Posted by Larry Gleeson
Once again an illustrious International Jury will decide who will receive the Golden and Silver Bears at the Berlinale 2017. Eighteen films are vying in this year’s Competition for the Golden and the Silver Bears. The winners will be announced at the Berlinale Palast on February 18.
Director and screenwriter Paul Verhoeven will serve as Jury President. The other members of the International Jury are producer Dora Bouchoucha Fourati (Tunisia), artist Olafur Eliasson (Denmark), actress Maggie Gyllenhaal (USA), actress Julia Jentsch (Germany), actor and director Diego Luna (Mexico), and director and screenwriter Wang Quan’an (People’s Republic of China).
Paul Verhoeven, Jury President, Director, Screenwriter (The Netherlands)
The Dutch director and screenwriter Paul Verhoeven began his directing career in 1969 with the successful Dutch television series Floris. After his feature film debut Business is Business in 1971, came the erotic thriller Turkish Delight in 1973, a big hit in the Netherlands that also garnered a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1974 Academy Awards. Following his international breakthrough Soldier of Orange (1977) and The Fourth Man (1983), Paul Verhoeven moved to Hollywood to focus on an evolution of style in his work. Large productions featuring lots of action and special effects, like RoboCop (1987), and especially Total Recall (1990), were big box-office hits that revolutionised the science fiction film genre while maintaining credibility as auteur films. The provocative, erotic thriller Basic Instinct (1992), which was nominated for two Academy Awards, saw Paul Verhoeven return to themes prevalent in his Dutch works. In 1997 and 2000, he once again focused on science fiction with Starship Troopers and Hollow Man. After nearly 20 years in Hollywood, Paul Verhoeven returned to the Netherlands in 2006 to film Black Book (2006). Starting in 2007, he moved his attention to writing. In 2016 he returned to the screen with Elle, which not only won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture in the category Foreign Language, but also earned Isabelle Huppert the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama.
Dora Bouchoucha Fourati, Producer (Tunisia)
Tunisian producer Dora Bouchoucha Fourati is something of an institution in the film world. The English literature graduate started off as a teacher and translator of screenplays. In 1992, she launched the Carthage Film Festival “Projects’ Workshop” to assist Arabs and Africans in developing their scripts and the follow-up initiative “Takmil” to support post-production in 2014. In 1995, she founded her own production company Nomadis Images. The many fiction and documentary features, and short films she has produced and co-produced include: Raja Amari’s multiple award-winning Satin Rouge (2002), Barakat! (dir: Djamila Sahraoui, Berlinale Forum 2006), Raja Amari’s Buried Secrets (2009) and Foreign Body (Berlinale Forum 2017). She produced all of Mohamed Ben Attia’s short films and his full-length debut Hedi, which screened in the Berlinale Competition in 2016 and won the Best First Feature Award and Silver Bear for Best Actor (Majd Mastoura). Dora Bouchoucha also founded the screenwriting workshop SUD ECRITURE for Arab and African scripts in 1997 which has launched many award winning films to date. She was festival director of the Carthage Film Festival in 2008, 2010, and 2014. She was appointed president of the Fonds Sud Cinéma of the CNC in 2010; and president of the follow-up institution, Aide aux Cinemas du Monde, in 2014.
