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Richard Linklater’s surprise prize in Berlin for ‘Before Midnight’

The Berlin Film festival welcomed director Richard Linklater with a surprise award Monday night, presenting him the Berlinale Camera before a screening of his new film, “Before Midnight.” The prize is presented to film personalities or institutions to which the festival feels particularly indebted or wishes to express its thanks.

Stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy were on hand for the screening as well. Linklater, Hawke and Delpy wrote “Before Midnight” together, the third film in a trilogy that also includes 1995’s “Before Sunrise” and 2004’s “Before Sunset.” The new film finds the characters played by Hawke and Delpy at a personal crossroads nine years after the previous entry in the series.

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“Before Midnight” recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was met with an overwhelmingly positive critical response and was picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics. The film also sold out of foreign territories ahead of the international premiere in Berlin.

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This follows the low-key box office success last year of Linklater’s “Bernie,” starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, which pulled in nearly $10 million at the U.S. box office and garnered strong critical notices as well as nominations at the Golden Globes, Spirit Awards and elsewhere.

A festival press release declared Linklater “a longtime friend of the Berlinale,” noting that both “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset” were shown in Berlin.

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Also receiving a Berlinale Camera at this year’s festival were actress Isabella Rossellini, a former president of the festival’s jury, and German filmmaker and gay rights activist Rosa von Praunheim.

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Follow Mark Olsen on Twitter: @IndieFocus

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