Updated: 02/16/2014 10:50 | By Agence France-Presse

Asian glory as Berlin film fest wraps up

The 64th Berlin film festival wraps up Sunday after a resounding triumph for Asian cinema at its gala awards ceremony, including the Golden Bear top prize for a Chinese noir mystery.


Asian glory as Berlin film fest wraps up

Director Diao Yinan holds the Golden Bear award for Best Film at the Berlin film festival on February 15, 2014 - by David Gannon

"Bai Ri Yan Huo" (Black Coal, Thin Ice) by Diao Yinan about a washed up ex-cop investigating a series of grisly murders took the highest honour late Saturday as well as the Silver Bear best actor award for its star Liao Fan.

"It's really hard to believe that this dream has come true," Diao said as he accepted the trophy, fighting back tears.

It was the first Chinese film to win in Berlin since the unconventional love story "Tuya De Hunshi" (Tuya's Marriage) by Wang Quan'an brought home the gold in 2007.

In a remarkably strong showing for Asian contenders, the Berlinale, Europe's first major film festival of the year, gave its best actress prize to Japan's Haru Kuroki for her role as a discreet housemaid in wartime Tokyo in Yoji Yamada's "The Little House" (Chiisai Ouchi).

American films shared the glory, with Wes Anderson's historical caper "The Grand Budapest Hotel", offering a nostalgic look back at a Europe lost to war, claiming the runner-up Silver Bear grand jury prize.

The picture starring Ralph Fiennes had opened the Berlinale on February 6. Anderson noted in an acceptance speech read out by US actress Greta Gerwig, a member of the jury, that it was his first award at a film festival.

Texas filmmaker Richard Linklater, who shot his innovative coming-of-age drama "Boyhood" over more than a decade with the same actors and was widely tipped to take the Golden Bear, won best director.

"This says best director but I want to think of it as best ensemble," said Linklater, clutching the trophy.

- Whitest of whales -

Best screenplay went to the German siblings Dietrich and Anna Brueggemann for their wrenching drama "Stations of the Cross" (Kreuzweg) about a teenager who makes the ultimate sacrifice for her fundamentalist Catholic family.

Veteran French director Alain Resnais drew the Alfred Bauer Prize for work of particular innovation for his play-within-a-film "Life of Riley" (Aimer, boire et chanter).

And the second of three Chinese films in competition in Berlin, "Blind Massage" (Tui Na) featuring a cast made up in part of amateur blind actors, captured a Silver Bear prize for outstanding artistic contribution for cinematographer Zeng Jian.

A nine-member jury led by US producer James Schamus ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") handed out the prizes at a theatre in the German capital.

"Black Coal, Thin Ice" is set in the late 1990s in the frosty reaches of northern China and its murder mystery plot is told through enigmatic flashbacks. It is Diao's third feature film.

Liao said he put on 20 kilogrammes (44 pounds) to play the alcoholic suspended police officer who falls hard for a beautiful murder suspect, played by Taiwanese actress Gwei Lun Mei.

Diao said he saw his film as bridging the gap between pure arthouse cinema and multiplex fare.

"I finally did find the right way to combine a film which has a commercial aspect to it but which is nonetheless art, so that it's possible to launch it in these terms," he told reporters after the awards ceremony.

He said Chinese films were gaining ground in Western cinemas thanks in part to their exposure at major film festivals. 

"Every time that we take our films abroad it seems that there is an ever greater enthusiasm for Chinese cinema," he said.

"Black Coal, Thin Ice" divided audiences in Berlin but won over many critics.

Movie news website Indiewire noted buzz about the picture had been strong ahead of its screening "on the possibility of the film becoming that whitest of whales: a crossover Chinese-language international hit".

Industry magazine The Hollywood Reporter hailed it as "a salute to the classic Hollywood film noir, an exciting stylistic tour-de-force" but questioned its foreign box-office prospects.

The 11-day festival wraps up Sunday with screenings of its most popular features from a lineup of more than 400 movies.

Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick said the event had sold a record 330,000 tickets this year.

On Thursday British director Ken Loach picked up an honorary Golden Bear for his life's work.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。