Iranian drama takes top awards at film festival

Berlin — Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian drama “Nader and Simin, a Separation,” a look at contemporary Iranian society, took the top three awards at the Berlinale on Saturday, including the Golden Bear for best pic and ensemble male and female casts for actor and actress Silver Bears.

The pic’s wins underscored the fest’s focus on repression in Iran and on the plight of filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who was sentenced to six years in prison in December. Panahi had been invited to serve on this year’s Berlinale jury before his conviction.

This year’s top prize marks Farhadi’s second major win in Berlin – in

2009 he took the director Silver Bear for “About Elly,” his second film.

German helmer Ulrich Koehler took the Silver Bear for director for his drama “Sleeping Sickness,” about a doctor who runs a medical program in Cameroon, while Hungary’s Bela Tarr nabbed the Jury Grand Prize for “The Turin Horse.”

Joshua Marston and Andamion Murataj won a Silver Bear for their screenplay for the Albanian-set drama “The Forgiveness of Blood,”

while Cinematographer Wojciech Staron and production designer Barbara Enriquez took Silver Bears for outstanding contribution for their work on Paula Markovitch’s “The Prize,” about a family in hiding during Argentina’s military dictatorship of the 1970s.

German director Andres Veiel nabbed the Alfred Bauer Prize for “If Not Us, Who,” which explores the roots of West German terrorism.

Isabella Rossellini presided over the Berlin competition jury, which included German actress Nina Hoss, Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, Aussie producer Jan Chapman, Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin and British costume designer Sandy Powell.

Additional prizes went to Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s Alaskan-set Generation 14plus screener “On the Ice,” which took the First Feature Award.

Arild Andresen’s Norwegian Generation Kplus title “The Liverpool Goalie,” about a nerdy kid’s efforts to win over the girl of his dreams, picked up the Crystal Bear.

The Panorama sidebar’s Audience Awards went to Iciar Bollain’s “Even the Rain” and Britta Wauer’s doc “In Heaven Underground – The Weissensee Jewish Cemetery.”

The Teddy Awards went to Marco Berger’s Argentinean Forum screener “Absent,” about a school boy who compromises his sport teacher and subsequently exploits the adult’s delicate position, while French helmer Marie Losier’s Forum title “The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye,” about English artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and his partner Lady Jaye (aka Jacqueline Breyer) and their efforts to merge into a “pandrogynous” being, took the documentary prize.

The Amnesty International Film Award wen to Mantas Kvedaravicius’

chilling Chechnya documentary “Barzakh.”

Among the international celebs gracing the red carpet throughout the 11-day event were Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld, Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zach Quinto, Diane Kruger, Colin Firth, Helena Bonham-Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Mark Strong, Brendan Gleeson, Dominic Cooper and Harry Belafonte.

Despite few standout films this year, the 61st Berlinale again proved a hit with the public and is expected to be on par with last year’s record-setting 300,000 admissions by the end of the fest on Sunday.

Complete list of winners from Berlin Film Festival:

Golden Bear for Best Film
‘Nader And Simin, A Separation’

Silver Bear, The Jury Grand Prix
‘A torinói ló’ (The Turin Horse)

Silver Bear, Best Director
Ulrich Köhler for ‘Schlafkrankheit’ (Sleeping Sickness)

Silver Bear, Best Actress
for ensemble in ‘Nader and Simin’
Sarina Farhadi, Sareh Bayat, Leila Hatami

Silver Bear, Best Actor
for ensemble in ‘Nader And Simin, A Separation’
Peyman Moadi, Ali Asghar Shahbazi, Babak Karimi

Silver Bear, Outstanding Artistic Achievement
Wojciech Staron for camera in ‘El premio’ (The Prize)

Ex Aequo
Barbara Enriquez for the production design in El premio (The Prize)

Silver Bear, Best Script
Joshua Marston and Andamion Murataj for ‘The Forgiveness Of Blood’

Alfred Bauer Prize
Awarded in memory of the Festival founder, for a work of particular innovation.
Wer wenn nicht wir’ (If Not Us, Who)
by Andres Veiel

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