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Iranian film 'Taxi' wins Golden Bear at Berlin International Film Festival

Iranian director Jafar Panahi has secured another prestigious international award despite being banned from making movies. Chileans took home awards for writing, dealing with LGBT issues as well as the Jury's Grand Prix.

Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was awarded the Golden Bear, the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, but he wasn't on hand to collect it. The acclaimed 54-year-old director is not allowed to leave Iran. Officials there have also issued him a 20-year ban on making movies for "making propaganda" - a block he has defied.

Panahi's film "Taxi" follows its director around in a Tehran taxi, learning the stories of his diverse passengers, who are not actors and remain anonymous. One of the passengers was his young niece, Hana (pictured above), who came to Berlin to accept the award on her uncle's behalf.

The head of the jury was US director Darren Aronofsky, who called the film "a love letter to cinema" and praised the "incredible collection" of 19 movies that competed for the Golden Bear.

The Jury's Grand Prix, which is considered to be the second-most prestigious award at the Berlinale, went to "The Club," Chilean director Pablo Larrain's disturbing look at how the Catholic Church sheltered four pedophile priests.

Malgorzata Szumowska of Poland and Romanian director Radu Jude tied in winning the Silver Bear for best director. Szumowska's feature "Body" is an exploration of death and mourning, while Jude's "Aferim!" is a Western set in 19th century Romania.

Malgorzata Szumowska

Malgorzata Szumowska and her Silver Bear

Szumowska previously won 2013's Teddy Award for the best LGBT-themed film at the Berlinale with "In the Name Of," a drama about a young priest who struggles with his sexuality.

Chileans take home top awards

The Silver Bears for acting went to the British duo Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay for their roles in "45 Years," a film about a couple on the cusp of celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary when the body of the husband's first love is found 50 years after plunging to her death in the Alps.

The best screenplay Silver Bear went to another Chilean, director-producer Patricio Guzman, for his documentary about the Pinochet dictatorship titled "The Pearl Button."

Earlier in the day, the independent juries announced their top picks, with the Amnesty International Film Award, which highlights films dealing with human rights issues, going to the Afghan army documentary "Tell Spring Not to Come this Year." The Teddy Award for best feature was scooped up by yet another Chilean: the Chilean-American Sebastian Silva and his effort "Nasty Baby," about a gay male couple trying to have a baby with the help of their female friend.

es/gsw (AP, dpa)

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