Semih Kaplanoglu’s Honey (Bal), the third part of his reverse-order trilogy after Egg and Milk, became only the second Turkish film to win the Golden Bear in Berlin.
The Turkish-German co-production, described by Screen Daily critic Lee Marshall as “very beautiful and very studied, with a sometimes oppressive sense of directorial control”, also earned the Ecumenical Jury’s prize for best film in the competition. Susuz Yaz (Dry Summer) was the first Turkish film to win the Berlinale’s highest accolade in 1964.
The spirit of Roman Polanski loomed large over the Berlinale as the director was awarded the Silver Bear for best direction for The Ghost Writer. Polanski — currently under house arrest in Switzerland where he faces possible extradition to the US — first won the Golden Bear more than 40 years ago in 1966 for Cul-de-Sac.
Producer Robert Benmussa thanked the German crew profusely, as well as the “wonderful partner” Studio Babelsberg and the German film funds “without whom the film would not have been made.”
Benmussa’s fellow producer Alain Sarde commented wryly that he was sure Polanski would be “very happy” at winning the prize and added that the film-maker had said to him that even if he could, he wouldn’t have attended the Berlinale because the last time he went to a festival to collect a prize he ended up in prison.
Eastern Europe was the night’s big winner with two prizes apiece going to competition films from Russia and Romania. Alexey Popogrebsky’s How I Ended The Summer picked up the Silver Bear for best actor shared ex aequo between Grigory Dobrygin and Sergei Puskepalis, while the film’s cinematographer Pavel Kostomarov received a Silver Bear for an outstanding artistic contribution.
Accepting the award on Kostomarov’s behalf from the hands of jury president Werner Herzog, Popogrebsky said that he hoped this award would give more recognition in Russia and elsewhere to the DoP, who is also a director for documentaries.
Meanwhile, Romania’s Florian Serban was named the winner of the Alfred Bauer Prize recognising new perspectives in the art of film and the Grand Prix of the Jury for his film If I Want To Whistle, I Whistle.
Asian cinema bookended the 60th Berlinale with opening and closing films and it wasn’t forgotten by the International Jury. Wang Quan’an, winner of the Golden Bear in 2007 for Tuya’s Wedding, was presented with the Best Screenplay Silver Bear for Apart Together, which opened the festival, while Japan’s Shinoba Terajima received the Best Actress Silver Bear for her performance in Koji Wakamatsu’s Caterpillar.
At the awards ceremony in front of 1,600 guests in the Berlinale Palast Herzog thanked festival director Dieter Kosslick for “his wonderful selection” and said that the jury’s deliberations had led to “a very swift decision” and “a clear result.”
Speaking exclusively to Screen Daily about the 2010 edition, Kosslick expressed his delight that “our audiences have given us the biggest birthday present: with roughly 300,000 sold audience tickets we have reached a new visitors’ record.”
Turning to the highlights of this festival, Kosslick said that, “naturally, the eagerly awaited world premiere of the public screening of Metropolis at the Brandenburg Gate was a big bang at the beginning of the festival with pictures going around the world of The Curtain and 2,000 people watching the restored film.”
In addition, he had been impressed by the keynote from Sir Norman Foster on the future of cinema, as well as the screenings of films like Bal and If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle.
“Generally speaking, it was the kind of birthday celebration we had wanted from the outset, although there was a bit of trouble with some films which didn’t go down as well as people had expected,” Kosslick said. “As far as Shahada is concerned, I’m quite convinced that this young director is a real talent and will have a great career ahead of him. And I had never expected that Jew Suess would be criticised so heavily, with broadsides being fired at the film.”
On the organisational front, Kosslick, who will celebrate his 10th Berlinale next year, confirmed that Linda Söffker will be the successor of Alfred Holighaus as section head for Perspektive Deutsches Kino. “We will still be reflecting on how we could possibly restructure and concentrate the activities for German cinema at the festival into one department,” he said. “In fact, we will be looking at the whole festival to see if there is any scope for fine tuning.”
“Many people are also wanting us to keep the ‘Berlinale Goes Kiez’ programme. It was such a resounding success with more people wanting to attend than tickets were available,” Kosslick said. “But it’s quite a challenge logistically for us to organise with 20 red carpet events. However, I had my ‘Avatar from Hamburg’, Matthias Elwardt, to handle all of that!”
The complete list of prize winners at this year’s Berlinale can be found at www.berlinale.de