Olafur Eliasson, Artist (Iceland)
Born in Denmark of Icelandic parentage, Olafur Eliasson quickly garnered international attention after completing the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He participated in the Berlin Biennale in 1998 and the Venice Biennale in 2003, and his piece “The weather project”, which was installed in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, attracted over two million visitors. Today, with his sculptures, installations, paintings, photographs and films that often focus on physical phenomena in nature as well as climate change, he has become one of the world’s most important contemporary artists. Eliasson, who founded his studio in Berlin in 1995, has received countless awards. Besides being involved in art, he is the founder of a global sustainable energy project and social business called Little Sun, as well as the international architectural firm Studio Other Spaces. His latest artworks include a number of installations at the Palace of Versailles in 2016.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Actress (USA)
Celebrated American actress Maggie Gyllenhaal is one of the outstanding talents of her generation. After studying literature at Columbia University in New York and acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, she became known for her roles in Donnie Darko (dir: Richard Kelly, 2001) and in Spike Jonze’s Berlinale Competition entry Adaptation (2002). Her big breakthrough came when she played the lead in the film Secretary (dir: Steven Shainberg, 2002). For it she received her first Golden Globe nomination and won several awards, including an IFP/Gotham Award for Breakthrough Performance. She went on to star in, e.g., Mike Newell’s Mona Lisa Smile (2003), Marc Forster’s Stranger than Fiction (2006), Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center (2006), Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), Sam Mendes’s Away We Go (2009), and Roland Emmerich’s White House Down (2013). For her role in Scott Cooper’s Crazy Heart (2009) she was nominated for an Oscar. In 2014 she headlined the British TV series The Honourable Woman, for which she garnered a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy nomination. Gyllenhaal, who in recent years has performed on Broadway, is currently cast to star in The Deuce, a new HBO series that she is also producing.
Julia Jentsch, Actress (Germany)
After finishing her studies at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts, Julia Jentsch, who was born in Berlin, began her career on the stage. In 2002 “Theater heute” magazine rated her the best female debut of the year. Her breakthrough on the screen was in The Edukators (2004, dir: Hans Weingartner) and in Sophie Scholl – The Final Days (Berlinale Competition 2005), for which she won not only the Berlinale’s Silver Bear, but also both the German and European Film Awards. The film itself, which was directed by Marc Rothemund, was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Since then Julia Jentsch has starred in a number of works, including 33 Scenes from Life by Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska, Hannah Arendt by Margarethe von Trotta, and I Served the King of England by Jiří Menzel. With Effie Briest (Berlinale Special 2009, dir: Hermine Huntgeburth) and 24 Weeks (Berlinale Competition 2016; dir: Anne Zohra Berrached), Jentsch was again invited to the Berlinale. Most recently she performed in front of the camera in Hans-Christian Schmid’s mini-series Das Verschwinden, which will be released in 2017.
Diego Luna, Actor, Director (Mexico)
Diego Luna’s breakthrough role came with Alfonso Cuarón’s Y tu mamá también, for which he shared the Marcello Mastroianni Award with Gael García Bernal at the Venice Film Festival in 2001. His feature film acting credits include Frida (dir. Julie Taymor, 2002), The Terminal (dir: Steven Spielberg, 2004), Rudo y Cursi (dir: Carlos Cuarón, 2008), Milk (dir: Gus van Sant, Berlinale Panorama 2009), Contraband (dir: Baltasar Kormákur, 2012) and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (dir: Gareth Edwards, 2016). Next fall he will star in Flatliners (dir: Niels Arden Oplev). Luna’s directorial debut, titled Abel, premiered at the film festival in Cannes in 2010. This was followed by César Chávez (Berlinale Special 2014) and Mr. Pig, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016. He and Bernal co-founded “Ambulante” in 2005, a charity organization dedicated, among other things, to promoting documentary film. Luna is also a member of the board of the Washington Office on Latin America.
Wang Quan’an, Director, Screenwriter (People’s Republic of China)
The director and screenwriter trained first as an actor before he turned to filmmaking. After studying at the Beijing Film Academy, Wang Quan’an, who was born in Yan’an in Shaanxi province, presented his debut film Lunar Eclipse in 1999. It screened in the Berlinale’s Forum section in 2002 after making various award-winning appearances at festivals around the world. He was selected with Tuya’s Marriage for the Competition in 2007 and, as the third Chinese filmmaker in the festival’s history, won the Golden Bear. Three years later, Apart Together was chosen as the Berlinale’s opening film and went on to win the Silver Bear for Best Script, which Wang co-wrote with Jin Na. He returned to the Berlinale Competition in 2012 with White Deer Plain, an adaptation of the historical novel of the same name, where his director of photography, Lutz Reitemeier, won the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution.
(Source: Berlinale Press Office)