Berlin Film Festival: Round-Up

Damon Wise brings us the lowdown

Berlin Film Festival: Round-Up

by Willow Green |
Published on

There were the usual upsets at this year's Berlin Film Festival as the final awards were announced. Despite complaints that the festival competition was the flattest in years, there were still enough high points to leave many bemused at the final winners.

Headed by Paul Schrader, and including Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal, the jury seemed to hone in on some of the weakest films playing, notably Ariel Rotter's The Other, an Argentinian riff on Michalangelo Antonioni's The Passenger that finds a businessman stealing the identity of a fellow air traveller after realising the man has died.

Also controversial was a prize for Park Chan-Wook's I'm A Cyborg..., an untypical offering from Korea's Revenge Trilogy director described by one festival as "hard to get into - but so easy to walk out of".

Though the acting prizes were well deserved, many thought that Christian Petzold's Yella deserved more than simply a gong for its leading lady. An impressionistic mystery about a woman escaping from a possessive lover, it split audiences with its framing device but united them with an often funny and enigmatic middle section.

Also tipped for prizes were two films by old masters: Jacques Rivette's French period piece Don't Touch The Axe, starring Guillaume Depardieu, and Jiri Menzel's amusing Czech comedy I Served The King Of England. The latter screened late in the festival, after many international visitors had left, on the same day as a strong UK contender, David Mackenzie's Hallam Foe, the story of a disturbed teenage voyeur (Jamie Bell). After the disappointing Asylum, this was deemed a promising return by Mackenzie, and the presence of Bell – whose press conference was unexpectedly hilarious – on the last day of the festival caused many to speculate that Hallam Foe would be a bigger winner than it was. In the end, Mackenzie simply took a Silver Bear for the film's excellent Britpop soundtrack.

As usual, like any film festival, the Berlinale declared this year's one the best ever, declaring record ticket sales. However, the selection left a lot to be desired, and although the festival made its usual bid to attract stars, they were thin on the ground and mostly arrived with vanity projects (especially the rancid Sharon Stone vehicle When A Man Falls In the Forest).

J.Lo was surprisingly well received for Gregory Nava's Bordertown, a sombre drama about unsolved murders in South America, but the Berlinale hasn't quite sorted out its priorities. Even the more experimental and less commercial Panorama and Forum sections offered few surprises. Quite simply, there are better films out there – as this year's Sundance festival proved – but either the Festival is not seeing them or their makers are not submitting them. Maybe next year the balance will settle down.

Here’s the full list:

Golden Bear For Best Film

Tuya's Wedding by Wang Quan'an

Silver Bear - Grand Jury

The Other by Ariel Rotter

Silver Bear - Best Director

Joseph Cedar for Beaufort

Silver Bear - Best Actress

Nina Hoss for Yella, by Christian Petzold

Silver Bear - Best Actor

Julio Chavez for The Other, by Ariel Rotter

**Silver Bear - Outstanding Artistic Contribution **

The ensemble cast of The Good Shepherd, by Robert De Niro

Silver Bear - Best Film Music

David Mackenzie, for Hallam Foe

Alfred Bauer Prize

Park Chan-Wook for I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK

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