Posted by Valentina Valentini on February 24, 2012 at 8:00 am
Apt for Germany and its people, Berlinale’s top prizes last week went to highly dramatic, hard-to-handle, even violent films. That’s not to say that Germans are a cruel and hard people, not at all. It’s more to applaud their taste in true dramatic cinema. I envy a festival that takes on grit with gusto not many besides the Germans could muster.
And with the Germans, the entire European Film Market and most of the world’s media spent 10 days in Berlin, watching hundreds of films all competing for the coveted Golden Bear for Best Film, which went to the docu-drama Ceasar Must Die (Cesare deve morire).
This black-and-white feature documentary follows Italian prison-mates at a high-security wing of Rome’s Rebibbia jail – thugs, murderers, Mafioso and such – as they rehearse and put on Shakespeare’s “Julius Ceasar.” Directed by veteran brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, the film clearly resonated with audiences who watched the convicts resonate with Shakespeare’s universal themes of betrayal, power, corruption, and vengeance.
The high point of the evening surely was when the Silver Bear for Best Actress went to 14-year-old Rachel Mwanza, for her performance in War Witch (Rebelle). She is a first-time actress plucked from anonymity from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In line still with the gritty and sad, the Jury Grand Prize Silver Bear went to Bence Fliegauf’s Just the Wind (Csak a szél) – a dark story of a Romany family in Hungry battling racist attacks after the death squads killed many of their people in 2008-09.
The rest of the mostly depressing, but artistically deserving winners are below:
Silver Bear for Best Director: Christian Petzold, Barbara (Germany)
Silver Bear for Best Actor: Mikkel Boe Folsgaard, A Royal Affair (En kongelig affære)
Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Achievement: Lutz Reitemeier, Director of Photography, White Deer Plain (Bai lu yuan)
Silver Bear for Best Script: Nicolai Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg, A Royal Affair (En kongelig affære)
Alfred Bauer Prize – in memory of the festival founder, for a feature film that broadens the horizons of the art of filmmaking: Tabu by Miguel Gomes
International Jury Special Mention: Sister (L´enfant d’en haut) by Ursula Meier
Best First Feature Award: Kauwboy by Boudewijn Koole
Golden Bear for Best Short Film: Rafa by João Salaviza
Silver Bear for Best Short Film: The Great Rabbit (Gurehto Rabitto) by Atsushi Wada
Crystal Bear for Best Feature Film awarded by the Children’s Jury: ARCADIA by Olivia Silver
Crystal Bear for Best Short Film awarded by the Children’s Jury: Julian by Matthew Moore