It is no secret for anyone in the cinematographic world that the Berlin festival is obsessed with political and/or social urgency. Both during the process of selection of works for the competition, and during the awarding process the acute topics easily win over the form, artistic qualities, and originality of the authors’ exploration.
But the Berlin Festival jury, headed by producer James Schamus, awarded two genre films, in which the entertainment element leaves any actuality far behind: Chinese stylization of a Hollywood noire film with elements of thriller Black Coal, Thin Ice (Golden Bear for a feature film, director: Diao Yinan; and a Silver Bear for the best actor to Liao Fan) and American ironic detective Grand Budapest Hotel (Jury Grand Prix, director: Wes Anderson).
If only Black Coal was awarded, we could speak about a gesture of support of the Chinese film-making. However, the Grand Prix for Anderson does not leave any doubt: this allotment of the main prizes is the program statement of the jury in favor of namely genre entertainment cinema. Taking into account the fact that the thing is about one of the most politicized festivals in the world, it looks largely as a challenge. We can only guess the reasons, but apparently the collision was created while the competition was formed – that is a topic of a different conversation.
Boyhood, a new work of the independent American director Richard Linklater was an indisputable favorite of the critics. The film is a result of a unique experiment: in 2002 the director found a seven-year-old boy and shot live-action (not documentary) scenes with him, as well as Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, who played the roles of the parents of the leading hero for nearly 12 years. As a result the film won the Silver Bear for Best Director; like they say, we must be thankful even for small favors. The favorite of the German audience, a bulky anticlerical drama Stations of the Cross (Dietrich Brueggemann), in spite of all fears, won only a Best Screenplay Prize, not more.
Another sensation: the Alfred Bauer Prize for opening new perspectives on cinematic art and FIPRESCI Prize went to 92-year-old patriarch Alain Resnais for TV play Life of Riley. Here one can predict that the new film by creator of legendary Hiroshima, my love by its stylistics is anachronistic on the verge of scandal, so much that it might really look as a new word.
Finally, Haru Kuroki scoops Best Actress Award (The Little House, director: Yoji Yamada, Japan), and Best Camera Work Award went to Jian Zeng from Blind Massage.
Read a more detailed analysis of Berlinale results in the upcoming issues of The Day.