Harvey Milk is now giving 'em hope in Berlin.

American gay rights activists found solace and inspiration in the release of director Gus Van Sant's Milk, which was released weeks after a triumvirate of gay marriage defeats in Arizona, Florida and California on November 4. The film is based on the life of gay activist Harvey Milk, who in 1978 was fighting a draconian Anita Bryant-backed measure – the Briggs Initiative – that sought to expel gay and lesbian teachers from California schools. Milk, the first openly gay politician in the U.S., fought back against the measure and won, but his victory was short lived. Twenty days after voters had rejected the Briggs Initiative, Milk was assassinated on the steps of San Francisco City Hall by a disgruntled former city commissioner, Mike White.

The movie's timing seemed like destiny, its message powerful. And it became an early contender for an Oscar best picture win.

But the film fell behind when Slumdog Millionaire took off. Slumdog and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button each earned more Oscar nominations than Milk's eight.

In Berlin, however, screenings at the 59th Annual Berlin International Film Festival will likely help Milk recover momentum. Also expected to help is the film's wide release from 300 theaters to over 882 on Friday, January 30.

The festival – also known as the Berlinale – is the third largest in the world.

Three Milk-themed films will be screened at the Berlinale this year. Director Robert Epstein's original 1984 Milk biopic, The Times Of Harvey Milk, and a new short film, 575 Castro Street, will be screened along with Van Sant's Oscar-nominated Milk.

In the short film, the set of the Castro Camera Store used in Milk plays as visual backdrop to an audio recording made by Milk just a few weeks after his election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Audiences will hear Milk's 1977 words: “Because last week I got that phone call from Altoona, Pennsylvania. And my election gave somebody else, one more person, hope. And after all that's what it's all about. It's not about personal gain, it's not about ego, it's not about power. It's about giving those young people out there in Altoona, Pennsylvanias hope. You gotta give 'em hope.”

The Berlinale opens on February 5.