Festival buddies Filmbrain, D-Kaz, and I were watching the New German Film documentary Gegenschuss on Alexanderplatz while the winners of the 58th Berlinale were announced at the Palast. Still buzzing on Fassbinder, Herzog, and Wenders, we were nothing less than horrified to find out that the 2008 Golden Bear had gone to a movie all three of us reviled: Jose Padilha's Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite), a poorly told thriller from the favelas of Rio that asks the audience to sympathize with fascist thugs who torture suspects, beat up protesters, and shotgun people in the face. From where I'm sitting over a Hefeweizen, the Berlinale's top award couldn't have gone to a worse film.
Perhaps to counteract the winner's noxious politics, the jury -- led by Costa-Gavras and including Diane Kruger, Walter Murch, and Shu Qi -- awarded its Grand Prix to Errol Morris' Abu Ghraib documentary Standard Operating Procedure. Personal favorite There Will Be Blood took two Silver Bears, for director Paul Thomas Anderson and Outstanding Aritstic Contribution (Music) for the score by Jonny Greenwood. Best Actor went to Reza Najie in Maji Majidi's Avaze Gonjeshk-ha and Best Actress to Sally Hawkins in Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky. The decidedly underwhelming In Love We Trust was awarded the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay.The official Berlinale site has a complete list of awards. More links and commentary from GreenCine Daily's David Hudson. Stay tuned for my festival wrap-up. [posted by Jurgen]