by Becky T.
The Berlinale Award presentation on February 19 lasted less than an hour, much shorter than the Academy Award ceremony which was just eight days later. In fast-forward time the winners climbed up to the stage, spoke two minutes and disappeared again. Hungarian Béla Tarr didn’t speak at all, but just took his award and left. Supposedly, he plans to end his directing career with this film. Later, the winning film showed to a – by then – sparse audience, as large swaths of people impolitely and immediately took off for after-award parties without paying the courtesy of watching the excellent winner: Nader and Simin, a Separation. German comedienne Anke Engelke, hosted with the help of Dieter Kosslick, the head of the Berlinale since ten years. This team also opened the Berlinale on February 10, with a “wooden” Engelke who forgot her lines. She had improved considerably for the wind-up ceremony, even falling naturally into one of her well-known Gastarbeiter roles, speaking German with an accent. Perhaps I shouldn’t be too hard on her or anyone else, considering that she, and others, jumped from German to English and back, something the Oscar-award presenters never have to do.
Isabella Rossellini was jury chair for films in competition. Eight international filmmakers from Australia, Germany, India, Canada, Great Britain, Israel and Morocco served on the committee. The Iranian director Jafar Panahi could not fulfil his duties. There were other juries for children’s films and short films. There were independent juries which struck out on their own according to their interests. In some cases the audience got to pick and in the end there were 62 winners, some awards presented the night or afternoon before the final formal ceremony.