(Berlin.) And that’s it, Berlinale 2019 is history, the 69th overall and the 19th, and last ever, directed by Diether Kosslick.
The grand jury this time was headed by French actress Juliette Binoche, and further comprised Justin Chang (LA Times film critic), Sandra Hüller (German actress, known e.g. from last year’s excellent competitor In the Aisles), Sebastián Lelio (Chilean director), Rajenda Roy (head film curator at MOMA – so that’s why Agnès Varda made it here?!), and Sting’s wife Trudie Styler (she’s a little bit known for producing, directing and even acting).
The jury’s decisions are surprisingly reasonable, for most parts at least. (I’ve been watching a live stream of the gala in a cinema, with a press badge-only audience. When the Silver Bear for Best Director got announced, there was no applause, there was a lot of booing, and there was hysterically laughing – that was I.)
Then, there is this special Berlinale type of schizophrenia. Just like there are films “in competition (out of competition)” – including several about which you might have read on here –, there's also a “Silver Bear - Grand Prize of the Jury” which is NOT the “Golden Bear for Best Film” (awarded by the same jury). Both times, they basically say: “you’re at least as good as the other(s), but we won’t give you a (real) award. Ha-Ha!” It makes no sense at all.
In case, you're interested in another small insight: As a journalist – ok, make that “somebody with a press badge” – you live in constant fear of involuntarily breaching the so-called “Embargo Rules” (either that, or just don’t give a f--). Those rules specify, how “thou shalt not say any word about a press-previewed film before its first ‘public screening’ (‘public’ = ‘festival’)”. The trouble lies in finding out, when that “first public screening” takes place exactly. I was never sure, whether what I did was “legal” according to house rules. ... And on the other hand: Thanks to “Petrunya”, we've learned, that rules are neglectable.
You probably don’t need to understand, nor like it, why a German federal politician takes the stage on the gala evening of a film festival (or any art and culture event for that matter) for the night's longest discourse (mostly praising Mr Kosslick, but still). With Berlinale wanting to be “the most political of all Film Festivals”, it’s probably just logical.
Golden Bear for the Best Film (awarded to the Producers)
Silver Bear Grand Prize of the Jury
Grâce à Dieu (By the Grace of God)
Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize for a film opening new Perspectives
Systemsprenger (System Crasher)
Silver Bear for Best Director
Angela Schanelec for Ich War Zuhause, Aber (I Was At Home, Butt)
Silver Bear for Best Actress
Yong Mei in Di Jiu Tian Chang (So Long, My Son)
Silver Bear for Best Actor
Wang Jiungchun in Di Jiu Tian Chang (So Long, My Son)
Silver Bear for the Best Script
Maurizio Braucci, Claudio Giovannesi, and Roberto Saviano for La Paranza dei Bambini (Piranhas)
Silver Bear for An Outstanding Artistic Contribution
Rasmus Videbæk for the cinematography of Ut Og Stjæle Hester (Out, Stealing Horses)
If they had known the folkloristic dresses those Mongols donned for the night beforehand, the jury probably would have given them an award, some award, any, just to get them on stage (Outstanding Artistic Contribution in Cinematography for example). It’s mean, but once again saying aloud what many might have thought: It would have been awkward, had that Silver Bear for a Film Opening New Perspectives (this name’s almost as long as it is meaningless) been presented by Lelio - That little system crasher is almost as tall as he is! And finally, the (fictional) meta-award for the most enthusiastic award-reception in a minor category could only go to the makers of UMBRA (Best Short Film, awarded by one of Berlinale’s countless other juries); I haven’t seen it but it seems to be an abstract film experiment that could easily be shown in every other contemporary art gallery.