Peruvian film "The Milk of Sorrow" wins in Berlin

Sun Feb 15, 2009 1:35am EST
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By Mike Collett-White and Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - Mournful Peruvian entry "The Milk of Sorrow" (La Teta Asustada) won the coveted Golden Bear award for best picture at the Berlin film festival on Saturday.

The first Peruvian film in competition at the annual cinema showcase, the story revolves around Fausta, the product of a rape inflicted on her mother during two decades of rebel violence in which around 70,000 people died or disappeared.

After her mother's death, the virtually silent Fausta (played by Magaly Solier) is determined to bury her in her native village but in order to do so must confront the malaise that afflicts her like a sickness.

The title is based on the idea that Fausta's mother passes sorrow on to her daughter through breast milk.

"This is for Peru. This is for our country," director Claudia Llosa told the awards ceremony. "I hope more women will be encouraged by this," she added at a press conference. "We need more women directors, actors, we need more women in films."

Although the slow-paced picture was not among the favorites to scoop the main award from 18 films in competition, it is likely to be a popular winner.

It includes the premise that Fausta has inserted a potato inside herself to prevent her from being raped like her mother, and haunting songs add to the magical realist feel.

The backdrop of violence in Peru in the 1980s and 1990s is omnipresent despite never being portrayed.   Continued...

<p>Actress and Jury President Tilda Swinton (L) presents the Golden Bear award for Best Film to director Claudia Llosa during the awards ceremony at the 59th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 14, 2009. REUTERS/Johannes Eisele</p>