Turkish film wins in Berlin, Polanski honored

Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:29pm EST
 
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By Mike Collett-White and Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) - Turkish drama "Honey" was the surprise winner of the Golden Bear for best picture at the Berlin film festival on Saturday, and Roman Polanski, fighting extradition to the United States, claimed the director prize.

Honey ("Bal") is the final installment of director Semih Kaplanoglu's trilogy which began with "Milk" and "Egg."

Critics praised the powerful simplicity of the tale about six-year-old Yusuf, who wanders into the woods to find his beloved beekeper father when he goes missing.

The moving father-son drama is shot in lush mountain forests and has no soundtrack, and Bora Altas' performance as Yusuf was singled out.

"The central performance is touching, truthful and overpoweringly charming, one of those classic screen turns by a child, up there with The Kid and The Red Balloon," wrote Nigel Andrews of the Financial Times.

Altas, 8, stole the show at a press conference for the movie, barely able to see over the top of the rostrum and clutching a teddy bear.

While popular among audiences, the choice of Honey came as a surprise, with several other competition entries considered more likely to take the top honor at the 60th Berlinale.

Among them was Polanski's political thriller "The Ghost Writer," which he completed while in jail and under house arrest.   Continued...

 
<p>(L-R) Producer Johannes Rexin and Bettina Brokemper, actor Erdal Besikcioglu, director Hasan Semih Kaplanoglu, actor Bora Altas and actress Tuelin Oezen pose during a photocall to promote the movie "Bal" (Honey) at the Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 16, 2010. REUTERS/Christian Charisius</p>