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Clooney Calls for Return of Looted Nazi Art at Berlinale Premiere 

Berlin (MunichNOW News/dpa) - US actor–director George Clooney on Saturday called for stolen artworks to be returned to their rightful owners, adding that many works looted by the Nazis are still unaccounted for.

The ‘The Monuments Men’ press conference at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival / Berlinale 2014 on February 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. photo: dpa

“It’s a story that is going to keep coming up,” Clooney said at Berlin’s Berlinale Film Festival, which marks the European launch of his new film The Monuments Men. ”There is a lot of art that is still missing,” he said during a press conference.

The film - directed and co-written by Clooney - is based on the true story of a special US military unit charged with tracking down and protecting art during the Second World War.
In his comments, Clooney also backed Greece’s long-running campaign to retrieve antiquities looted by the Brits - notably the priceless Elgin Marbles currently on display in the British Museum.

This 1945 handout photo provided by the Smithsonian Institution shows the rescuing of art from Buxheim Monastery, Bavaria, Photographs, maps and records from the real corps of soldiers known as ¿Monuments Men¿ who were tasked with protecting European cultural sites and recovering looted art during World War II are going on display in Washington, many for the first time. (AP Photo/Edward E. Adams, Smithsonian Institution)

“I think (Greece) has a good case to make,” said Clooney. “It would be a very fair and nice thing to happen.”

Clooney is featured in The Monuments Men as Frank Stokes, a bespectacled art historian who leads a mission to shield Europe’s great works of art - not just from Hitler, but also from allied bombing and advancing Soviet forces.

Many of the works in question were earmarked for Hitler’s planned Fuehrer Museum and the private collections of top Nazis like Hermann Goering.

“For the first time the victors did not keep the spoils,” said Clooney.

Aside from Clooney in the main role, the film also stars Matt Damon as an art restorer, Cate Blanchett as a French art expert, John Goodman as a sculptor and Bill Murray as an architect.

Damon said Blanchett’s character was based on Rose Valland, a woman who secretly kept records of the artworks stolen and shipped out of France by the Nazis at great personal risk.

“It is the kind film that I grew up with,” Clooney said, referencing other major war movies such as The Guns of Navarone and The Great Escape.

The Monuments Men is being screened at the Berlinale out of competition. It is Clooney’s fifth feature film as director.

The film’s release in Europe is particularly timely. It comes only months after the sensational find of more than 1400 modern classics in a Munich apartment owned by the son of a prominent Nazi art dealer.

Editors Note: There is some German voiceover in the video

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