"Head-On," a film by a German-Turkish director won the Golden Bear at the 54th Berlin Film Festival Saturday, marking the first time in 18 years that a submission from Germany managed to take the Berlinale's top prize.
A scene from "Head-On."
An international jury led by U.S. actress Frances McDormand also awarded South African Charlize Theron a Silver Bear for her role in "Monster" and Uruguay's Daniel Hendler won a best actor award for his role as a young Jewish architect in the low-budget Argentine film "Lost Embrace" (El Abrazo Partido).
Directed by German-Turkish director Fatih Akin, "Head-On" (Gegen die Wand) tells the story of a marriage of convenience between two Turks in Hamburg: young Sibel, who is trying to escape the influence of her traditional family, and the older and self-destructive Cahit.
"I love this film," jury president McDormand told the Reuters new agency. "It said in a wonderful way so many things that a lot of the other films said as well. 'Head-On' told them in a most powerful and most modern way."
The film beat out 22 other submissions in the competition, which took place over ten days in the German capital. The festival also included a range of other events such as a short film festival, a section for upcoming art house movies called Panorama and screenings of the latest offerings in "German Cinema."
German cineman revival
The Golden Bear for "Head-On" continues what appears to be the beginnings of a revival of the German film industry, following the international success of "Good Bye, Lenin!" and the Oscar last year for "Nowhere in Africa." It would also seem like Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick's efforts to use the event to strengthen the position of German cinema around the world is paying off.
German-Turkish director Fatih Akin.
Akin, whose film focusing on the problems of second and third-generation Turkish immigrants in Germany, said he was pleased he could "make two countries happy at the same time" with the award.
After the heavy topic matter of "Head-On" -- the film has plenty of violence and sadness -- Akin said he hoped to make a comedy next. "My best work lies ahead of me," the 30-year-old said on Saturday.
Although "Head-On" had been popular with festival-goers, its win comes as a bit of a surprise since other movies including "Before Sunset" starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy and "Ae Fond Kiss" by British director Ken Loach had been among the favorites.
But its success shouldn't hurt the Berlinale, which will continue to jockey with Cannes and Venice for glamour and influence among Europe's leading film festivals.