Director wins Silver Bear for 'Ghost Writer'
Roman Polanski has been named best director at the Berlin Film Festival for his controversial political thriller “The Ghost Writer,” while the Golden Bear for best pic went to Semih Kaplanoglu’s Turkish-German film “Honey.”Producers Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde accepted the Silver Bear for Polanski, who remains under house arrest at his chalet in Switzerland, awaiting possible extradition to the U.S. “When I was lamenting with him that he cannot be with us, he said to me, ‘even if I could, I wouldn’t because the last time I went to a festival to get a prize, I ended up in jail.’” Sarde said during Saturday’s ceremony. The 76-year-old filmmaker is wanted by Los Angeles prosecutors for fleeing the U.S. in 1978 after pleading guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. Florin Serban’s Romanian film “If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle,” about an 18-year-old who is about to be released from a juvenile detention center but is pushed over the limit by the reappearance of his deadbeat mom, took both the Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear as well as the Alfred Bauer Prize. Russian helmer Alexei Popogrebsky celebrated two Silver Bears wins for “How I Ended This Summer”: Grigori Dobrygin and Sergei Puskepalis shared best actor kudos for the film, about two men stranded in a polar station on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean, and cinematographer Pavel Kostomarov won the outstanding artistic contribution Silver Bear for his camera work. The Silver Bear for actress went to Shinobu Terajima for Japanese drama “Caterpillar.” Wang Quanan and Na Jin won the Silver Bear for screenplay for Quanan’s “Apart Together,” which opened this year’s fest. “This was the coldest Berlinale I’ve ever experienced, but in the theater, it was definitely the warmest that I’ve ever experienced,” said Quanan, who dedicate the film, about the division of a nation and lost lovers trying to reunite after more than half a century, to the city of Berlin. The first feature nod went to Babak Najafi for his Swedish Generation screener “Sebbe,” about a troubled teen who inadvertently builds a bomb. German multihyphenate Werner Herzog lead the Berlin competition jury, which included thesps Rene Zellweger, Germany’s Cornelia Froboess and China’s Yu Nan, Italo helmer Francesca Comencini, Somali scribe Nuruddin Farah and Spanish producer Jose Maria Morales. Despite few standout films this year, the 60th Berlinale is expected to set an attendance record, with some 300,000 admissions likely by the end of the fest on Sunday. Although German titles failed to win any major awards this year, the fest was yet another success for the local industry. Both “Ghost Writer” and “Honey,” the story of a small boy and his family in Turkey’s mountainous northeastern province of Rize, are German co-productions. Indeed, as he accepted Polanski’s award, Benmussa thanked Germany’s federal and regional funders, without which the film would not have been possible, as well as Studio Babelsberg, where the pic was shot. The Teddy Awards, announced earlier on Friday, went to Lisa Cholodenko’s Competition screener “The Kids Are All Right,” which stars Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as a lesbian couple whose family is turned upside down by their sperm donor. Italian helmer Pietro Marcello’s Forum title “The Mouth of the Wolf,” a Genoa love story about a transsexual and her longtime partner, took the documentary prize, while actor-filmmaker James Franco, who appeared in Golden Bear contender “Howl,” won for his short “The Feast of Stephen,” inspired by Anthony Hecht’s homoerotic poem. Franco was among a slew of international celebs who generated plenty of star wattage throughout the icy, 11-day event, among them Pierce Brosnan, Jackie Chan, Shah Rukh Khan, Gerard Depardieu, Ewan McGregor, Gael Garcia Bernal, Leonardo DiCaprio, Isabelle Adjani, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams and Ben Stiller. For a complete list of the Berlinale winners, visit www.berlinale.de.