Among all the plagiarism and nihilism discussions, I completely forgot that the jury of the Berlin Film Festival has awarded the golden and silver bears for 2011.
This year was a clean sweep for the Iranian film Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (Nader And Simin, A Separation), which took the golden bear as well as two silver bears in both acting categories and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury (a related award given by the Catholic and Protestant church).
This is one of the things I like about the Berlin film festival, that the juries tend to award complete outsider films. This year’s winner is actually one of the more mainstream jury decisions, previous winners included a drama about sexual violence from Peru, the first Peruvian film ever to win an award at a major festival, and a retelling of Carmen set in a South African township. The juries at Cannes, Venice, Sundance, etc… usually tend to go with arthouse mainstream and the big names on the festival circuit, but in Berlin completely offbeat films can and do win. Besides, seeing two young women in traditional Islamic garb on stage at a film festival accepting an acting award is just lovely.
The two German entries, Schlafkrankheit (Sleep Sickness) about a German developmental worker in Cameroon and Wer wenn nicht wir (Who if not us) about the RAF (that is Red Army Fraction, not Royal Air Force) as well as a German short film by Konrad Mühe, son of actor Ulrich Mühe, also took home silver bears, which is a suprisingly good showing for German cinema.
No award at all for American cinema, which is unusual, because an American film usually gets a nod in one of the lesser categories to keep the Hollywood stars and directors motivated, so they’ll come back next year. But True Grit, which might have had a chance and was the opening film, did not take part in the competition and was not eligible and the American banking crisis drama which was eligible apparently did not sufficiently impress.