Berlin Film Festival: South African ‘dance movie’ ‘Carmen in Khayelitsha’ wins Golden Bear
Headed by cineplex-oriented filmmaker Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow), the seven-member Berlin Film Festival jury awarded the 2005 Golden Bear to the Xhosa-language South African “dance movie” Carmen in Khayelitsha / U-Carmen eKhayelitsha.
Directed by newcomer Mark Dornford-May and starring Pauline Malefane, Carmen in Khayelitsha is a modernized version of Georges Bizet’s 1875 opera (itself based on Prosper Mérimée’s 1845 novella), transferred to the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha. Malefane and fellow Carmen in Khayelitsha actress Andiswa Kedama did the translation into Xhosa.
This South African “dance movie” features not only music from Bizet’s original opera but also what’s described as “African music.” The film’s score was conducted and directed by British conductor Charles Hazlewood, whose credits as a composer include the 2004 TV miniseries The Genius of Mozart.
Previous big-screen Carmen portrayers include opera diva Geraldine Farrar (ironically, in a 1915 silent movie), Theda Bara (also in 1915), Pola Negri (1918), Raquel Meller (1926), Dolores del Rio (The Loves of Carmen, 1927), Marguerite Namara (1932), Niní Marshall (1943), Viviane Romance (1944), Rita Hayworth (The Loves of Carmen, 1948), Ana Esmeralda (1953), Dorothy Dandridge (Best Actress Oscar nominee for Carmen Jones, 1954), Maruschka Detmers (First Name: Carmen, 1983), Laura del Sol (also in 1983), Julia Migenes (1984), Djeïnaba Diop Gaï (in the Senegalese-made musical Karmen Gei, 2001), and Paz Vega (2003).
Working-class Chinese family gets Silver Bear + Nazi era drama wins two top awards
The runner-up to Mark Dornford-May’s South African dance movie was cinematographer-turned-director Gu Changwei’s Silver Bear winner Peacock, a depiction of the daily life of a working-class family in a small Chinese town. As a cinematographer, Gu’s credits include Zhang Yimou’s 1988 Golden Bear winner Red Sorghum and Ju Dou, and Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine.
The Berlin Film Festival’s Best Director Silver Bear winner was Marc Rothemund for the German period political drama Sophie Scholl: The Final Days / Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage, about the titular German resistance member who was eventually caught by the Nazis and beheaded at age 21 along with her 24-year-old brother, Hans Scholl.
As the young anti-Nazi fighter, Julia Jentsch was the Best Actress Silver Bear recipient, while Lou Taylor Pucci was named the best male performer for his portrayal of Tilda Swinton and Vincent D’Onofrio’s insecure, thumb-sucking teenage son in Mike Mills’ U.S.-made Thumbsucker.
More Berlin winners: Palestinian terrorists & sexually explicit tale
Also in the Official Competition, screenwriter-director Tsai Ming-liang’s Taiwanese effort The Wayward Cloud won the Outstanding Artistic Achievement Silver Bear for Tsai’s screenplay, in addition to the International Federation of Film Critics’ Prize (for Official Competition entries) and the Alfred Bauer Prize.
The drought-stricken-Taipei-set tale of a fledgling porn star who accidentally runs into the woman he once loved (characters previously seen in Tsai’s What Time Is It There?), The Wayward Cloud features graphic sexual scenes, plenty of watermelon juice, and outlandish musical numbers, including one featuring a dancing penis. Lee Kang-sheng and Chen Shiang-chyi star.
Lastly, Hany Abu-Assad’s controversial French-German-Dutch-Palestinian co-production Paradise Now, the story of two Palestinian suicide bombers, had been considered a front runner for the Golden Bear but ended up with the less internationally renowned Amnesty International Film Prize and the Blue Angel Award for Best European film.
Honorary Golden Bear
In other Berlin Film Festival news, on Feb. 12, Korean filmmaker Im Kwon-taek, 69, described by Der Spiegel as the “godfather of Korean film,” became the first Asian filmmaker to be handed an Honorary Golden Bear.
Im shared the honor with Peruvian-born Spanish actor-director-writer Fernando Fernán Gómez, 83, winner of two Best Actor Silver Bears at the Berlinale (The Anchorite, 1977; Stico, 1985) and of six Spanish Academy Goya Awards – one of them as Best Actor for his tour de force in the title role of José Luis Garci’s Oscar-nominated 1998 drama The Grandfather.
Previous recipients of the Honorary Golden Bear (most of whom Hollywood or part-time-Hollywood talent): Alec Guinness, Catherine Deneuve, Kim Novak, Gregory Peck, Anouk Aimée, Fernando Solanas, Jack Lemmon, Alain Delon, Sophia Loren, Jeanne Moreau, Robert Altman, Claudia Cardinale, Dustin Hoffman, Shirley MacLaine, Billy Wilder, Elia Kazan, James Stewart, Kirk Douglas, and Oliver Stone.
The 2005 Berlin Film Festival ran Feb. 10–20. Below is a partial list of winners.
