Asian films win big as Chinese thriller takes top Berlin prize

Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:10pm EST
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By Michael Roddy and Alexandra Hudson

BERLIN (Reuters) - Asian films were big winners at the Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday, led by gritty Chinese thriller "Bai Ri Yan Huo" (Black Coal, Thin Ice) about an overweight detective pursuing a serial killer which took the top Golden Bear prize.

Liao Fan, who said he put on 20 kg (44 lb) and drank more alcohol to play the role of detective Zhang Zili, was named Best Actor.

"Chinese films are accepted more and more," Diao Yinan, director of the winning film, told reporters.

"It seems every time we take them abroad, there is a greater enthusiasm for Chinese cinema. We hadn't expected that, but film is global nowadays."

Asked about censorship in China, Diao said: "Of course there is censorship, I believe that exists around the whole world, doesn't it? When it comes to Chinese censorship, I think the fact we are here in Berlin shows our censors are becoming more open, although there are difficulties."

Haru Kuroki, who won Best Actress for her portrayal of a housemaid in Tokyo before and during World War Two in the Japanese film "Chiisai Ouchi" (The Little House), said she wanted to leap for joy but wearing a kimono made it difficult.

American Richard Linklater was named Best Director for his coming-of-age film "Boyhood", which uses the same child actors over a 12-year span, while Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel", the festival opener set in a fictional central European country, took the Silver Bear grand jury prize.

Asked if he was disappointed, Linklater, whose film was popular with Berlin audiences, said: "With this, film making, you are working for yourself to realize your own visions, you are not thinking about prizes."   Continued...

Diao Yinan (R) director of "Bai Ri Yan Huo" (Black Coal, Thin Ice) poses with his Golden Bear for Best Film next to actor Liao Fan (L) who poses with his Silver Bear for Best Actor during a news conference after the awards ceremony of the 64th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Peter