Asian glory as Berlin film festival wraps up

Asian films and filmmakers scored exceptionally well at the Berlinale.

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The 64th Berlin International Film Festival wrapped up on Sunday after a resounding triumph for Asian cinema at its gala awards ceremony, including the Golden Bear top prize for a Chinese noir mystery.

Bai Ri Yan Huo (Black Coal, Thin Ice), by Diao Yinan, about a washed-up ex-cop investigating a series of grisly murders, took the highest honour on Saturday as well as the Silver Bear Best Actor Award for its star Liao Fan.

“It’s really hard to believe that this dream has come true,” Diao said, fighting back tears as he accepted the trophy.

In a remarkably strong showing for Asian contenders, the Berlinale, Europe’s first major film festival of the year, gave its Best Actress Award to Japan’s Haru Kuroki for her role as a discreet housemaid in wartime Tokyo in Yoji Yamada’s Chiisai Ouchi (The Little House).

The second of three Chinese films in competition in Berlin, Tui Na (Blind Massage) – featuring a cast made up in part of amateur blind actors – captured a Silver Bear prize for Outstanding Artistic Contribution for the cinematographer Zeng Jian.

American films shared the glory, with Wes Anderson’s historical caper The Grand Budapest Hotel claiming the runner-up Silver Bear grand jury prize. Anderson noted in an acceptance speech read out by the actress Greta Gerwig, a member of the jury, that it was his first award at a film festival.

Richard Linklater, who shot his innovative coming-of-age drama Boyhood over more than a decade with the same actors and was widely tipped to take the Golden Bear, won Best Director.

The 11-day festival closed yesterday with screenings of its most popular features from a line-up of more than 400 movies. The Berlinale’s director Dieter Kosslick said the event sold a record 330,000 tickets this year.