Special Report: Berlin International Film Festival 2004

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
The 'Berlinale'—the International Berlin Film Festival which just ended on Sunday is probably the best European film festival due to a diversity of categories which range from the coveted prestigious prizes of the Golden and Silver Bear, the Crystal Bear children’s awards, to the Teddy Awards for gay and lesbian films.

The out of competition film Cold Mountain by Anthony Minghella opened the Berlinale this year, with Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinsten attending with Minghella and actors Brendan Gleeson and Philip Seymour Hoffmann - but without Jude Law Renee Zellwegger and Nicole Kidman who were either shooting or attending to family business. Weinstein conveyed at the press conference that Cold Mountain had received negative press from US journalists because part of it was shot in Romania. "There has been a a real campaign to stop movies leaving America to shoot, Weinstein explained. He said that he was proud of 'Cold Mountain' being a European film, criticizing how few European films are shown in the US and that "the major networks have not shown one single European movie in 25 years."

That being said, this year the jury was presided over by Frances McDormand. At the end of the 10 day pageant the jury presented the first special award of the festival , named after Marlene Dietrich: The Blue Angel which went to Daybreak by Björn Runge from Sweden --a film about people who lie to themselves and to their loved ones- and the entire ensemble cast also won a special acting award.

A film about contemporary Germany Head On by Fatih Akin – a virtually unknown international director took home the Golden Bear.
The film is a complicated love story about two young Germans of Turkish extraction.

The long awaited odyssey The Weeping Meadow by Theo Angelopoulos transpires from 1919 to 1949 when Eleni and Alexis are forced to flee Odessa to Greece as children where they later come to experience both World War II and civil war.

Monster created a buzz with a Silver Bear acting award for Charlize Theron and the film quickly snatched up by European distributors. Theron plays Aileen Wuornos, a homeless prostitute who killed seven men who paid her for sexual services. Wuornos claims the first murder was in self defense and sparked off a series of killings and was executed last year.

"I'm not for the death penalty and working on this film didn't really change anything for me," Theron admitted at the press conference for Monster."I don't think condemning people who murder and then killing them necessarily sends out the right message" she added. The film's director, Patty Jenkins agreed.

Berlinale is a rich pageant of global cinema, and hopefully several of the films will find distribution in the US.

For Movie Magazine, this Is Moira Sullivan

More Information:
Berlin International Film Festival 2004