Berlin - there was a time when new films by Theo Angelopoulos , Eric Rohmer and Ken Loach could bait just about any festival jury. Not here, not this week. The three masters dropped their latest in Berlin's increasingly lustrous Competition section and barely rose a stir. Rohmer stayed home in Paris with a bad back, perhaps knowing better than to court youth.
Frances McDormand headed a jury that included 24-year-old director Samira Makhmalbaf , who took her first breath when Rohmer was three decades into his career. It was that kind of festival - titans both judged and eclipsed by toddlers.
Of course even at his sassiest, Rohmer never made a film like Fatih Akin 's Head On . Akin took the top-prize Golden Bear for a love story that starts out savage and grows grace as it goes, leaping from drunken sex to yearning as it slips from Hamburg to Istanbul.
Akin is part of the new German-Turkish generation, and his stories echo the hyphenated romances made by Mina Shum in Vancouver (Double Happiness) or Gurinder Chadha in London (Bend It Like Beckham). But Akin packs Head On with a ferocious, violent charge. This is a love story that pushes past immigrant family dilemmas toward murder, then past murder toward even more lacerating acts, mostly acts of love.
It was a brilliant decision for the Golden Bear, although I was sorry to see Richard Linklater 's Before Sunset go home empty-handed. Julie Delpy gives her best performance in the film since Kieslowski's White, but it's meringue compared to the prize winners, and the very notion of a sequel to Before Sunrise may have offended some. Rohmer never made My Other Night At Maud's, after all.
The other big winners were Björn Runge 's Swedish relationship film Daybreak and Daniel Burman 's drama Lost Embrace , about a Jewish-Argentinian family. Daybreak's cast won an ensemble Silver Bear for best artistic contribution, and Daybreak also won the Blue Angel prize for best European film. Lost Embrace took the Grand Jury Prize and the Silver Bear for best actor ( Daniel Hendler ).
The biggest winner of all, though, may be turn out to be Catalina Sandino Moreno , the star of Maria Full Of Grace . Moreno stole a sure thing from Charlize Theron , who was the best actress favourite all week long for Monster . But the jury gave the Bear to both Theron and Moreno (they're allowed to give only one shared prize), which catapults the 22-year-old Colombian to the top of the call list for Hollywood agents.
Moreno has already relocated from Bogotá to New York and enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Institute.
When Maria Full Of Grace is released later this year, her performance as a teenage drug mule is bound to snag more prizes. Her director, Joshua Marston , gives her "about five minutes" before she's a star.
Robert Lepage 's FIPRESCI critics' prize for Far Side Of The Moon was the only award to a Canadian film at the Berlinale, but over at the festival's Talent Campus, Toronto composer Tom Third topped the score competition. A panel including sound designer Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now, The English Patient) judged Third the best composer based on three test excerpts from Talent Campus films. The prize sends Third to London for an upcoming School of Sound symposium.
Berlin Competition Prizes
Golden Bear for Best Film Head On, directed by Fatih Akin
Grand Jury Prize Silver Bear Lost Embrace, directed by Daniel Burman
Silver Bear, Best Director Kim Kiduk for Samaritan Girl
Silver Bear, Best Artistic Contribution The cast of Daybreak, directed by Björn Runge
Silver Bear, Best Actor Daniel Hendler for Lost Embrace
Silver Bear, Best Actress Charlize Theron for Monster and Catalina Sandino Moreno for Maria Full Of Grace
Silver Bear, Best Music Banda Osiris, for First Love
Alfred Bauer Prize Maria Full Of Grace, directed by Joshua Marston
Blue Angel Prize Daybreak