BERLIN – The Romanian tragicomedy Child's Pose from director Calin Peter Netzer has won the Berlin Golden Bear, the best film prize, at this year's Berlin International Film Festival.
The crowd-pleasing feature won critical praise following its world premiere in Berlin, particularly for veteran Romanian actress Luminita Gheorghiu, who gives an astounding performance as a domineering mother from Romania's elite who sees a chance to regain control over her adult son when he faces manslaughter charges for reckless driving. Child's Pose has been a strong seller for Beta Cinema and is certain to launch an international career following its Berlin win tonight. Oscar contention in 2014 seems likely.
Another film international audiences haven't seen the last of is the Chilean drama Gloria from director Sebastian Lelio. Paulina Garcia won Berlin's Best Actress Silver Bear for her touching portrayal of the titular 58-year-old divorcee who takes another chance at love. Her central performance drew universal praise in Berlin.
The only double winner at this year's Berlinale was An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker from Bosnian filmmaker Danis Tanovic. The film won the Silver Bear Jury Prize as well as the Best Actor Silver Bear for lead Nazif Mujic. An Episode in the Life focuses on a real-life case that caused a national scandal in Bosnia when a poor Roma family was refused medical treatment. Tanovic convinced the real Mujic family to play themselves in this harrowing docudrama.
David Gordon Green won the Best Director Silver Bear for his laconic road-painting movie Prince Avalanche, starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch. The Sundance entry, an adaptation of the Icelandic film Either Way (2011) was one of the few films that provided Berlin audiences with some comic relief in a festival line-up otherwise heavy with politics and social realism.
Speaking of politics, the Iranian film Closed Curtain, co-directed by banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi and Kamboziya Partovi, was widely tipped to win the Golden Bear but instead had to make due with a Silver Bear for best screenplay. The self-reflective drama, made in secret and smuggled out of Iran to screen in Berlin, split audiences at this year's festival. While many saw it as a powerful metaphor for artistic censorship and depression under a dictatorship, others found it too intellectual and complex.
Harmony Lessons, the directorial debut of Kazakh writer-director Emir Baigazin was, by contrast, well-received in Berlin and his poetic story of a marginalized and bullied teenage boy won a Silver Bear for extraordinary artistic achievement for its cinematographer Aziz Zhambakiyev.
The Alfred Bauer Prize, a Silver Bear presented in honor of the Berlin Film Festival's founder, went to perhaps the strangest film in this year's line up: the lesbian revenge melodrama Vic + Flo Saw a Bear from Canadian director Denis Cote.