Berlin Int. Film Festival: Inner Mongolian herdswomen play themselves in top film Tuya's Marriage Print E-mail

  February 18, 2007


'Tuya's Marriage' Wins Golden Bear for Best Film

Scroll down to read:  Only one professional actor in Chinese movie

The 57th Berlin International Film Festival concluded with the award of the Golden and Silver Bears on Saturday evening. The top prize, the Golden Bear for Best Film, went to the film "Tuya's Marriage" ("Tu Ya De Hun Shi") by Chinese director Wang Quan'an.

The Berlinale's coveted Golden and Silver Bears were awarded in Berlin on Saturday evening. The top prize for best film went to the Chinese movie "Tuya's Marriage."

The Berlin International Film Festival's coveted Golden and Silver Bear awards were presented Saturday in a ceremony in Berlin. The top prize, the Golden Bear for Best Film, went to the film "Tuya's Marriage" ("Tu Ya De Hun Shi") by Chinese director Wang Quan'an.

"A very beautiful dream has become reality for me here," director Wang said after receiving the award on Saturday evening.

The winning film deals with a herdswoman in Inner Mongolia forced to look for a new husband who can take care of her and her disabled ex-husband.

The film, which observers felt was something of a surprise choice for the Golden Bear, reflects social changes in modern China. "I think that is important, particularly in this time when the economy is booming, to ponder and reflect on what we're losing," Wang commented. "Once we've lost (our culture and traditions), we'll never be able to get them back."

The prizes were awarded by a seven-member jury led by the respected American director and screenwriter Paul Schrader. The jury also featured cult American actor Willem Dafoe and the Mexican heartthrob actor Gael García Bernal. Twenty-two films were in competition for the Golden and Silver Bears. Last year's Golden Bear went to the challenging "Grbavica" by the Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic about the systematic rape of Bosnian women by Serbian soldiers during the 1990s Yugoslav wars.

The Silver Bear for the Jury Grand Prix went to Ariel Rotter's "El Otro" ("The Other"). The film also picked up the Silver Bear for best actor, which went to Julio Chavez for his performance as a businessman who takes on a dead man's identity and discovers a new life.

The prize for best director went to American-born Israeli director Joseph Cedar for his film "Beaufort," which tells the story of Israeli soldiers guarding a military outpost in southern Lebanon before Israel's withdrawal in 2000. "It seems pretty obvious that we're against war," Cedar said. "Hopefully there's something in my film that gives insight into a more specific nature of how absurd combat is."

The best actress award went to the German actress Nina Hoss who starred in Christian Petzold's "Yella," one of only two German films in competition. Hoss plays the movie's eponymous heroine, an East German woman who moves to west Germany to seek a new life but is haunted by her past.

The silver bear for outstanding artistic contribution went to the cast of Robert De Niro's "The Good Shepherd," which deals with the early history of the CIA. It was the only American entry to win a prize: Steven Soderbergh's "The Good German," came away empty-handed, as did Gregory Nava's "Bordertown," which was booed at its premiere this week.

Scottish director David Mackenzie won the best film music award for the use of music in his film "Hallam Foe." The Alfred Bauer Prize, awarded in memory of the festival's founder and given to a particularly innovative film, went to the Korean film "I'm a Cyborg, But That's Ok," ("Sai bo gu ji man gwen chan a") by Park Chan-wook. An honorary Golden Bear also went to American director Arthur Penn, best known for his 1967 film "Bonnie and Clyde," in recognition of his outstanding film career.

The festival also featured several other awards as well as the Golden and Silver Bears. The Peace Film Award went to Bille August's "Goodbye Bafana," which tells the story of the relationship between Nelson Mandela and his warder James Gregory. The Teddy Awards for the best gay-themed films of the festival were given out on Friday night, with the prize for best feature film going to "Ci-Qing" ("Spider Lilies") by Zero Chou.

Sunday is the last day of the 2007 Berlinale, now in its 57th year. The festival's closing day is known as "Cinema Day," when moviegoers can see films at a special reduced price. Around 400 films were shown in the 11-day movie extravaganza, which organizers said had been atttended by around 430,000 movie buffs.


Tu ya de hun shi (Tuya's Marriage)


People's Republic of China, 2006, 96 min
Director: Wang Quan'an
Cast: Yu Nan, Ba Te Er, Sen Ge

In the Chinese production, Tu ya de hun shi (Tuya’s marriage), director Wang Quan’an (The Story of Er Mei) tells the story of a woman’s efforts to find a new husband who can take care of both her and her sick ex-husband. The title role is played by Yu Nan. (World Premiere)

 London -- Monday February 19, 2007

Inner Mongolian herdswomen beat Jolie and Damon to top film prize in Berlin

Yu Nan, playing the lead role in Tuya's Marriage, which looks at the impact of China's boom on centuries of tradition

· Only one professional actor in Chinese movie
· British black comedy misses out on awards

Kate Connolly in Berlin

A Chinese arthouse film about the impact of economic growth on the country's rural community unexpectedly won the top award at the Berlin film festival at the weekend, beating several Hollywood rivals and big budget productions to capture the Golden Bear.

Tuya's Marriage, directed by Wang Quan'an, paints a touching portrait of a female Mongolian herder who attempts to resist the economic pressures to move from the barren plains of her homeland in northern China to the city.

The only professional actor in the film is Yu Nan, who played Tuya. The other parts were played by real herdsmen and women.

The film tells the story of Tuya and her disabled husband, Bater, who decide to divorce after she falls ill so that she can go in search of a new husband capable of looking after the whole family.

She is persuaded to move from her pastures in Inner Mongolia to the city but subsequently is forced to decide whether to choose love over the survival of her own family.

Wang said that the film was an attempt to explore the massive environmental, cultural and social effects of China's rapid economic growth on ordinary people in Inner Mongolia, where the way of life has remained the same for centuries.

"I think that it is important, particularly in this time when the economy is booming, to ponder and reflect on what we're losing," he said. "Once the culture and tradition are lost, we'll never be able to get them back."

He added: "Perhaps this is the last glance at the herdspeople of the region. Ultimately they are going to disappear into the cities."

Critics drew parallels with Chinese director Jia Zhangke's Still Life, which won the Golden Lion in Venice last year and told of the ruin caused by the Three Gorges dam project. Wang said that although he hoped Tuya's Marriage would remind Chinese audiences about problems in rural China of which they had little or no idea, it was unlikely it would attract a big audience in his homeland where blockbuster movies prove a much greater pull.

Tuya was one of two Chinese feature films in competition at the 57th Berlin festival this year. The other, Lost in Beijing, painted a portrait of the pressures of modern life on people in urban China. Its female director, Li Yu, faces possible serious admonishment by Chinese state censors after an uncensored version of the sometimes sexually explicit film was screened in Berlin.

Tuya's Marriage beat 21 other competition entries to the prize, including Robert de Niro's much-hailed Hollywood CIA drama The Good Shepherd, starring Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, and Steven Soderbergh's The Good German starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett, a black and white drama set in post-war Berlin.

Surprisingly, one of the audience favourites, the British black comedy Irina Palm, starring the singer Marianne Faithfull as a grandmother who becomes a sex worker to pay for her dying grandson's medical treatment, came away empty-handed from Berlin.