62nd Berlin Film Festival: Overview

The 62nd Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale) drew to a close last weekend, with a few unexpected winners receiving the most prestigious awards…

Berlinale 2012 Berlin Film Festival Golden bear prizewinners awards

This year’s Golden Bear, the highest prize awarded for the best film at the festival, went to Italian docudrama, Caesar Must Die (Cesare Deve Morire). The film follows a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar put on in a maximum security prison on Rome, with inmates taking on the various roles of the play.

Although the film, from directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, was well received, it was certainly not the frontrunner for this highly-coveted award. However, the fact that it was this award which first helped gather awareness of Asghar Farhadi’s critically acclaimed Iranian drama, A Separation, just last year, undoubtedly bodes well for this film.

Cold War drama, Barbara, had been hotly tipped to nab the top prize, but director Christian Petzold did not leave empty handed after being given the Silver Bear award for Best Director. Similarly, Portuguese drama and festival favourite, Tabu, from director Miguel Gome, was recognised as a work of ‘particular innovation’ with the Alfred Bauer Prize.

Other Silver Bear awards went to Mikkel Boe Følsgaard for Best Actor in Danish period piece, A Royal Affair, where he took on the challenging role of King Christian VII. The film was the only multiple award winner, with writers Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg being rewarded with a Silver Bear for Best Screenplay. Meanwhile, the Best Actress Bear was presented to Rachel Mwanza, who made her film début at the festival in Kim Nguyen’s War Witch, which tells the story of one girl’s experience of civil war in Africa.

Cinematographer Lutz Reitemeier was given the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic achievement in recognition of his work on White Deer Plain, a three-hour Chinese epic from director Wang Quan’an. A special one-off Silver Bear was also awarded to Swiss filmmaker Ursula Meier for her film, Sister, which follows the story of a poor boy who steals ski equipment from a nearby resort.

Berlin’s jury grand prize, which is often considered to be the runner-up to the Best Film award, went to Hungarian drama Just The Wind. Directed by Bence Fliegauf, Just The Wind examines the issue of human rights by taking a look at a real life murder-plot against a Roma family.

The jury itself was made up of a number of familiar faces, with jury president Mike Leigh joined by Anton Corbijn, Asghar Farhadi, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jake Gyllenhaal, François Ozon, Boualem Sansal and Barbara Sukowa.

Despite a number of promising films being recognised for their achievements, there was something of an underlying feeling that this year’s line-up was not quite so spectacular as that which was witnessed by festival-goers last year. Whilst a number of big stars such as Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Robert Pattinson and Christian Bale may have been in attendance, it is thought that many of this year’s best films are being held back to receive their première at the Cannes Film Festival later on this year.

See the full list of this year’s Berlinale prize winners, here: http://www.berlinale.de

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