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The Conversation: Finale of the Berlinale 2018

The Conversation: Finale of the Berlinale 2018

In what constitutes a rather curious and unpredictable session of the Berlin International Film Festival, the 68th edition of the festival ended with some unique surprises. Many expected the Tom Tykwer led jury to dole out some awards to some of the noted German contenders (of which there were four), but eschewed some predicted acting prizes (Franz Rogowski was locked out for some esteemed work in both Transit and In the Aisles, while Marie Baumer of 3 Days in Quiberon gave a notable performance as Romy Schneider), while divisive output from both Christian Petzold and Philip Groning also went home emptyhanded. Instead, two female filmmakers walked off with the top two prizes, including the Golden Bear winning Touch Me Not from debuting Romanian director Adina Pintilie, and a Silver Bear for Malgorzata Szumowska’s Mug (which is the Polish auteur’s third stint in the Berlin competition, previously winning the Teddy for In the Name Of… and Best Director for Body in 2013 and 2015 respectively).

All in all, Berlinale 2018 was an excellent year for newcomers. Beyond Pintilie, both the acting prizes went to debuting/newer artists (Paraguya’s Ana Brun in her first role for The Heiresses) and rising star Anthony Bajon for Cedric Kahn’s The Prayer. While it was somewhat of a limited field for male stars, Brun beat out a number of contendors for Best Actress, including Marie Baumer, Isabelle Huppert (granted, for a mostly dismissed title from Benoit Jacquot, which much like the 1962 Losey original it precedes will most likely not be appreciated until years after it’s been forgotten and recuperated), Leonore Ekstrand of The Real Estate, and newcomer Andrea Berntzen from Erik Poppe’s incredibly controversial U: July 22. My own personal top ten favorites of the 2018 edition are as follows:

#10. Generation Wealth – Dir. Lauren Greenfield (US) * Preemed at Sundance
#9. Dovlatov – Dir. Aleksey German Jr. (Russia)
#8. U: July 22 – Dir. Erik Poppe (Norway)
#7. Lemonade – Dir. Iona Uricaru (Romania)
#6. My Brother’s Name is Robert and He is an Idiot – Dir. Philip Groning (Germany)
#5. The Real Estate – Dir. Mans Mansson & Axel Peteren (Sweden)
#4. The Heiresses – Dir. Marcelo Marinessi (Paraguay)
#3. Transit – Dir. Christian Petzold (Germany)
#2. Mug – Dir. Malgorzata Szumowska (Poland)
#1. Eva – Dir. Benoit Jacquot (France)

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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