Bear chasers

A mixed bag of queer films pursued the prestigious Teddy Awards at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival

BY Lawrence Ferber

March 08 2006 12:00 AM ET

Every February,
gay filmmakers head to the Berlin International Film
Festival with hopes of bringing home a bear: A Golden Bear,
the festival’s biggest prize, or the Teddy, its
specifically gay-themed film honor. The
festival’s 56th edition was pretty rewarding for
gay-themed work and individuals. Ian McKellen stopped
by to pick up an honorary Golden Bear for Lifetime
Achievement and credited “coming out” as his
grandest achievement. Denmark’s A Soap, which
follows the strained relationship between a depressed
transsexual and her emotionally crippled upstairs
neighbor, snagged both a Jury Grand Prize (the Silver Bear)
and Best First Feature Award. “My film is a
clash between a soap opera and a movie,”
director Pernille Fischer Christensen told The
Advocate.
“A subversion…a
soapversion.”

Paper Dolls, Tomer Heymann’s touching
documentary about a clan of Filipino transsexuals and
drag queens working as caretakers for elderly
Israelis, nabbed several awards, including the Panorama
Public Film Prize and gay Siegessaule
Reader’s Award. Screening in the children’s
section of the festival, The Blossoming of Maximo
Oliveros,
a Filipino dramedy about a
gender-bending preteen in love with a policeman, won
two Children’s Jury honors. It also nabbed Best
Feature at the Teddy Awards. Celebrating their 20th
anniversary this year, the Teddy Awards saw many past
winners—including Rose Troche (Go Fish), Sandi
DuBowski (Trembling Before G-d), and Jacques
Martineau and Olivier Ducastel (The Adventures of
Felix
)—reunite at their big ceremony and
party. Other Teddy winners included Best Documentary
Beyond Hatred, which soberly chronicles the
aftermath of a gay man’s murder, and Jury Award
recipient Combat, an experimental piece in which
two men grapple in the woods.

Additional
festival buzz titles included Sundance prize-winner
Quinceañera (also shown in the clearly
progressive children’s section!); Japanese cult
director Takashi Miike’s superstylized tale of
prison lust and death, Big Bang Love; and Absolute
Wilson,
a loving and stunning documentary about
avant-garde theater icon Robert Wilson.

Yet not all queer
films garnered kudos. During the premiere Q&A for
Container, director Lukas Moodysson’s
experimental venture into the rambling subconscious of
a cuckoo transsexual, an audience member found this
depiction “objectionable.” “I make
movies, I really shouldn’t explain my
films,” Moodysson responded to the complaint.
“But I understand your opinion, and I respect
it.”

Tags: film

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