Truth meets fiction as Oscar winner George Clooney will show his Nazi-era art thriller "The Monuments Men" at the Berlin film festival in February. The film comes amid the controversy following last year's discovery of over 1,400 works of art stolen by the Nazis
The artworks were found in the Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a powerful Nazi-era art dealer. It is assumed that most of the art was stolen from Jewish collectors.
The collection boasts masterpieces by Picasso, Matisse and Renoir, along with previously unknown works by modernist painters Marc Chagall and Otto Dix. Some estimates place the collection's value at $1.3 billion.
The new film, which Clooney directed and co-wrote, is based on the true story of a US platoon which included 7 museum directors and curators. The unit was given the mission to rescue priceless works of art from the Nazis during World War II and return them to their rightful owners.
Aside from Clooney, the film stars Matt Damon, Bill Muray, Cate Blanchett and John Goodman. AFP reports that the movie was filmed in Germany and is set for a February 7 US release.
Berlin film festival director Dieter Kosslick spoke about the film, saying "as the recent discovery in Munich demonstrates, the art theft of that time is as current as ever. 'The Monuments Men' finally gives this little-known subject a worldwide audience."
Meanwhile in the real-world drama, Ronald S. Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress, on Monday called on the German government to publish an inventory of the recovered art. He stated that "valuable time has been wasted. Neither the possible claimants nor possible witnesses in the return process are getting younger."
AFP notes that German prosecutors have refused to publish an inventory till now, claiming they need more time and that their probe requires "discretion."
Furthermore it has been reported that some of the found art will likely be returned to Gurlitt in whose apartment the pieces were found, since the works are deemed to have been "public property" at the time the Nazi regime seized them.