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12 years in the making, US director Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' competes at Berlin festival

From right, director Richard Linklater, actors Lorelei Linklater, Ellar Coltrane and Patricia Arquette pose for photographers on the red carpet for the film Boyhood during the International Film Festival Berlinale in Berlin, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Axel Schmidt)

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From right, director Richard Linklater, actors Lorelei Linklater, Ellar Coltrane and Patricia Arquette pose for photographers on the red carpet for the film Boyhood during the International Film Festival Berlinale in Berlin, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Axel Schmidt)

BERLIN - Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" already looks sure of one honour among the competitors at this year's Berlin International Film Festival: for the movie that took longest to make. The American director, who presented the film Thursday, started making it in 2002. It follows a boy (Ellar Coltrane) from first grade to college, watching him make his way to adulthood as his divorced parents — played by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke — muddle their way through parenthood and a series of relationships.

STEP BY STEP

Linklater worked on the project about once a year while also making movies including "Before Sunset," ''Before Midnight" and "Fast Food Nation." The film evolved as the director and cast went along.

"I had the architecture of the whole piece in mind, but then every year we got this gestation period of a year to think about each segment," Linklater told reporters. The movie swept over a long period, but the director said his aim was largely to focus on "little moments" rather than major dramas. "I had faith that it would all add up ... that it would have a cumulative effect," he said.

LOOK BACK, CAREFULLY

The cast didn't get to see any of the footage until recently. Coltrane said he was grateful for that because it kept it from being self-conscious — and it was still "a lot to deal with watching it two months ago."

The director's daughter, Lorelei Linklater, played the elder sister to Coltrane's character through the film's making. She said that watching the completed movie was "honestly quite painful at some times, watching yourselves go through all these awkward stages. It was hard — I was crying for a little while."

And what was it like for the adults? "Ethan and I just got old," Arquette said.

FATHER AND DAUGHTER

There was one hiccup for the director: Lorelei Linklater recalled that "one year, I asked him if my character could die." The filmmaker said he talked his daughter out of the idea, telling her that "it's not that kind of movie."

LOACH HONORED

The festival's jury will award Berlin's top Golden Bear prize on Saturday, choosing from a field of 20 movies.

Before that, British director Ken Loach was getting an honorary Golden Bear Thursday in recognition of his prolific work, dating back to the 1960s. He was being honoured with a gala screening of "Raining Stones," a 1993 film about a poverty-stricken suburban family that Loach said is "still relevant" and, despite the subject, "quite a cheerful film."

NOT GIVING UP LIGHTLY

Asked if the upcoming "Jimmy's Hall" will be his last feature film, the 77-year-old Loach said he doesn't know.

"We'll have to see. I think it does need a physical stamina that you tend to lose when you get into the wrong end of the 70s," he said. All the same, "it's not a privilege that you give up lightly."

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