Brazilian cop drama wins Berlinale

Violent Brazilian cop drama “Tropa De Elite” won the Golden Bear at the 58th International Berlin Film Festival. The UK’s Sally Hawkins took home the Silver Bear for best actress for her role in Mike Leigh’s latest movie “Happy-Go-Lucky” and US filmmaker Paul Thomas Anders was awarded a Silver Bear for best direction.

The Berlinale’s jury, led this year by Greek director Constantin Costa-Gavras, awarded Brazilian director José Padilha the top prize on Saturday night for his film about an elite urban warfare Brazilian police unit. “Tropa De Elite” (The Elite Squad) shows the corrupt police using brutal methods to fight the drug mafia in Rio de Janeiro.

“The critics were partly very much against us, that is true. But we have won the prize,” said Padhila, while explaining that the film depicts everyday reality in Brazil.

The award for best actress went to Sally Hawkins from the UK for her role in Mike Leigh’s crowd-pleasing comedy “Happy-Go-Lucky”. Hawkins plays a 30-year-old Londoner who is always in a good mood no matter what adversities life throws her way.

Iranian actor Reza Naji won the best actor Silver Bear award for his portrayal of an unemployed father in the film “The Song for Sparrows”. The film directed by Majid Majidi is meant to show the reality of life in rural Iran.

The Americans were well represented in the award winners with “There Will Be Blood” garnering the Silver Bear for best director and the prize for best music. Staring Daniel Day-Lewis and inspired by Upton Sinclair’s book Oil, the film explores the quest for power in southern California’s oil boom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“If I also win all the Oscars, I will get a heart attack,” said director Paul Thomas Anderson, alluding to the eight Academy Award nominations for “There Will Be Blood”.

The American documentary “Standard Operating Procedure” won the Grand Jury Silver Bear. The film, directed by Errol Morris, examines human rights violations at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The Silver Bear for the best screenplay went to Chinese director Wang Xiaoschuai for the drama “In Love We Trust”, a film about a mother and her child who has cancer.

“Making a film in China is hard for independent filmmakers. This prize helps us a lot,” said Wang Xiaoschuai.

This is the second time in the Berlinale’s near 60-year history that the Golden Bear went to a Latin American filmmaker. Ten years ago, Brazilian director Walter Salles won the prestigious prize for “Central Station”. In Brazil, around 2.5 million people have already seen “Tropa De Elite” in theatres and it is believed that 12 million people have watched the film on illegally pirated DVDs.