(18 February, Berlin) Director Patrice
Chereau’s sexually explicit drama Intimacy won the Golden Berlin Bear
for best film from the International Jury of the fifty-first International Filmfestspiele
Berlin this afternoon, besting Steven Soderbergh’s odds-on favorite Traffic
and such other Hollywood fare as Finding Forrester, Chocolat and Bamboozled
for the coveted prize.
Kerry Fox won the Best Actress Silver Berlin
Bear for her role in Intimacy (which features a good deal of it), and
Benicio Del Toro won the Best Actor Silver Bear for his performance in Traffic
-- which is almost entirely in Spanish. The second place Jury Grand Prix Silver
Bear went to Wang Xiaoshuai’s Chinese crowd-pleaser Beijing Bicycle (Shi
qui sui de dan che), while Lin Cheng-Sheng was awarded the Silver Berlin
Bear for his direction of another mainland production, Betelnut Beauty (Ai
ni ai wo). First-time Argentine director Lucrecia Martel won the Alfred
Bauer debut prize for her family exploration The Swamp (La Ciénaga).
But taking the entire awards landscape into the
picture, the big winner in Berlin this year was Lone Scherfig’s Dogme 95
relationship dramatic comedy Italian for Beginners (Italiensk for
begyndere). In addition to picking up the high-profile Silver Berlin Bear
Jury Prize, the film, which has been acquired for theatrical release in the
United States by Miramax, won the prize of the Churches of the Ecumenical Jury,
the FIPRESCI international film critics’ award and the readers’ prize of the
Berliner Morgenpost newspaper.
The awards cap an international competition
event that, while not seen as exceedingly strong, was nevertheless filled to the
brim with quality pictures. Thus the announcement of Intimacy’s win,
which might have provoked gasps from the assembled journalists in any other
year, was met with a positive, if muted, response. The awards were read out by
International Jury president and Hollywood insider Bill Mechanic, who chaired a
ten-person group that included Italian horror director Dario Argento, British
actress Jacqueline Bisset and Brazilian filmmaker Hector Babenco.
The awards will be presented at a gala ceremony tonight at the Berlinale Palast in the city’s new Potsdamer Platz neighborhood and will be followed by the 70mm presentation of a restored print of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and a party at Berlin’s City Hall that will be as much about celebrating outgoing fest director Moritz de Hadeln’s two decades of work at the helm of the event as a gala conclusion to a fine edition of the venerable festival.
Be sure to read our reports from these other film festivals as well: