[See previous post: "Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear Winner."] Berlin 2013's Best Director was David Gordon Green for Prince Avalanche, starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch as two men who develop an unlikely friendship while repainting traffic lines on an isolated country highway. Green also wrote the Prince Avalanche screenplay, from an original story by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson.
Best Actress winner Paulina Garcia is the star of Sebastián Lelio's Chilean comedy-drama Gloria, the tale of a 58-year-old divorcee who rediscovers the possibility of romance in the form of a naval officer in his mid-60s. Roadside Attractions will distribute the well-received Gloria in the United States.
Berlin 2013: Jafar Panahi strikes again
The Berlin 2013 Best Screenplay Award went to Jafar Panahi and Kamboziya Partovi for Closed Curtain / Pardé. While accepting the trophy, Partovi remarked that “it's never been possible to stop a thinker and a poet.” Indeed, although Iranian political prisoner Panahi has been banned from making movies, he keeps on making them, which then go on to festival screenings and international acclaim. Late last year, This Is Not a Film was one of the semi-finalists for the Best Documentary Academy Award.
Now, do not expect Iran's rabid theocratic government to submit Closed Curtain for the 2013 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The film follows a writer (Partovi) living with a small dog — condemned to death for being "unclean" — in an isolated beach house. Writer and dog have their existence disrupted following the arrival of a young couple (who might be brother and sister) on the run from the authorities for having taken part in a beach party. Closed Curtain was reportedly shot at Panahi's own beach house.
Other Berlin 2013 winners
Among the other Berlin Film Festival 2013 winners was Dennis Côte's semi-experimental Canadian drama Vic + Flo Saw a Bear / Vic et Flo ont vu un ours, which received the Alfred Bauer Prize given to a feature that “opens new perspectives.” Featured players include Romane Bohringer as the ex-con Flo, Pierrette Robitaille as Flo's former cell mate and lover Vic, and C.R.A.Z.Y. star Marc-André Grondin.
The 2013 Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution went to cinematographer Aziz Zhambakiyev for his work on Emir Baigazin's Kazakh drama Harmony Lessons, about school bullying in rural Kazakhstan.
The Laos-based drama The Rocket, written and directed by Australian filmmaker Kim Mordaunt, was given the Best First Feature Award. On the IMDb, The Rocket is described thus: "A boy who is believed to bring bad luck to everyone around him leads his family and two new friends through Laos to find a new home."
The Golden Bear for Best Short Film went to Jean-Bernard Marlin's The Runaway / La Fugue, set in an impoverished Marseille suburb, while the Jury Prize Silver Bear was given to Stefan Kriekhaus' Remains Quiet / Die Ruhe Bleibt.
And finally, two films earned special mentions, Pia Marais' Layla Fourie and Gus Van Sant's Promised Land, for the “integrity of their vision and their conviction that cinema can make a difference.” The German / South African thriller Layla Fourie features Rayna Campbell in the title role as a woman hiding an ugly secret. Starring Matt Damon, John Krasinski, and Frances McDormand, Promised Land follows two corporate salespeople attempting to buy local drilling rights from the residents of a rural community. Van Sant's film received little critical attention in the U.S. upon its release and went mostly unnoticed by audiences.
The 2013 Berlin Film Festival jury was headed by Wong Kar Wai (In the Mood for Love, The Grandmaster). The other jury members were Susanne Bier (Love Is All You Need, In a Better World), Tim Robbins (Dead Man Walking, Green Lantern), Shirin Neshat (Women Without Men, Rapture), Athina Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg, Before Midnight), Andreas Dresen (Summer in Berlin, Stopped on Track), and Ellen Kuras (The Betrayal – Nerakhoon, Be Kind Rewind).
Aziz Zhambakiyev, Paulina Garcia, David Gordon Green photos: © Berlin Film Festival.