Berlin, Feb 19: Getting an award at Berlin Film Festival Saturday evening was a complete surprise for most of the winners.
Danish thespian Mikkel Boe Folsgaard who got a Silver Bear for Best Actor didn’t see it coming, especially since the role was his debut on the silver screen.
“In the first place I was just happy to get the part and I was happy to be in the movie and it was such a great experience. It’s my first movie so, yeah, it was a big experience. So, I’m very happy,” he said.
For Rachel Mwanza, who won Best Actress for her role as a Congolese child soldier in “War Witch” life couldn’t be more surprising. She credits the director of the film with helping her get an education.
“I’m very happy. Because of him (Kim Nguyen) I’m going now to school, and so my life has changed so much and I’m very grateful,” Mwanza confessed.
The documentary “Cesar Must Die” by directors Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani received the Golden Bear award out of 18 contenders at what is the first of the year’s major European film festivals.
The Taviani brothers, both in their early 80s, expressed their joy of being acknowledged for this particular film, but also his anxiety at returning to see the inmates of Rome’s Rebibbia prison who starred in the movie.
“I am trying to find a word to describe this moment,” said Paolo. “To say I’m happy is not enough to express how happy I am. I am enchanted. I’m really curious to see what it will be like when we get back to Rome and see the prisoners again. “
The two filmmakers spent six months following the rehearsals for the play. The documentary does not dwell on the crimes the inmates have committed, but shows the actors immerse themselves in the play’s web of friendship and betrayal, power, dishonesty and violence. But after the premiere, the cell doors slam shut behind Cesar, Brutus and the others, leaving them to return to their lives behind bars.
The festival’s runner-up Silver Bear went to Hungarian director Bence Fliegauf for “Just the Wind,” which focuses on the lives of a family of Roma as their community faces a series of deadly attacks.
The film features an amateur Roma, or Gypsies, cast and depicts the long-suffering, grimly silent mother Mari (Katalin Toldi), her elderly invalid father and two children who struggle to make ends meet and dream of emigrating one day to Canada - against the quietly menacing backdrop of a series of killings in their out-of-the-way neighborhood.
The film takes its cue from true-life murders that happened in 2008-9, though Fliegauf has stressed that it does not document those killings.
The Hungarian director said the reality of winning the award still hadn’t sunk in, but what stuck with him was being handed the award by the Jury President Mike Leigh.
“I am very honoured because Mike Leigh is one of my idols. He’s my hero, so I’m very happy. I met with him on the stage and he said congratulations for me and that’s a big thing.”
Silver Bear for Best Director went to German Christian Petzold for his work on drama “Barbara,” a film whose leading lady won a Silver Bear for one of Petzold’s earlier films. He joked that he felt lucky to get a prize all by himself this time around.
“The last movie “Yella”, Nina Hoss, the actress also from ‘Barbara,’ has won the prize and it was also lucky, but to have the prize by my own is a little bit luckier, but I can’t tell it to her now.”
Other winners included Lutz Reitmeier with an Silver Bear for an Outstanding Artistic Achievement for photography on “White Deer Plain,” Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg won a Silver Bear for Best Script for “En Kongelig Affaere.” Miguel Gomes got an Alfred Bauer prize for his work on “Tabu,” while Ursula Meier got a Special Mention for “Sister.”
The festival’s eight-member jury included actor Jake Gyllenhaal and Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian director of last year’s Golden Bear-winning film, “A Separation.”
Farhadi’s film won best foreign language film honors at the Golden Globes last month and is competing for the same award at this year’s Oscars.
Outside the main competition, about 400 films were screened, and the Berlinale festival’s highlights included Meryl Streep being honored for her lifetime achievement and Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, the Bosnian war movie “In the Land of Blood and Honey.”