George Clooney's The Monuments Men. Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival.

George Clooney's The Monuments Men will screen in the official program of the Berlin International Film Festival in February. The news comes only days after festival organizers announced that Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel will open the 64th annual event February 6

A German and American co-production, The Monuments Men centers on an unlikely World War II platoon whose mission was to go to Germany and recover artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. The film also stars Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett.

In announcing the film Friday, the festival noted about the film, which recalls the platoons efforts: “It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys – seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 gun – possibly hope to succeed?  But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.”
Two-time Academy Award winner George Clooney has been a frequent guest of the Berlinale as a producer, actor and director. The Monuments Men will be his second directorial appearance in the official program after Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (Berlinale 2003).

“Over five million cultural assets stolen by the Nazis were returned to their countries of origin in the years following World War II,” said Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick. “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.”

Co-written by George Clooney and Grant Heslov, who as screenwriters have twice been nominated for an Academy Award,  the film is based on the book by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter, and is produced by Grant Heslov and Clooney, who won last year’s Oscar for Best Picture (Argo).

Sony will release the film in the U.S. February 7. 20th Century Fox will open the film internationally.