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Who Gets to Choose the Winners?
by Birgit Schrumpf

An International Jury decides who is to take home the Golden Bear, the Silver Bear and the Alfred Bauer Prize for films screened in the Competition section of the Berlinale. “I am pleased that the wonderful Tilda Swinton will be our Jury President in 2009.” said Dieter Kosslick, director of the Berlinale. “Her commanding screen presence has made an indelible impression in contemporary, innovative filmmaking.”

The Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton (48) is one of the most prominent and versatile performers of her generation. She has become the most sought-after actress playing a wide range of roles, alternating with ease between small European low-budget films and big Hollywood productions. Therefore, she is best qualified as the head of the International Jury.

The way to stardom was not an easy one. Tilda Swinton born into one of the oldest Scottish Clans was brought up in a prestigious English public school, studied social science and literature at Cambridge University and started performing in theatre plays. Last year she founded, co-curated and produced a film festival in her hometown of Nairn, Scotland: “The Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams” is dedicated to the discovery and rediscovery of classic world cinema treasure.

The Jury for the Berlinale 2009 was made up of a further six members:

Spanish writer and director Isabel Coixet (46) has been a guest with her films at numerous international festivals, including four times at the Berlinale with Things I Never Told You, My Life Without Me, with the documentary Invisibles and in 2008 with the bestseller interpretation of Elegy.

Gaston Kaboré (57) from Burkina Faso is one of the most important people in his country’s film scene and combines the skills of screenwriter, director and producer. In 1997 he received the Pan-African-Film Festival Award for his historical drama Buud Yam. He has realized numerous documentary films and his feature film Wend Kuuni marked a breakthrough for African cinema in 1982. Kaboré founded the Image Film School in Ouagadougou in 2005, training new filmmakers in Burkina Faso.

Swedish best-selling author Henning Mankell (61) is best known for his Inspector Wallander mysteries which have been translated into 38 languages. He is also acclaimed as a writer of children’s books and plays. Mankell lives alternately in Sweden and Mosambique where he works as director of the “Teatro Avenida”.

Director Christoph Schlingensief (48) is a leading personality in Germany’s cultural scene and is renowned as film, theatre and opera director. He repeatedly challenges his audience, often provoking public debates. As a filmmaker he first became known between 1989 and 1992 with his German Trilogy (including The German Chainsaw Massacre). His opera productions include “Parsifal” (Bayreuth 2004), “The Flying Dutchman” (Manaus 2007) and “Jeanne d’Arc” (Berlin 2008)

Hong-Kong-born director Wayne Wang (60) has lived and worked in the USA since his youth. In many of his films he confronts American society with the world of Chinese immigrants, as in the bestseller adaptation The Joy Luck Club. His arthouse film Smoke (Silver Bear Berlinale 1995) brought him major success in Europe as well.

The American food activist, star chef and author Alice Waters (64) is vice president of Slow Food International and works in the renowned Pacific Film Archive in Berkley as well as for various film festivals. She has also collaborated on projects such as the documentary Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. The multiple award-winning gastronomy expert recently joined the California Hall of Fame.