Berlin Film Festival winners
Golden Bear: Carmen in Khayelitsha.
Jury Grand Prix - Silver Bear: Peacock.
Actress: Julia Jentsch, Sophie Scholl - The Final Days.
Actor: Lou Taylor Pucci, Thumbsucker.
Director: Marc Rothemund, Sophie Scholl - The Final Days.
Outstanding Artistic Contribution: Tsai Ming-liang for the screenplay of The Wayward Cloud.
Film Music: Alexandre Desplat, The Beat That My Heart Skipped.
Honorary Golden Bear: Im Kwon-Taek & Fernando Fernán Gómez.
Silver Bear for Short Film (tie): The Intervention, dir.: Jay Duplass & Jam Session, dir.: Izabela Plucinska.
Golden Bear contenders
Besides Mark Dornford-May and Pauline Malefane’s South African “dance movie,” Marc Rothemund’s Nazi era drama, Lou Taylor Pucci’s star-making vehicle, Hany Abu-Assad’s Palestinian bombers story, and Tsai Ming-liang’s sexually explicit Taipei tale, the movies in competition for the 2005 Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear were the following:
- Jacob Thuesen’s Accused / Anklaget (Denmark).
Cast: Troels Lyby. Sofie Gråbøl. Paw Henriksen.
- David Mackenzie’s Asylum (U.S. / Ireland).
Cast: Natasha Richardson. Hugh Bonneville. Sean Harris. Ian McKellen. Joss Akland. Maria Aitken.
- Jacques Audiard’s The Beat That My Heart Skipped / De battre, mon coeur s’est arrêté (France).
Cast: Roman Duris. Niels Arestrup. Mélanie Laurent. Emmanuelle Devos. Linh Dan Pham.
- André Téchiné’s Changing Times / Les temps qui changent (France).
Cast: Catherine Deneuve. Gérard Depardieu. Gilbert Melki.
- Lajos Koltai’s Fateless / Sorstalanság (Hungary / Germany / U.K.).
Cast: Marcell Nagy. Béla Dóra.
- Christian Petzold’s Ghosts / Gespenster (Germany / France).
Cast: Julia Hummer. Sabine Timoteo. Marianne Basler. Benno Fürmann.
- Yoji Yamada’s The Hidden Blade (Japan).
Cast: Masatoshi Nagase. Takako Matsu.
- Paul Weitz’s In Good Company (U.S.).
Cast: Dennis Quaid. Topher Grace. Scarlett Johansson.
- Robert Guédiguian’s The Last Mitterrand / Le promeneur du champ de Mars (France).
Cast: Michel Bouquet. Jalil Lespert.
- Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (U.S.).
Cast: Bill Murray. Owen Wilson. Anjelica Huston. Cate Blanchett. Jeff Goldblum.
- Régis Wargnier’s Man to Man (France / South Africa / U.K.).
Cast: Joseph Fiennes. Kristin Scott Thomas.
- Hannes Stoehr’s One Day in Europe (Germany / Spain).
Cast: Florian Lukas. Erdal Yildiz. Luis Tosar.
- Stefano Mordini’s Smalltown, Italy / Provincia meccanica (Italy).
Cast: Stefano Accorsi. Valentina Cervi.
- Alain Corneau’s Some Kind of Blue / Les mots bleus (France).
Cast: Sylvie Testud. Sergi López. Camille Gauthier.
- Raoul Peck’s Sometimes in April (U.S. / U.K.).
Cast: Idris Elba. Debra Winger. Noah Emmerich.
- Aleksandr Sokurov’s The Sun / Solntse (Russia / Italy / France).
Cast: Issei Ogata. Robert Dawson. Kaori Momoi.
Sundance winners include love-triangle drama ‘Forty Shades of Blue’ & anti-war documentary ‘Why We Fight’
From Berlin to Sundance: Ira Sachs’ Forty Shades of Blue topped the Dramatic U.S. category at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, held in Park City, Utah, between Jan. 20–30.
Reportedly inspired by Satyajit Ray’s 1964 Indian drama Charulata, Forty Shades of Blue centers on a love triangle consisting of a Memphis-based music producer (Rip Torn), his Russian companion (Dina Korzun), and the producer’s estranged son (Darren E. Burrows). Sachs co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Rohatyn.
Eugene Jarecki’s U.S.-made documentary Why We Fight, about the many decades of U.S.-made warfare as seen through a sociopolitical-economic-ideological prism, was the domestic Documentary Grand Jury Prize winner. Two years ago, Jarecki’s brother, Andrew Jarecki, won that same award for Capturing the Friedmans.
In case the title of Eugene Jarecki’s anti-war documentary sounds familiar, that’s because Why We Fight was the name of a series of propaganda films made at the behest of the U.S. government during World War II. Mostly directed by Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak and narrated by future Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Walter Huston (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948), titles include Prelude to War, The Nazis Strike, The Battle of Britain, The Battle of Russia, and War Comes to America.
