The 64th Berlinale closed this evening with James Schamus’s jury’s surprise awarding of the Golden Bear, which many expected to go to Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” but went instead to Diao Yinan’s atmospheric noir, “Bai Ri Yan Huo (Black Coal, Thin Ice).”
Set in Northern China in 1999, it follows an ex-cop investigating the appearance of several chopped up bodies in a coal processing plant and the woman at the heart of the murders, with whom he falls inexorably in love. Intriguing and entertaining, channeling classic American detective thrillers, “Black Coal, Thin Ice” also happens to be overlong and a not a little confusing. It does feature a strong lead actor in Liao Fan, who received the Silver Bear for best actor, but it’s hard to see how the film stands up to “Boyhood” (review here). Perhaps the jury was put off by articles in Berlin newspapers this week basically handing the award to Linklater, who did take home a consolation prize, the Silver Bear for best director.
Wes Anderson, director of “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” received the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize. (Review here, junket quiz here) Presenter and jurist Greta Gerwig read a letter from Anderson, who thanked the Berlinale for his “first actual metal award from a film festival.” Alain Resnais’ “Aimer, boire et changer (Life of Riley),” the latest from the 91-year-old director, received the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize for a feature film that opens new perspectives. This seems a curious category for a film of a play (by Alan Ayckbourn), but whatever, it’s Alain Resnais.
Berlin siblings Dietrich Brüggemann and Anna Brüggemann were awarded the Silver Bear for Best Script for their popular “Kreuzweg (Stations of the Cross),” directed by Dietrich Brüggemann (review here). The Silver Bear for Best Actress went to Haru Kuroki in Yoji Yamada’s “Chiisai Ouchi (The Little House)” while the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution was picked up by Zeng Jian for his camera work in Lou Ye’s film, “Tui Na (Blind Massage).”
Other prizes included Best First Feature Award to “Güeros” from Mexican director Alonso Ruiz Palacios; the Golden Bear for Best Short Film went to “Tant Qu’il Nous Reste des Fusils a Pompe (As Long As Shotguns Remain)” by Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel; and the Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film) was awarded to Guillaume Cailleau’s “Laborat.”