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Archive for Sunday, February 15, 2004

Turkish film takes top honors at Berlin festival

February 15, 2004

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— The story of a young Turkish-German woman who marries a man she doesn't love to escape her conservative Islamic family won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday.

Directed by Fatih Akin -- a German of Turkish parents -- "Gegen die Wand" ("Head On") chronicles the life of Sibel, played by Sibel Kekilla, who marries a beer-guzzling, middle-aged Turkish-German punk.

Another tale of a child from an immigrant family, Daniel Burman's "El abrazo partido" ("Lost Embrace") won the runner-up Silver Bear film award.

The film follows Ariel, a young Argentinian Jew, whose attempts to gain a Polish passport through his grandmother's original citizenship lead him to explore his father's decision to fight for Israel.

The best actor award went to the film's star, Daniel Hendler.

Best directing honors went to South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk for "Samaria" ("Samaritan Girl"), the tragic account of a teenage girl's sexual exploitation.

For the second year in a row, the jury recognized more than one actress for leading performance, granting Silver Bears to both Charlize Theron, for her role in "Monster," and Catalina Sandino Moreno for "Maria, llena eres de gracia" ("Maria Full of Grace").

Theron, who also is up for an Oscar for the part, went through a remarkable transformation in 'Monster,' putting on 30 pounds and wearing false teeth to portray Florida serial killer Aileen Wuornos. But Theron said it was her research into the executed killer's life that provided the foundation for her performance.

"If you do those things without any kind of core it becomes meaningless," Theron told reporters after the film screened at the festival. "Everything about her physically was a mirror or a map to what she had gone through emotionally."

The episodic, day-in-the-life film "Om Jag Vaender Mig Om" ("Daybreak") from Swedish director Bjoern Runge received the Blue Angel award for the best European film.

The prizes were announced by the head of the festival's seven-member jury, American actress Frances McDormand, and her fellow juror German producer Peter Rommel.

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