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A parade of stars, some with two legs and others with four, have trotted through Berlin this week as the city celebrates the 70th edition of its annual film festival. Cate Blanchett, Javier Bardem, Sigourney Weaver, Riz Ahmed, Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy and more have all braved the freezing rain on the red carpet. And yet the festival’s biggest celebrity guest, as befits a cinematic summit that prides itself on political engagement over escapist entertainment, was not Hollywood royalty but Washington aristocracy.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was promoting director Nanette Burstein’s four-hour TV documentary series, Hillary. Though unashamedly partial, Burstein’s screen biography is still admirably thorough, probing Clinton’s marital problems, electoral failures and prickly relations with Bernie Sanders.

However, the former Democratic presidential contender was diplomatic about Sanders in Berlin. “I have my own feelings about him and whether he can win or not,” Clinton said on Tuesday. “But if he is the nominee I will support him, because I think any Democrat is better than Donald Trump.”

She also used her visit to affirm the role of film and TV in countering Trumpian populism. “Culture could not be more important at this moment,” she said. “The other side plays on fear, anxiety, insecurity, resentment and grievance. It’s really critically important to fight back against this very strong tide.”

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Hillary Clinton - "Hillary" Photo Call - 70th Berlinale International Film FestivalHillary Clinton - "Hillary" Photo Call - 70th Berlinale International Film FestivalHillary Clinton, Nanette Burstein - "Hillary" Photo Call - 70th Berlinale International Film Festival

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FESTIVAL GUESTS. Former US State secretary Hlllary Clinton and British actress Helen Mirren are expected to be among the guest in the Berlin Film Festival. File photos by  Michael Loccisano/ Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images/AFP

FESTIVAL GUESTS. Former US State secretary Hlllary Clinton and British actress Helen Mirren are expected to be among the guest in the Berlin Film Festival. File photos by Michael Loccisano/ Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images/AFP

BERLIN, Germany – Europe’s first major film festival of 2020 opens on Thursday, February 20 with the likes of Signourney Weaver, Helen Mirren and even Hillary Clinton descending on the German capital for the 70th edition of the Berlinale.

Under new direction for the first time in nearly two decades, this year’s festival will tackle the issue of diversity in film while also confronting its own murky history.

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