EURO BEAT: The Neverending 2012 Berlinale Awards

Brian Clark, European Editor


Here's an interesting fact about the Berlin Film Festival: Almost everybody gets an award. Seriously, besides the well-known jury awards, there are approximately 1,867 other awards given about by various organizations, from the international film organizations of the Protestant and Catholic Churches to Amnesty international.

Not surprisingly, reading through this list of awards made me feel stupid for missing a number of very promising films. But hey, I've assembled almost all of the awards in this week's Euro Beat column so that you won't miss the films when they make it to your town! Or at least marvel at how many awards are given out at Berlinale.

But first, before we begin that endurance test, let's take a quick look at the box office. Now that Intouchables has descended below the top five in France, a new comedy that I refuse to see has taken its place! Would I Lie to You? Part 3 has dominated for the past few weeks, with a cumulative gross of nearly $25 million so far. This is the third sequel to the 1997 comedy about a non-Jew trying to pass for Jewish in a Jewish working community. So yes, France is really into wacky comedies about different ethnic and religious groups getting to know each other.

In UK and Ireland, The Woman in Black took the top spot with The Muppets close behind. Germany is still loving The Intouchables, refusing to let either The Vow or Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 3-D steal its throne. And finally, Italy is still in its own world, with Com'è bello far l'amore taking the number one slot. From what I can tell, this one is a wacky sex-comedy with flat lighting.

Finally, the 2011 receipts for Europe are in, and... they are down .4%. Sad. Still, the world keeps turning.

Berlin Film Festival 2012: International Jury Awards

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The Golden Bear from the international jury went to Caesar Must Die at the festival. While this one seemed like a crowd-pleaser overall, word of mouth from critics was mixed and as a result, I skipped it. Clearly, I regret this now. That said, the award is a bit like Martin Scorsese's Oscar for The Departed in the sense that it is partly honoring directors Paolo & Vittorio Taviani for their seminal work in the 70's and 80's like Padre Padrone and The Night of the Shooting Stars.

Here is the complete list of Golden and Silver bears awarded by the international jury, which consisted of Mike Leigh (President), Anton Corbijn, Asghar Farhadi, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jake Gyllenhaal, François Ozon, Boualem Sansal and Barbara Sukowa.

GOLDEN BEAR FOR THE BEST FILM - Caesar Must Die by Paolo & Vittorio Taviani

JURY GRAND PRIX-SILVER BEAR - Just The Wind by Bence Fliegauf

SILVER BEAR FOR BEST DIRECTOR - Christian Petzold for Barbara

SILVER BEAR FOR BEST ACTRESS - Rachel Mwanza in War Witch by Kim Nguyen

SILVER BEAR FOR BEST ACTOR - Mikkel Boe Følsgaard in A Royal Affair by Nikolaj Arcel

SILVER BEAR FOR AN OUTSTANDING ARTISTIC CONTRIBUTION - Lutz Reitemeier for the photography in White Deer Plain by Wang Quan'an

SILVER BEAR FOR THE BEST SCRIPT - Nikolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg for A Royal Affair by Nikolaj Arcel

ALFRED BAUER PRIZE (Awarded in memory of the Festival founder, for a work of particular innovation) - Tabu by Miguel Gomes

SPECIAL PRIZE-SILVER BEAR - Sister by Ursula Meier

BEST FIRST FEATURE AWARD - Kauwboy Kauwboy by Boudewijn Koole

Berlin Film Festival 2012: The Other Awards

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In addition to these main prizes, there is an enormous number of other awards given out by independent juries that consist of everything from religious organizations to readers of Berlin newspapers. Since a simple list of these numerous awards will mean almost nothing to people who didn't attend the festival, I've broken them all down below, complete with information on the films and the juries for each award.

THE CRYSTAL BEAR - Arcadia
Much more breakable than the Golden Bear and the Silver Bear awards, The Crystal Bear honors the best fiction film in the Berlinale section for youth films. This year it went to drama about a family road trip across California. Like National Lampoon's Vacation, the family makes the trek in a battered station wagon. Unlike that film, the mother is missing, and therefore, it's much sadder.

THE CRYSTAL BEAR PART 2 - Night of Silence
Okay, there's actually a second Crystal Bear for the 14plus section of the youth competition. This one went to a Turkish drama about an arranged marriage. The entire film takes place on the night after the wedding when the couple finally meets. This one sounds like it's just screaming for an Americanized comedy remake.

