And so the final day of the festival arrives, bringing the verdict of the jury. The most important moment of any festival as the winning of an award can make a significant difference to someone’s career. The Berlinale, in particular, has long been noted for its ability to discover new talent and to reward films that extend the boundaries of cinema.
We can say that this year the Jury, led by Tilda Swinton, an actress who has built her career on integrity, has been very true to its spirit. But here we go with the surprises!
The busiest man of the night was Adrian Biniez who had to jump on the stage three times to collect awards for his film, Gigante, the story of a giant supermarket security guard, who falls in love with a pretty, but clumsy pretty cleaner. Biniez won Best First Feature, shared the Grand Prix Silver Bear with Maren Ade [Alle Anderen], and the Alfred-Bauer Prize – with Andrej Wajda [Tatarak].
The Messenger by Oren Moveman won the award for Best Script; a movie about two US soldiers assigned the task of informing the relatives of the death of their loved ones.
Best director went to the Iranian director Ashar Minichmayr for Darbareye Elly (All about Elly), a film that reconstructs the life of a young woman who drowned while on holiday with friends and family.
Many critics tipped the Romanian-set UK drama, Katalina Varga, for the top prize, but Peter Strickland’s film, about a woman’s journey of revenge on the man who raped her, won only for its sound design (Best Artistic Contribution).
One Prize that wasn’t hard to predict went to French actor Sotigui Kouyate for his performance in London River [Rachid Bouchareb]. An astonishing performance from an actor best-known for his stage work with Peter Brook, [The Mahabaratha]. And his acceptance speech was no less remarkable: not for him the usual list of gushing thank-yous but rather a salute to the Jury praising those able to appreciate and reward films from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds: “because something becomes more interesting when a variety is represented like a beautiful tapestry with different colours, or like a wonderful grass with a variety of flowers.” Laughter is essential to life – if you laugh you’ll live longer – and so Kouyate continued with several anecdotes, one about a man who met a genius. The genius said he could grant a wish and so the man asked the genius to make him twice as intelligent. Once he had become twice as intelligent, the genius asked if he had another wish, and the men replied “yes, can you make me ten times more intelligent.” Once the man had become ten times more intelligent, the man asked for another wish? Could the genius make him a hundred times more intelligent? The genius asked if he were sure about that? Because he will be very surprised! “Yes,” said the man. “I really want it.” The genuis granted his wish with the words: “you will now become now a woman.” And the whole the audience laughed at his great wisdom!
The prize for Best Actress went to the young Austrian actress Birgit Minichmayr for Alle Anderen (Everyone Else) by Maren Ade, the story of a young couple who find a new way to love each other – a movie that we loved and were very pleased to see garlanded.
We definitely jumped from our chair when the main prize, The Golden Bear, went to The Milk of Sorrow, by Peruvian director Claudia Llosa. It was pandemonium: the whole cast went onto the stage, surprised and excited, everyone starting to cry as they talked about Perù; the lead actress gave a speech in Spanish and concluded by singing a very moving melody in her native language. The Milk of Sorrow, La Tetta Asustada, reveals to us a culture that we know little, and brings to the word stage a young female director true to herself and her country. We hope this prize will encourage and stimulate Peruvian cinema.We hope too that these special films from the ‘New World’ will not ‘remain’ in Berlin, but will travel and be seen across Europe, at least.
And with these victories came joy and laughter – winning is invigorating!We wish good luck to all the films that were able to give such great emotion, such special cinema.