Angolan ‘The Hero’ + Brooklyner ‘The Squid and the Whale’
More Sundance 2005 winners: The World Dramatic Grand Jury Prize went to Zézé Gamboa’s The Hero / O Herói, the story of an Angolan man who tries to rebuild his life in the aftermath of that country’s 30-year civil war.
Dutch filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich’s Shape of the Moon / Stand van de maan, a portrait of a slum-dwelling family’s daily life in Indonesia, was given the World Documentary Jury Prize.
U.S. filmmaker Noah Baumbach won both the Best Director (Narrative) and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting awards for The Squid and the Whale, a semi-autobiographical dramatic comedy about two brothers (Jesse Eisenberg and [Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates’ son] Owen Kline) trying to cope with the divorce of their Brooklyn-based parents (Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney).
The Best Documentary Director was Jeff Feuerzeig for The Devil and Daniel Johnston, about the bipolar-disorder-suffering American musician.
Rwanda genocide + Amy Adams & Lou Taylor Pucci
The Sundance 2005 World Documentary Audience Award went to Peter Raymont’s Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire, about the former Canadian Lieutenant-General and head of the United Nations peacekeeping force at the time of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
The recipient of the World Cinema Audience Award was, like Forty Shades of Blue, a love triangle tale: Susanne Bier’s Danish drama Brothers / Brødre, which had earned Ulrich Thomsen and Connie Nielsen Best Actor and Best Actress honors at last year’s San Sebastian Film Festival.
Also like Forty Shades of Blue, Craig Brewer’s Hustle & Flow is a Memphis-set drama, in this case about a pimp and drug dealer (Terrence Howard) who dreams of becoming a renowned rapper. Hustle & Flow nabbed the Audience Award for Best U.S. Dramatic Film while also earning Amelia Vincent the Best Cinematography (Dramatic) prize, and Geoffrey Richman and Conor O’Neill a Special Prize for Editing.
The Audience Award for Best U.S. Documentary was given to Henry-Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro’s Murderball, about a group of wheelchair-rugby players.
And finally, Amy Adams and Berlin winner Lou Taylor Pucci received Special Jury Prizes for Acting for their performances in, respectively, Phil Morrison’s Junebug and Mike Mills’ Thumbsucker, while Special Jury Prizes for Originality of Vision went to Miranda July’s romantic comedy-drama Me and You and Everyone We Know and Rian Johnson’s neo-noir mystery Brick.
Below is a partial list of this year’s Sundance Film Festival winners.
Sundance Film Festival winners
Dramatic Grand Jury Prize (U.S.): Forty Shades of Blue.
Documentary Grand Jury Prize (U.S.): Why We Fight.
World Dramatic Grand Jury Prize: The Hero.
World Documentary Grand Jury Prize: Shape of the Moon.
Director: Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale.
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale.
Documentary Director: Jeff Feuerzeig, The Devil and Daniel Johnston.
World Cinema Audience Award: Brothers / Brødre.
World Documentary Audience Award: Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire.
Audience Award (U.S. Dramatic): Hustle & Flow.
Audience Award (U.S. Documentary): Murderball.
Special Jury Prize (World Dramatic) (tie): Live-In Maid (Argentina / Spain), dir.: Jorge Gaggero & The Forest for the Trees (Germany), dir.: Maren Ade.
Special Jury Prizes for Acting (tie): Amy Adams, Junebug & Lou Taylor Pucci, Thumbsucker.
Special Jury Prizes for Originality of Vision: Me and You and Everyone We Know & Brick.
Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking (U.S.): Family Portrait, dir.: Patricia Riggen.
International Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking: Wasp (U.K.), dir.: Alison Arnold.
Rare Brazilian classic at Tampere Short Film Festival
From Berlin and Sundance to Tampere, Finland: Now in its 36th year, the Tampere International Short Film Festival continues with its exploration of short films made all over Planet Earth.
This year’s program includes movies about sociopolitical and cultural issues facing Islam, among them Kerstin Nickig’s German documentary Lieber Muslim… / Dear Muslim… (2005), about a Chechen War survivor writing letters to her young son named Muslim, and Zeina Durra’s U.S. black comedy Seventh Dog (2005), a depiction of the tragicomic life of two Arabs in New York City.
In addition, the Tampere Short Film Festival will focus on Brazilian cinema, including a screening of Adalberto Kemeny and Rudolf Rex Lustig’s 1929 (feature-film) rarity São Paulo: A Metropolitan Symphony / São Paulo, Sinfonia da Metrópole, inspired by Walter Ruttmann’s 1927 classic Berlin: Symphony of a Great City / Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt.
Berlin Film Festival website.
Sundance Film Festival website.
Images of Pauline Malefane in the operatic South African “dance movie” Carmen in Khayelitsha and Chen Shiang-chyi in Tsai Ming-liang’s The Wayward Cloud: Berlin Film Festival.
Darren E. Burrows Forty Shades of Blue image: First Look Studios.
Amy Adams Junebug image: Sony Pictures Classics.
“South African ‘Dance Movie’ + Anti-Nazi Fighters & Explicit Sex Tale Top Berlin Film Festival” last updated in July 2019.