DIALOGUE EN PERSPECTIVE - This Ain't California
This award, which goes to films which promote international dialogue, went to a movie that combines found Super-8 footage with re-enacted scenes to create a portrait of the underground skater culture in communist East Germany. Probably my biggest failing at the festival was not realizing that such a movie existed.

AMNESTY FILM PRIZE - Just the Wind
This drama about paranoia and intolerance is based on a series of actual Romane killings in Hungary apparently totally delivers on its intriguing premise. The prize, as you may have guessed, is backed by Amnesty International.

PEACE FILM PRIZE - Just the Wind
The Peace Film Award Initiative in association with the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War completely agree with Amnesty International.

NETPAC AWARD - Modest Reception
The Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema opted for this Forum title about two mysterious people making their way through a war-torn region of Iran, giving out money to the needy. But their purpose may or may not be totally altruistic...

CINEMA FAIRBINDET PRIZE - Call Me Kuchu
This documentary about the life and death of a gay rights activist in Uganda caught my eye early on, and if awards are any indication, it lives up to the promise of the synopsis. At the very least, according to the criteria for this prize, it "addresses a global issue and encourages discussion in an extraordinary way."

CALIGARI FILM PRIZE - Beyond the Hill
This three person jury awarded a prize sponsored by German Federal Association of Communal Film Work and Filmdienst to one of my favorite films of the festival.

ECUMENICAL JURY PRIZE - Caesar Must Die (Competition), The Wall (Panorama), The Delay (Forum)
Looks like the international film organizations of the Protestant and Catholic Churches and Mike Leigh saw eye to eye this year in terms of the competition. Who'd have thought?

FIPRESCI JURY PRIZE - Tabu (Competition), Atomic Age (Panorama), Hemel (Forum)
This one's an award from a big group of critics, so of course Tabu took it. Every critic (including me) has been doing backflips for this one. Hemel surprised me for Forum, but since I can't say I saw a movie I liked more in this category, I suppose I'll back that (More thoughts on that film in my upcoming festival wrap). The fact that they also honored Atomic Age, a second movie about late nights and over-indulgence, is a bit interesting. I should have partied with the critics jury.

C.I.A.C.E. PRIZES - Death For Sale (Panorama), Our Homeland (Forum)
The International Confederation of Art House Cinemas favored a Moroccan riff on film noir that I wish I'd seen and a Korean family drama that I did not hear anything about.

EUROPEAN CINEMA LABEL PRIZE - My Brother the Devil
This association of arthouse cinemas bestowed its prize on Sally El Hosaini's coming-of-age story about two British Arabs in a disreputable area of Hackney. According to the program notes, it's like other comings-of-age, except with more racial intolerance, sex and violence.

TEDDY AWARD - Keep the Lights On
The award for queer cinema went to Ira Sachs' New York City love story, which chronicles the ups and downs of two men over many years and arrived in Berlin on the heels of positive buzz from Sundance.

AUDIENCE AWARD - PANORAMA NARRATIVE - The Parade
The Panorama audience and the Teddy awards disagreed about the best queer film at the festival! Not that the winner for this category was required to include queer content, but still, the people gave the prize to this comedy about a friendship between a gay veterinarian and a homophobic gangster as the best narrative in the Panorama program.

AUDIENCE AWARD - PANORAMA DOCUMENTARY - Marina Abramovic The Artist is Present
A film in which Abramovic justifies charging money to let people stare at her during her MOMA retrospecive. And hey, the Panorama audience got it!

ELSE - THE SIEGESSÄULE READER'S CHOICE AWARD - The Parade
Readers of this Berlin gay/lesbian magazine sided with the Panorama audience instead of the Teddy Award. I'm guessing both films are probably good.

BERLINER MORGENPOST READERS' JURY - Barbara
I heard many good things about Christian Petzold's German film about a female doctor being transferred to a hospital in a small town, and a jury of twelve readers of this Berlin daily paper were apparently quite fond of it too.

TAGESSPIEGEL READERS' JURY - The Delay
Nine readers of another Berlin newspaper favored Rodrigo Plá's drama about a seemingly inconsequential visit to the social security office that takes on complex, tragic dimensions.

And, that's a wrap. Sort of. If you're interested in short film prizes, Berlinale talent campus prizes and the numerous "special mentions" in each category, head over to the incredibly comprehensive Berlinale awards page. By my count, the film with the most prizes (again, not counting mentions) was Just the Wind, which walked away with three. Here's hoping it finds its way overseas in the near future.

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