Magnolia, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, was awarded the Golden Bear at the 50th Berlin International Film Festival on Sunday night (Feb 20), a choice that proved popular among critics and audiences alike.

US films also picked up Silver Bears for best actor and director, but for the second year running German film-makers were also among the prize-winners called onto the stage at the Berlinale Palast on Potsdamer Platz. Following the success of Andreas Dresen's Night Shapes and Max Faerberboeck's Aimee & Jaguar in 1999, three German films - Volker Schloendorff's The Legends Of Rita, Wim Wenders' The Million Dollar Hotel and Rudolf Thome's Paradiso - Seven Days With Seven Women - were awarded top prizes at this year's event.

The two lead actresses of Schloendorff's political drama - Bibiana Beglau and Nadja Uhl - received a Silver Berlin Bear ex aequo for their acting performances. Wenders' film won the Berlin Jury Prize, and Paradiso was awarded an outstanding achievement Silver Bear.

"We were already really delighted at Road Movies/Das Werk about opening the Berlinale and our Oscar nomination, but now we're on top of the world," said Wenders about winning his first Berlin bear.

The International Jury, headed by Chinese actress Gong Li, upheld Berlin's tradition of showing special support to Asian cinema by awarding its Jury Grand Prix, Silver Bear, to Zhang Yimou for The Road Home and the Alfred Bauer Prize for a film debut to Boy's Choir by Akira Ogata.

As the 21-film strong International Competition was heavily weighted this jubilee year in favour of US studio films, it was not surprising that Anderson's Magnolia was joined by another couple of big US films among the winners. Denzel Washington added to his Golden Globe win and Oscar nomination with a best actor Silver Bear for his role in Norman Jewison's The Hurricane and the Silver Bear for best director went to Czech-born Milos Forman for Man On The Moon. Both men have won Berlin bears before - Washington for Malcolm X in 1993 and Forman for The People Vs. Larry Flynt in 1997.

Schloendorff's severely panned The Legends Of Rita is this year's winner of the $25,220 (DM50,000) Blue Angel award for best European film in the official competition section. International film critics association FIPRESCI gave awards to Claude Miller's Of Women And Magic in the competition section, Paragraph 175 by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman in Panorama and Sabu's Monday in the International Forum.

Full list of winners:

Golden Berlin Bear:
Magnolia - Paul Thomas Anderson (US)

Jury Grand Prix, Silver Berlin Bear:
The Road Home (Wo De Fu Qin Mu Qin) - Zhang Yimou (China)

Silver Berlin Bear for best director:
Milos Forman - The Man On The Moon (US)

Silver Berlin Bear for best actress (ex aequo):
Bibiana Beglau and Nadja Uhl - The Legends Of Rita (Die Stille Nach Dem Schuss)
(dir: Volker Schloendorff, Germany)

Silver Berlin Bear for best actor:
Denzel Washington - The Hurricane (dir: Norman Jewison, US)

Jury Prize, Silver Berlin Bear:
The Million Dollar Hotel - Wim Wenders (Germany)

The AGICOA award "The Blue Angel" for best European film:
The Legends Of Rita (Die Stille Nach Dem Schuss) - Volker Schloendorff (Germany)

The Alfred Bauer Prize for a film debut:
Boy's Choir (Dokuritsu Shonen Gasshoudan) - Akira Ogata (Japan)

Silver Berlin Bear for an outstanding achievement:
The cast of Paradiso - Seven Days With Seven Women - Rudolf Thome (Germany)


Golden Berlin Bear:
Tribute To Alfred Lepetit (Hommage A Alfred Lepetit) - Jean Rousselot

Jury Prize, Silver Berlin Bear:
Media - Pavel Koutsky


Competition section:
La Chambre Des Magiciennes - Claude Miller (France)

Paragraph 175 - Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (US)

Monday - Sabu (Japan)

Gong Li (actress) president
Lissy Bellaiche (former Danish Film Institute commissioner for int'l relations)
Peter W. Jansen (critic)
Jean Lefebvre (director of the Film Festival Bureau until 1999)
Marisa Paredes (actress)
Jean-Louis Piel (director)
Walter Salles (director)
Maria Schrader (actress)
Andrzej Wajda (director)

FIPRESCI jury members:
Derek Malcolm (UK) president
Mikhail Brashinski (Russia)
Borislav Andjelic (Yugoslavia)
Angelika Kettelhack (Germany)
Pia Lundberg, (Sweden)
Carlos Alberto Mattos (Brazil)
Gerald Peary (US)
Jerzy Plazewski (Poland)
Menakshi Shedde (India)