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Film Round-up The jury's out

The top film at the Berlin Film Festival wasn't met with universal acclaim, reports RITA DI SANTO, but others fared better

THE GOLDEN Bear, top prize at the Berlin Film Festival, went to Adina Pintilie’s Touch Me Not, a jury decision that did not go down well with the press.

The first feature from the Romanian artist and film-maker, it's a provocative film about sexuality that follows the journey of three people as they explore their need for, and issues with, physical intimacy.

A tale of sexual obsession, portentous and ultimately unsatisfactory, it features long stretches of graphic nudity and makes for a very long two hours.

Wes Anderson rightly won the best director award for his heart-breaking, stop-motion feature Isle of Dogs. It's set 20 years in the future, where the corrupt mayor of a Japanese metropolis has banished all dogs affected by an uncontrollable disease.

Never lapsing into whimsy, the story unfolds with the simplicity of a fairy tale and Anderson has delivered a wonderfully stylish film.

The Silver Bear grand jury prize went to Mug by Małgorzata Szumowska, her story of a man losing his identity. In it, young construction worker Jacek undergoes a face transplant following a grisly accident working on a giant statue of Jesus.

When he returns to his provincial home town with an unrecognisable new face, the locals treat his strangeness with contempt. Style and content are perfectly matched in this elegant film. Acted with persuasive power, it has a strong feeling for an ordinary man faced with difficult circumstances who is rejected by society.

Ana Brun carried off a Silver Bear for her magnificent performance in Paraguayan director Marcello Martinessi’s The Heiresses.

She plays a middle-aged lesbian who slowly inches out of the shadows of her dissatisfaction when forced to navigate a life separated from her partner. Small, but perfectly formed, The Heiresses is visually accomplished, decently written and clearly capable of moving audiences.

Anthony Bajon won best actor for his role as a young former junkie in Cedric Kahn’s The Prayer, which centres on a remote home for recovering addicts run by a Catholic priest, while best screenplay went to Mexican directors Manuel Alcala and Alonso Ruizpalacios for Museum.

The film explores the troubled relationship that Mexicans have with their history in a tale about  two veterinary students robbing Mexico City’s renowned Anthropological Museum. It looks good and sounds good and — if you're in the mood —  it might make you feel good, too.

The prize for outstanding artistic contribution went to Elena Okopnaya for costume and production design in Dovlatov by Alexey German Jr, the story of a writer who remained unknown in his lifetime.

After his death in 1989 he became highly acclaimed in Russia and Dovlatov is a slow-burning and  pensive evocation of the period.

 

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