Iranian film scoops top awards at Berlinale

Saturday, February 19, 2011

BERLIN - Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s “Jodaeiye Nader az Simin” (Nader And Simin, A Separation) scooped up a string of top prizes at the Berlin Film Festival Saturday, including the Berlinale’s prestigious Golden Bear for best motion picture.

The festival’s jury, headed up by Italian-born Isabella Rossellini also awarded the Silver Bear for best actress and best actor to the entire female and male cast of Farhadi’s film.

Farhadi’s movie is about a couple whose lives begin to spin out of control after a court rejects their divorce.

The awards for “Jodaeiye Nader az Simin” come two years after Farhadi won the Berlinale’s Silver Bear for Best Director for his film “About Elly”.

The presentation of the Berlinale awards were held against the backdrop of the six-year jail sentence handed down to renowned Iranian director Jafar Panahi.

The 50-year-old Panahi, who had been invited to be a member of the Berlinale jury, has also been banned from filmmaking for the next 20 years on charges of working against Iran’s ruling system.

An empty chair stood on the stage symbolizing Panahi’s absence from the award ceremonial.

The oppression of Iranian filmmakers has made Tehran the target of the world’s major film festivals and one key focus of this year’s Berlinale has been to screen Panahi’s movies.

Hungarian director Bela Tarr won the festival’s Jury Grand Prix Saturday for his movie solemn black-and-white “A Torinoi Lo” (The Turin Horse.)

Tarr’s two-and-half-hour story about an ageing farmer and his dutiful grown-up daughter, who live in a small derelict house in the middle of a cheerless countryside.

The movie was one of 16 films competing for top honours at the Berlinale, which is the first major European film festival of the year. The Jury Grand Prix is considered the festival’s second most prestigious award after the Golden Bear for best motion picture.

German director Ulrich Koehler won the award for best director for the movie (Schlafkrankheit) “Sleeping Sickness” about aid workers in Africa.

Argentinean director Paula Markovitch’s movie “El Premio” (The Prize) about a young girl growing up under the military rule in Argentina won two Silver Bears for best artistic achievement.

US director Joshua Marston and Albanian scriptwriter Andamion Murataj won the Silver Bear for scriptwriting for “The Forgiveness of Blood”.

The film tells the story of a teenager whose life is turned upside down after his family becomes embroiled in a blood feud in Alnania.

The Alfred Bauer prize for new perspectives in cinema was awarded to German director Andres Veiel’s “Wer Wenn Nicht Wir” (If Not Us, Who), which traced the origins of violent left-wing politics in Germany during the 1960’s.

Alaskan-born Andrew Okpeaha Maclean won the Berlinale prize for best first feature for “On the Ice” about a dark secret between a group of young friends living in a small Alaskan town.

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