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Bear chasers

Bear chasers


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

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 Quinceanera (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."

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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Lawrence Ferber