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Jafar Panahi’s ‘Taxi’ Wins Golden Bear at Berlin Film Fest

BERLIN — This year’s Berlinale Golden Bear was won by Jafar Panahi’s film “Taxi,” in which the Iranian director posed as a taxi driver and rode through the streets of Teheran, engaging his passengers in running dialogues, capturing the spirit of Iranian society.

It was a particularly emotional moment as jury president Darren Aronofsky and festival director Dieter Kosslick reminded the audience of the empty chair that was left onstage for Panahi when he was a jury member in 2011 and not allowed to attend. Absent yet again this year, he was represented by his family onstage.

His little daughter accepted the award for him and was so choked up with tears of happiness that she could barely speak, saying, “I can’t say anything, I’m so moved.”

At the start of the ceremony, Aronofsky remarked that the jury had a hard time choosing the award-winning films, despite the fact that they were largely in agreement, but because they had too many films they wanted to honor. They therefore decided to split some of the prizes and give double awards in selected categories.

Aronofsky also announced that the whole jury would remain onstage for the entire award ceremony because “we feel like all the prizes were agreed upon by everyone and so we want to represent all the prizes together.”

The Silver Bear for best direction was one of the double prizes, picked up by Romanian director Radu Jude for “Aferim!” and Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska for “Body.” Accepting her award, Szumowska remarked, “I’m a director and I’m also a woman. I think that’s a nice combination.”

The Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize went to “El Club” (“The Club”) by Chilean director Pablo Larraín, while the film “45 Years” nabbed both acting awards for Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling. Courtenay joked that it took him 30 years to catch up to his friend Albert Finney, who won the same prize for “The Dresser” in 1984.

In an interesting twist, the Silver Bear for script was won by the documentary “El botón de nácar” (“The Pearl Button”) from Chilean writer-director Patricio Guzmán.

A second double prize was the Silver Bear for cinematography, awarded to Sturla Brandth Grøvlen for his work on “Victoria,” as well as to Evgeniy Privin and Sergey Mikhalchuk for lensing the Russian film “Pod Electricheskimi Oblakami” (“Under Electric Clouds”).

Finally, the first feature award went to “600 Millas” (“6600 Miles”) by Gabriel Ripstein and the Alfred Bauer Prize for a feature film that “opens new perspectives” was snapped up by Jayro Bustamante for “Ixcanul” (“Volcano”).

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