‘Head’ above Berlin waters

Teuton pic looks Golden at fest

This article was updated at 3:58 p.m. on Feb. 15, 2004.

BERLIN — In a surprise win, Fatih Akin’s “Head-On” has become the first German film to take the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear for best pic in nearly two decades, highlighting what has turned out to be a sweeping victory for a new generation of young filmmakers.

“Head-On,” a love story between two alienated Turkish-Germans in Hamburg, offers a provocative and humorous look at people living between cultures. Pic bested films like Ron Howard’s “The Missing,” John Boorman’s “Country of My Skull,” Ken Loach’s “Ae Fond Kiss” and Eric Rohmer’s “Triple Agent.”

The announcement of the Golden Bear winner was greeted with resounding applause at the awards ceremony Saturday evening. “I didn’t expect this at all,” Akin said upon accepting the prize.

Fest interruptions

Like the opening festivities last week, the ceremony at the Berlinale Palast theater at Potsdamer Platz was interrupted by students demonstrating against government cutbacks at universities.

Guests walking up the red carpet were confronted first by streakers, some of whom were arrested on the spot. Later, as fest topper Dieter Kosslick and host Anke Engelke were onstage, protesters who had entered the theater threw leaflets into the audience and used a loudspeaker to express their grievances.

Trying to find a diplomatic solution, Kosslick gave the protesters the opportunity to be heard: “I’ve been asked by the police if I want to press charges. I don’t, and if you want to say what you want in one minute, you may — but at least put some clothes on first before you catch a cold.”

In a fest dominated by dark and gloomy pics, the seven-member jury, headed by Frances McDormand, honored another upbeat film about the immigrant experience, Daniel Burman’s “Lost Embrace,” which picked up the Grand Jury Prize and won actor Daniel Hendler a Silver Bear for his performance as the rudderless son of estranged Jewish parents in Buenos Aires who dreams of emigrating to Poland, the country his grandparents fled during the Nazi era.

Joshua Marston’s “Maria Full of Grace,” a solemn look at the human aspects of drug smuggling, also grabbed up two awards, the Alfred Bauer Prize for feature as well as female perf for newcomer Catalina Sandino Moreno, who shared the Silver Bear with “Monster” star Charlize Theron.

The director award went to Kim Ki-Duk for “Samaria,” while the entire ensemble of Sweden’s “Daybreak” was awarded a Silver Bear for artistic contribution. Bjorn Runge’s film, a dark and provocative drama about a group of people searching for redemption, also picked up the x25,000 ($32,000) Blue Angel Award.

The gay and lesbian Teddy prize went to Sebastien Lifschitz’s Panorama screener “Wild Side,” while Andrew Horn took docu kudos for “The Nomi Song.”

Bumpy start

The 54th fest got off to a bumpy start thanks to a number of last-minute no-shows by Hollywood talent. “There was no one here but you and me, but that was enough,” Kosslick said to show host Engelke onstage, joking about the many cancellations. Yet the event was quick to get back on track with its strong slate of thought-provoking pics, which often focused on the individual while set against larger backdrops of war, poverty and immigration, and with the bustling business at this year’s European Film Market, which is set to expand next year as the AFM moves to the fall.

The success of “Head-On” and “Lost Embrace” as well as popular Panorama screeners like “Walk on Water,” “Cachorro,” “The Nomi Song” and “Love in Thoughts” generated strong sales for Euro sellers Bavaria, Beta, Celluloid Dream and Media Luna, all of whom reported brisk business at the market.

And the winners are. . .

Head-On” (Germany)


Grand Jury Prize
Lost Embrace” (Argentina)

Catalina Sandino Moreno (“Maria Full of Grace,” U.S.A, Colombia)
Charlize Theron, (“Monster,” U.S.A)

Daniel Hendler (“Lost Embrace,” Argentina)

Kim Ki-Duk (“Samaria,” South Korea)

Individual Artistic Contribution
The Entire Ensemble (“Daybreak,” Sweden)

Alfred Bauer Prize
Maria Full of Grace” (U.S.A., Colombia)

Film Music
Banda Osiris (“First Love,” Italy)

Blue Angel Award
Daybreak” (Sweden)

Teddy 2003
Wild Side” (France, feature)
The Nomi Song” (Germany, documentary)
With What Shall I Wash It?” (Spain, short)

Peace Film Prize
Witnesses” (Croatia)

Cigarettes and Coffee” (Romania, Golden Bear)
Vet! Great!” (Netherlands, Jury Prize, Silver Bear)
Public/Private” (Argentina, Special Mention)

Prix UIP Berlin
Cigarettes and Coffee” (Romania, Golden Bear)

Ecumenical Jury Prizes
Ae Fond Kiss…” (U.K., Competition, main prize)
Witnesses” (Croatia, special mention)
I Like to Work” (Italy, Panorama)
A Wonderful Spell” (France, Forum)

Fipresci (int’l. critics assn.) Prizes
Head-On” (Germany, Competition)
Far Side of the Moon” (Canada, Panorama)
The Time We Killed” (U.S.A., Forum)

LVT/Manfred Salzgeber Prize
Wild Side” (France)

Panorama Audience Awards
Addicted to Acting” (Germany, feature)
Passing Hearts” (Sweden, short)

Kinderfilmfest Crystal Bears
Magnifico” (Philippines, Crystal Bear)
The Blindgaenger” (Germany, special mention)
Raining Cats and Frogs” (France, special mention)
Stormy Night” (Canada, short, Crystal Bear)
Circuit Marine” (France, Canada, short, special mention)
Tides” (U.S.A., short, special mention)

14plus – Films for the Young Generation
The Wooden Camera” (France, U.K., Crystal Bear)
Quality of Life” (U.S.A., special mention)

Kinderfilmfest Intl. Jury Prizes
Magnifico” (Philippines, grand prize)
The Blindgaenger” (Germany, special mention)
Yoshino’s Barber Shop” (Japan, special mention)
Lucia” (Germany, short, special prize)
Little Daddy” (Denmark, short, special mention)
Cracker Bag” (Australia, short, special mention)

Guild of German Art House Cinemas Prize
Ae Fond Kiss…” (U.K.)

CICAE (intl. confederation of arthouse cinemas) Prizes
O Outro Lado Da Rua” (Brazil, France, Panorama)
B-Happy” (Chile, Spain, Forum)

Wolfgang Staudte Award
Final Solution” (India)

Caligari Film Prize
After Midnight” (Italy)

Planet Documentary Film Award
Goat Walker” (Poland)

Berlin Today Award
BerlinBeirurt” (Germany, Berlinale Talent Campus short)

Perspektive Deutsches Kino Dialogue en Perspective Award
Flammend’ Herz
Der Typ” (special prize)

South of the Clouds” (China)
Final Solution” (India, special mention)

Don Quixote (intl. federation of film societies) Prize
After Midnight” (Italy)
B-Happy” (Chile, Spain, special mention)
Campfire” (Israel, special mention)

Berliner Morgenpost Readers’ Prize
25 Degrees in Winter” (Belgium, France)

Siegessaeule Readers’ Prize
D.E.B.S.” (U.S.A.)

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