Berlin Film Fest: ‘The Yes Men…’ wins audience award

February 14th, 2009 - 11:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Berlin, Feb 14 (DPA) American anti-globalisation pranksters The Yes Men won the audience prize for one of the Berlin Film Festival’s main sections Saturday as part of the buildup to the presentation of the Berlinale’s top honours at a Hollywood-style gala.

The Yes Men’s latest film “The Yes Men Fix the World” once again seeks to expose and poke fun at the corporate world.

The movie screened in the Berlinales’s Panorama section showcases independent and art-house cinema.

“The Yes Men Fix the World”, which was directed by Mike Bonanno, Andy Bichlbaum and Kurt Engfehr followed The Yes Men’s 2003 movie in which they impersonated employees of the World Trade Organisation.

Movie-goers attending the Berlin Film Festival were asked to cast their votes for the films screened in the Panorama section, which screened a total of 48 movies films. About 21,000 votes were cast.

Also Saturday as part of the Berlinale, Israeli-born director Oren Moverman won the peace prize for “The Messenger” about two traumatised US soldiers back from Iraq and on a new assignment to tell families their loved ones have been killed in combat.

Valued at 5,000 euros ($6,432), the first peace prize was awarded in 1986.

At the same time, German director Hans-Christian won the Amnesty International Film prize for his thriller “Sturm” (Storm), which is based around the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Starring Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger” along with “Sturm” are favourites in the battle for the Berlinale’s coveted Golden Bear, which is to be awarded Saturday.

A total of 18 films competed for the Berlinale’s top honours with the field wide open in the race for the festival’s main prizes.

Also among the leading contenders are Paris-born Rachid Bouchareb’s “London River”, a compelling story of a Muslim father and a Christian mother searching for their children in the aftermath of London’s July 7 terrorist attacks. It stars Brenda Blethyn and Sotigui Kouyate.

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s “Darbareye Elly About Elly” has also emerged as a possible favourite for the Golden Bear. Farhadi’s film explores the fine line between truth and lies in middle-class Iranian society after a young woman suddenly vanishes.

But film festival juries are notoriously difficult to predict. The 59th Berlinale’s seven-member international jury, headed up by Academy Award-winning British actress Tilda Swinton, also have to hand out festival prizes for best director, as well as awards for best actor and actress.

Indeed, top Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi could also be recognised by the jury for her role as the lover of famed 20th century Peking opera star Mei Lan-fang, in Beijing director Chen Kaige’s lavishly filmed “Forever Enthralled”.

Other possible contenders include German director Maren Ade’s “Alle Anderen” (Everyone Else) about a young couple that find their relationship is put to the test and British-born Peter Strickland’s “Katalin Varga”.

Set in Transylvania, Strickland’s first feature film tells the story of a woman who embarks on a journey of revenge as she travels through the Carpathian Mountains in search of her son’s real father.

Once again, a major focus of the Berlinale was stories about women.

Another film that could stand a chance of going home with a prize is British-born Richard Loncraine’s 1950’s comedy “My One and Only”, which was a last minute entry in the Berlinale’s main competition.

It stars Hollywood actress Renee Zellweger as a mother who takes her two teenage sons on a road trip across America in search of a husband.

But despite the glamour as stars lined up for the festival’s red carpet overhanging this year’s Berlinale was the deepening sense of gloom in the global movie business as it braces itself for what is expected to be a tough 12 months of cost-cutting, layoffs and projects being put on hold.

However, many of those attending the European Film Market (EFM) - the business side of the Berlinale - appear somewhat relieved that the numbers of deals arranged over the last 10 days meant that the EFM was not quite as bad as many had expected.

The festival continues Sunday with further screenings open to the public.

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