'Elite' bags Golden Bear at 58th Berlin Film festival

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Washington, Feb 18 : Jose Padilha's 'Tropa de Elite' ('The Elite Squad') grabbed this year's Golden Bear for best film at the 58th Berlin International Film Festival.

'The Elite Squad,' a story of police corruption and gang violence in the Brazilian slums, emerged the winner of the prestigious award and has beaten the critically acclaimed 'There Will Be Blood' from Paul Thomas Anderson, which tucked under two Silver Bears: best director for Anderson and best sound for 'Blood' composer Jonny Greenwood's experimental electronic soundtrack.

Errol Morris' documentary on torture in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, 'Standard Operating Procedure,' won the Grand Jury Silver Bear. Sally Hawkins won the best actress prize for her jovial and electriying performance in Mike Leigh's 'Happy-Go-Lucky'. Iran's Reza Najie won the best actor Silver Bear playing a man struggling to earn his daily bread in Majid Majidi's 'The Song of Sparrows'. However, the show stealer was 'The Elite Squad', an action-packed drama that follows a group of elite, police shock troops as they fight all-powerful drug lords while also battling rampant corruption within their own ranks.

'The Elite Squad' which will be distributed in the states by The Weinstein Co., has already become a phenomenon in its home country, with more than 11.5 million people seeing it on pirated DVDs. This is the first film from the new Latin American Film fund, set up by The Weinstein Co. and producer Eduardo Constantini.

"We are so pleased for Jose Padilha and everyone involved in 'Tropa de Elite' ('The Elite Squad'), and we are grateful to the Berlin Film Festival for embracing the Film. This award and the critical acclaim it has received will certainly jumpstart the worldwide release of the film and we, along with Eduardo Costantini, Costa Films and The Latin American Film Co., look forward to providing it with a strong voice in the months to come," Hollywood Reporter quoted Glen Basner, TWC president of international distribution, as saying.

"This award (the Golden Bear) is for everybody who worked on this film and also for the Brazilian audience who elected this movie with their underground movement to watch it and pass it on. They are sending a clear message that they want the police corruption to stop. They want the violence to stop. This film won't do that but I have hope they people in Brazil will do it," told Padilha.

He described his film as "extremely political," and said that it was a particular honour to receive the Berlinale Golden Bear from this year's Berlin Jury president, political filmmaker Constantin Costa-Gavras.

"For any South American filmmaker, Costa-Gavras is a hero. Even though he is not from South America himself, he made films about South America that were very important to anyone living there," said Padilha.

Berlin's Best First film prize went to Japanese director Kumasaka Izuru for 'Asyl -- Park and Love Hotel' while the Alfred Bauer prize, named after the Berlinale's founding director, was awarded to Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke for 'Lake Tahoe'.

ANI

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