Berlin (dpa) – Romanian director Adina Pintilie on Saturday became only the second filmmaker from her nation to win the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear for best picture for her confrontational and explicit exploration of sexuality and intimacy in “Touch Me Not.”
One of 19 films competing for top honours at this year’s Berlinale and drawing on experimental filmmaking techniques, Pintilie’s movie uses an array of different bodies as well as full-frontal nudity to highlight the human desire for contact.
“Touch Me Not” divided festivalgoers at the 68th Berlinale and was a surprise choice for the top award in Berlin, which each year celebrates cinema with the festival’s trademark mix of old moviemaking hands and new faces.
“It’s not about what cinema can do but where it can go,” said leading German director Tom Tykwer, who headed up festival’s six-member jury.
Pintilie also won the festival’s best debut feature film award.
She told the gala awards ceremony that she was in “a feverish state” as a result of the flu and that was a totally appropriate state of mind for accepting the award.
Romania has emerged as a major force on the world cinema stage over the last decade or so, after Cristi Puiu’s “The Death of Mr Lazarescu” helped set off the so-called Romanian New Wave of filmmaking.
This was followed by Romanian director Cristian Mungiu winning the Palm d’Or, the top prize at Cannes, in 2007 for his “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.”
Announcing the awards, the jury also honoured Poland’s Malgorzata Szumowska with the Berlinale’s second-most important award, the Grand Jury Prize for “Twarz” (“Mug”).
Szumowska’s success came three years after she tied for the Berlinale’s best directing award for “Body.” In 2013, she won the festival’s gay award, the Teddy, for “In The Name Of.”
Set against the construction on the Polish-German border of the world’s largest-ever statute of Jesus, “Twarz” tells the story of a man enduring provincial intolerance and a personal crisis after an accident forced him to receive a face transplant.
Accepting the award on Saturday, Szumowska said her film “reflected the problems not just in my own country but in the world.”
Ever popular with cinema audiences, Texan-born filmmaker Wes Anderson was awarded the Silver Bear for best director for his movie about a 12-year-old boy searching for his lost dog in “Isle of Dogs,” which became the first animated film to open the Berlinale.
Set in a futurist Japan, Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” quickly emerged as an early favourite among film critics for a top award at this year’s Berlinale. It was his fourth film he has presented in the Berlinale’s main competition.
Paraguay’s Ana Brun won the Silver Bear for best actress for her tour-de-force performance as a 50-something woman facing a dramatic change in financial circumstances after her life-long partner was jailed for fraud in Marcelo Martinessi’s “Las herederas” (“The Heiresses”).
Martinessi also won the festival’s Alfred Bauer Prize, for a feature film that opens new perspectives, for “Las herederas.”
A relative newcomer, Anthony Bajon, was awarded the Silver Bear for best actor for his portrayal of a 22-year-old drug addict seeking to kick his habit in a monastery-style mountain retreat in French director Cedric Kahn’s “La priere” (“The Prayer”).
Mexico’s Alonso Ruizpalacios and Manuel Alcala won the Silver Bear for best script for their coming-of-age artefacts heist “Museo” (“Museum”), which was directed by Ruizpalacios.
The Silver Bear for outstanding artistic contribution went to Elena Okopnaya for costume design in “Dovlatov” by Alexey German Jr of Russia, which recreated the Soviet Union in 1971.
Austrian filmmaker Ruth Beckermann was awarded the Berlinale’s Glashutte original documentary Award for “Waldheims Walzer,” about the Nazi past of former Austrian politician and UN secretary general Kurt Waldheim.
Accepting the award, Beckermann expressed surprise that “populism, anti-Semitism and racism can win elections,” she went on to say that “this theme is today now topical, not only in Europe but in the Western world.”