‘Elite Squad’ wins Golden Bear at Berlin film fest

February 17th, 2008 - 2:44 pm ICT by admin  

Berlin, Feb 17 (DPA) A police political thriller by Brazilian director Jose Padilha won the Berlin Film Festival’s coveted Golden Bear for best film. The film, “Elite Squad” (Tropa Squad) has been a box-office hit in Brazil and was chosen by an international jury headed by renowned Greek-born director Costa-Gavras.

“It is a prize for Brazilian film,” said Padilha whose movie tells the story of a brutal police clean-up operation ahead of a 1997 visit to Brazil by Pope John Paul II.

Wearing a red Berlinale scarf, Padilha said Saturday, winning the award would encourage him to continue to make critical films with Elite Squad’s success in Berlin coming against the backdrop of a renewed international recognition of Latin American cinema.

With no script and his actors largely improvising, Padilha hoped to give his movie a documentary film, he said.

The Berlinale’s jury grand prize went to US Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris’ “Standard Operating Procedure”, a detailed examination into the shocking events surrounding Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

A total of 21 films were competing for the festival’s top honours this year with “There Will Be Blood” from US director Paul Anderson winning two awards - one for best director and for one for Jonny Greenwood for his musical score for the film.

“There Will Be Blood”, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a ruthless oilman has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, which are to be presented in Los Angeles next week.

But holding the two silver bears, Anderson said “That’s enough for me.” Anderson won a Golden Bear for Magnolia eight years ago saying that Berlin brings him luck.

Now in its 58th year, the Berlinale is one of the world’s top three film festivals. Saturday’s Berlinale awards were handed out in a Hollywood-style gala ceremony.

It has also been a successful festival for Iranian cinema with one of the nation’s leading actors Reza Najie winning the Berlin Film Festival’s top award for best actor.

He played a stressed-out father trying to keep his family financially afloat in Iranian director Majid Majidi’s light poignant comedy “The Song of Sparrows” (Avaze Gonjeshk-Ha).

It was also announced Saturday that Iranian-born director Hana Makhmalbaf’s “Buddha Collapsed out of Shame” (Buda Az Sharm Foru Rikht) had won the 23rd film peace prize. The prize is valued at 5,000 euros ($7,337).

Makhmalbaf’s movie screened in the Berlinale’s Generation section, which is aimed at younger audiences, and focuses on a young Afghan girl who lives in the mountains near the place where the 1,500-year-old Buddha statues were blown up by the Taliban in 2001.

British actress Sally Hawkins goes home with the festival’s award for best actress for her role in British director Mike Leigh’s “Happy Go Lucky” about a positive-thinking Londoner called Poppy.

Speaking after accepting the festival’s Silver Bear, Najie said it was his destiny to come to Berlin. “Thank you Berlin, thank you cinema,” he told the awards ceremony in the German capital.

Hawkins said she had been completely overwhelmed after receiving the prize and had burst into tears after leaving the stage.

The Silver Bear for best script went to Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai’s “In Love We Trust” (Zuo You) about the tensions caused by a sick child.

Earlier Saturday, the festival announced that “Lemon Tree” from Israeli director Eran Riklis won the audience prize for one of the Berlinale’s main sections.

Riklis’ film was not included in the Berlinale’s main competition but was screened in the festival’s Panorama section, which showcases independent and art-house cinema.

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