'Mifune' nabs top jury honor

BERLIN — Terrence Malick’s “The Thin Red Line” walked off with the Golden Bear for best feature Sunday at the Berlin Film Festival, while Danish hit “Mifune” nabbed the Jury Grand Prix award.

Silver Bear awards went to Stephen Frears, best director for “The Hi-Lo Country,” and scripters Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, outstanding single achievement for “Shakespeare in Love.”

In a year when the festival drew plaudits for its strongest competition lineup in years, the awards cast an eccentric pall over the event’s final weekend.

One jury insider told Daily Variety the decision process was “like a market, with everyone horse-trading.” The broader spread of awards, however, reflected the festival’s success in showcasing pics from both veteran lensers and newcomers.

The Frears announcements was met with jeers from assembled scribes — nothing, however, compared with the boos for David Cronenberg’s personal Silver Bear for “eXistenZ,” considered his lightest film to date.

For the first time in memory, German thesps monopolized acting prizes, with veteran Michael Gwisdek nabbing best actor for the surprise hit drama “Night Shapes,” and Juliane Koehler and Maria Schrader sharing best actress as lesbian lovers in the fest’s opener, “Aimee & Jaguar.”

Notably overlooked were Robert Altman’s “Cookie’s Fortune,” one of the highlights of the fest’s strong closing weekend, and Bertrand Tavernier’s social drama “Ca commence aujourd’hui” (It All Starts Today), which took only a Fipresci prize and a Special Mention.

The jury’s several Special Mentions reflected the deep divisions within the fractious pack of eight — down one following the unexplained departure Friday of Israeli director Assi Dayan.

Other awards included:

Blue Angel Prize (best European film): “Journey to the Sun,” Yesim Ustaoglu, (Turkey-Netherlands-Germany);

Alfred Bauer Prize (best first film): “Karnaval,” Thomas Vincent (France-Belgium-Switzerland);

Special Mentions: John Toll, director of photography, “The Thin Red Line”; Iben Hjejle, actress, “Mifune”;

Ecumenical Jury: “It All Starts Today.”

Fipresci (Intl. Film Critics Assn.): “Ca commence aujourd’hui,” (competition); “Wait and See” (Shinji Somai, Japan) (Panorama); “Dealer,” (Thomas Arslan, Germany) (Forum).

German Arthouse Cinemas Guild: “Cookie’s Fortune” (Robert Altman, U.S.).

Intl. Confederation of Arthouse Cinemas: “The War Zone” (Tim Roth, U.K.).

Panorama Audience Prize: “Alone” (Benito Zambrano, Spain).

Peace Film Prize: “Journey to the Sun.”

Teddy 1999 (best gay feature): “Fucking Amal” (Lukas Moodysson, Sweden).

Wolfgang Staudte Award: “The Cruise” (Bennett Miller, U.S.).

Short films

Golden Bear, shared: “Faraon,” Sergey Ovcharov, Russia; “Masks,” Piotr Karwas, Germany-Poland.

Jury Prize (Silver Bear): “Desserts,” Jeff Stark, U.K.

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