BERLIN -- The 63rd Berlin International Film Festival handed out its awards Saturday, with the top prize, the Golden Bear for best film, going to the Romanian family drama and corruption tale “Child’s Pose,” directed by Calin Peter Netzer.
An unflinching look at life among the country’s entitled and connected upper class, “Child’s Pose” follows a controlling mother’s attempt to bribe freedom for her ungrateful son after he kills a child from a poor family in a traffic accident.
Speaking from the winner’s podium, the film’s producer Ada Solomon addressed the dwindling support for film in her country, declaring, “Romanian politicians should pay much more attention to the kind of ambassador Romanian cinema is for our country around the world.” Solomon also gave thanks to art house distributors and cinemas for their fight against “commercial censorship.”
The jury was headed by Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai and included actor Tim Robbins, Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari, and Iranian artist/director Shirin Neshat.
The Jury Grand Prize Silver Bear went to Bosnian Danis Tanovic’s “An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker,” a docudrama re-creating institutional abuse and neglect of a Roma family in need, with the actual family members playing themselves. Receiving his award, Tanovic said “sometimes good things can come out of anger.” The film also garnered the best actor for Nazif Mujic. At the awards press conference, Mujic said he still collects scrap metal to support his family, even though his experiences have made him a well-known activist at home.
The Silver Bear for best script went to Iran’s Jafar Panahi and Kamboziya Partovi for "Pardé" (Closed Curtain). Panahi is prohibited by Iranian authorities from travelling or making movies due to his involvement in election protests in 2009. “Closed Curtain” is a poetic documentation of his artistic isolation and desolation. Speaking at the awards event, Partovi, who co-directed with Panahi and stars in the film, said “it’s never been possible to stop a thinker and a poet.”
David Gordon Green won a Silver Bear for best director for “Prince Avalanche,” which stars Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch as a pair of odd couple Texas road workers. On stage to receive his prize, Green reminisced about his first time at the Berlinale 13 years ago, which also marked the first festival screening of his first film, “George Washington.”
Quirky Canadian entry “Vic + Flo Saw a Bear,” from Dennis Côte, received the Alfred Bauer Prize, awarded to a feature film that “opens new perspectives.”
This year’s Silver Bear for outstanding artistic contribution was awarded to cinematographer Aziz Zhambakiyev for his work on Kazakh film “Harmony Lessons” from director Emir Baigazin. The film focuses on bullying in a school in rural Kazakhstan, and makes the most of its spare landscapes and the faces of its intense young performers.
Best actress prize went to Paulina García for her role in “Gloria,” as a 58-year-old divorcee looking for love. Rights for the Chilean film, from Sebastián Lelio, sold quickly this week in Berlin, with Roadside Attractions picking up distribution in the United States.
Wong also gave special mention to two films not receiving awards -- Pia Marais’ “Layla Fourie” and Gus Van Sant’s “Promised Land,” for the “integrity of their vision and their conviction that cinema can make a difference.”
Golden Bear for the best short film went to “La Fugue,” (The Runaway) from Jean-Bernard Marlin, while Stefan Kriekhaus won the Jury Prize Silver Bear for “Die Ruhe Bleibt” (Remains Quiet).
Australian Kim Mordaunt’s Laos-based film “The Rocket” received the prize for best first feature; it had already picked up a Crystal Bear from the youth-centric Generations section. Crystal Bears also went to Kasia Roslaniec for “Baby Blues,” and to short films “Rabbitland” from Ana Nedeljkovic and Nikola Majdak, and “The Amber Amulet” by Matthew Moore.