This year, the Berlin Film festival focussed very much on young talents in their selection for the international competition. The international jury, under the presidency of Mike Leigh, had a long discussion before agreeing on the winners of the Golden and Silver Bears.
“Yeah we mainly programmed young people – of course its a risk because the people do not know them – but no risks, no fun,” said festival director Dieter Kosslick.
Surprisingly the Golden Bear award went to veteran Italian brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani for their documentary that follows a group of convicts in Rome’s maximum security prison Rebibbia as they rehearse a play.
The film looks at the staging and performance of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, with the inmates playing all the roles. The amateur actors are all serving sentences of between 14 years and life.
“So, when we were receiving this award we were thinking a lot about them and we said this Golden Bear has to be given to them,” said Paulo Taviani.
“The play ‘Julius Caesar’ is about ‘men of honour’ and they are themselves mostly so-called ‘men of honour’ as they are called in the Mafia or Camorra,’ explained brother Vittorio.
The Jury Grand Prix award went to Hungarian drama ‘Just the Wind’ directed by Bence Fliegauf, based on the real-life murders of Roma families.
Fliegauf also used an amateur Roma cast in the film. He said he hoped the story would move along the debate on the inclusion of gypsies into society.
“That was a very good meeting between these two different people, the Romas and the Hungarians, that was a good experience, brilliant,” said Fliegauf.
German film director Christian Petzold took home the best director prize for the German Cold War drama ‘Barbara’, which had been many festival goers’ tip for Best Film.
The story is based in former Eaat Germany. Barbara, a doctor, has submitted an application to emigrate to the West. She is punished by being posted away from the capital to a hospital in a small town. The film’s director pushed his lead actress Nina Hoss to do some of her best work. It is the fifth time they’ve worked together.
He was asked what is the secret of his collaboration with the German actress? “I do not know, maybe she works too exactly and is so concentrated on herself that she always surprises me and until ends we will keep on making movies together,” said Petzold.
The Best Actress award went to Rachel Mwanza, a 14-year-old from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In ‘Rebelle’ she plays a girl snatched from her village by armed rebels, forced to gun down her parents and made her commander’s mistress.
Mwanza was one of Kinshasa’s street children before director Kim Nguyen discovered her. She learned to read while working on the film
“She is 50 percent of the film. She worked very hard and she gives humanity to the film,” said Nguyen.
Danish actor Mikkel Boe Følsgaard won the silver bear for his role in the costume film ‘A Royal Affair’.
The film, from director Nikolaj Arcel was the only multiple winner at this year’s Berlinale, scooping the best actor Silver bear for Mikkel Boe Folsgaard as the slightly mad Danish king Christian VII and an award for best screen play.
“This is my first movie ever – I am still in theatre school, so it’s my first professional job ever,” said a visibly shocked Arcel.
So, Berlin did not produce the prizes most people thought but it did open the door on a number of new or lesser-known talents.