The 62nd Berlinale Festival closed after a ten day run during which a wide range of vibrant international films was screened. The coveted Golden and Silver Bears have now been awarded by the International Jury, which was made up of Mike Leigh (President) Anton Corbijn, Asghar Farhadi, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jake Gyllenhaal, Boualem Sansal, Barbara Sukowa and Francois Ozon.
The Golden Bear for Best Film went to Caesar Must Die, and the Grand Jury Prize Silver Bear to Just the Wind. Christian Petzold won the Silver Bear for Best Director for his film Barbara, while Lutz Reitemeier won the Outstanding Artistic Achievement Silver Bear for photography on White Deer Plain. Best Actress went to fourteen year old Rachel Mwanza in War Witch, and Best Actor to Mikkel Boe Folsgaard in A Royal Affair. A Royal Affair scriptwriters Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg also won a bear, and a Special Award Silver Bear was given to Ursula Meier for her film Sister. The Alfred Bauer Prize, which is awarded in memory of the Berlinale Founder for a work of particular innovation, went to Tabu.
Italian film Caesar Must Die (watch the trailer above), winner of the Golden Bear, was directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. The black and white film follows a group of maximum security prisoners as they attempt to put on a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Although technically a documentary, the film is undoubtedly heavily staged, suggesting a blurring of fact and fiction. Caesar Must Die grabbing the Golden Bear has surprised quite a few critics, as many expected it to be beaten to the punch by German Film Barbara, which follows a woman planning her escape from Communist East Germany.
Of course, not every film screened at Berlinale was met with universal acclaim. Iron Sky posits a world in which, following defeat in World War Two, the Nazis set up a secret base on the Moon in order to regroup and attempt world domination again in 2018. While this ‘Nazis in space’ idea certainly sounds like a lot of politically incorrect fun, it failed to impress critics in Berlin, and was referred to as a ‘damp squib’ by the Guardian’s Andrew Pulver. Japanese film Friends After 3.11, a clumsy attempt at a documentary concerning last year’s catastrophic earthquake, was also badly received; it caused almost half the festival audience to walk out during the screening due to poor construction and bad handling of the tragedy.
Finally, as if winning Best Actress at both the Golden Globes and the BAFTA’s (and looking set to win it at the Oscars too) wasn’t enough, Iron Lady actress Meryl Streep has been given an honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement at Berlinale 2012. She was presented with the prize by International Jury Member Jake Gyllenhaal. In her speech Streep went into detail concerning her opinion on Margaret Thatcher, claiming that she would have been ‘dragged kicking and screaming to the altar of feminism, but she was a feminist whether she likes it or not’. In less than a week’s time, Streep will be up against Glen Close, Michelle Williams, Viola Davis and Rooney Mara for the Best Actress Oscar at the 2012 Academy Awards.