Berlin film Fest comes to happy end

08:10, February 22, 2010      

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Brilliant sunshine and record attendance brought the 60th anniversary of the Berlin Film Festival to a happy end on Sunday, with Turkish and Eastern European films being big winners this year.

"Bears" already got their owners on Saturday night. "Bal" ( Honey) from Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu nabbed the Golden Bear for Best Film, the first Golden Bear for a Turkish film since 1964.

"In the name of Turkish Films, this (Golden Bear) is a very meaningful prize. It's a help to making better films," said Kaplanoglu at a press conference held immediately after the award ceremony.

The film tells the story of a young boy in Anatolia, who runs off to search for his missing father who has gone to relocate his beehives in a faraway forest.

Although popular among audiences, this year's Golden Bear award came as a surprise to some.

The 20 films screened in competition were particularly noteworthy for the Berlinale's 60th anniversary year, featuring masterful directors like Roman Polanski, Wang Quan'an, Zhang Yimou and Yoji Yamada along with relative newcomers from Romania and Russia.

Roman Polanski's absence did not seem to tarnish his chances, as he received the Silver Bear for Best Director for his political thriller "The Ghostwriter."

Since the director, a resident Pole born in France, is still under house arrest at his Swiss chalet for alleged rape of a teenage girl three decades ago, long-time collaborator and producer Alain Sarde spoke to the press on Saturday evening.

"It's a very difficult situation for him and due to difficult circumstances he cannot be here. This is, however, an award to honor his work, his film and his career," Sarde said.

Chinese director Wang Quan'an, who won the Golden Bear in 2007 for "Tuya's Marriage," was awarded along with his co-author Na Jin, the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay for "Tuan Yuan" (Apart Together).

"This year's 60th Berlinale is the coldest weather I've experienced, but the cinema was the warmest for me," Wang said while receiving the award.

For China, this was an encouraging year for films, as Zhang Yimou's film "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle shop" also played in the competition, though it did not receive any awards. All together ten Chinese language films were screened at the Berlinale.

Zhang Yimou's movie "Red Sorghum," which won the first Golden Bear for a Chinese filmmaker in 1988, also replayed for audiences in the Retrospective section.

Since 1951, the Berlinale has always been quite the political yearbook for East/West relations. In this anniversary year, Eastern European films took home the majority of the ten awards at the gala ceremony on Saturday night.

The runner-up to the Golden Bear went to Floran Serban, who won the Grand Prix Jury Silver Bear and the Alfred Bauer Prize for new perspectives in the art of film, for his Romanian drama, "If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle."

Alexi Popogrebsky's Russian film, "How I Ended the Summer," also took home two prizes. Both the Cinematographer, Pavel Kostomarov and lead actors, Grigori Dobrygin and Sergei Puskepalis were awarded Silver Bears for their performances.

Avid festival goer and Ukrainian Arts Scholar Olena Novikova told Xinhua that she thought the Jubilee year had produced many more global films of high quality, particularly from Eastern Europe.

"Alexi Popogrbsky's film was a real breath of fresh air for Russian Cinema. The characters, the story, the drama was really excellent," said Novikova.

The seven jurors, headed by renowned German director Werner Herzog, made their final choices after screening the 20 international films that entered this year's competition.

During the award ceremony, Herzog announced that the jury's decisions were "quick, easy and clear." "It was wonderful," he said, "and we enjoyed every film."

At the close of the European Film Market (EFM), business appears to have remained solid, though without the grandiose comeback that was hoped for.

This year 419 movie companies enrolled in comparison to 408 from last year. However, the total number of films at the market came down to 690 from 700 in 2009.

As the first market event of the year, the EFM acts as an international film thermometer, gauging what kinds of financial and thematic film trends are beginning to build.

Dieter Kosslick, the Festival Director, was quite pleased with the finances of festival ticket sales this year.

In an interview with "Screen Daily Magazine," he said: "Our audiences have given us the biggest birthday present: with roughly 300,000 sold audience tickets, we have reached a new visitors' record."

Source: Xinhua
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