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Sunday, 18 February, 2001, 19:22 GMT
Intimacy wins in Berlin
Scene from Patrice Chereau's Intimacy with Kerry Fox and Mark Rylance
Kerry Fox (with Mark Rylance) also won best actress
Intimacy, the film adaptation of Hanif Kureishi book that sparked controversy with its explicit and extended sex scenes, has won the Berlin Film Festival's prestigious Golden Bear award.

Kerry Fox, the taciturn lover who becomes the object of obsession for the central character, played by Mark Rylance, was also given the award for best actress.

Patrice Chereau, who also directed La Reine Margot and Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train, defended his film after it was shown in the festival, saying Intimacy was film more about emotion than sex.

Patrice Chereau with Intimacy's other star Marianne Faithfull
Chereau appeared in Berlin with Intimacy's other star Marianne Faithfull
"Just because 35 minutes of this film is about intimacy it should not be reduced to a film about sex," Chereau said after the screening on Wednesday.

The nine-member international jury, headed by former Fox Filmed Entertainment chief Bill Mechanic, largely overlooked Hollywood's offerings.

The Silver Bear runner-up awards went to Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai's Beijing Bicycle and to Lone Scherfig's Italian for Beginners, from Denmark's minimalist Dogma school.

Intimacy should not be reduced to a film about sex

Director Patrice Chereau
The critics' favourite to win a Golden Bear, Steven Soderbergh's Traffic, only received the best actor award - for Benicio del Toro, who played the weary Tijuana police officer in the Michael Douglas feature.

Other US entries, Gus van Sant's Finding Forrester, Spike Lee's Bamboozled and Mike Nichols' Wit, failed to pick up any accolades.

Kureishi, who also wrote The Buddha of Suburbia and the screenplays for Sammy and Rosie Get Laid and My Beautiful Laundrette, has been criticised for the supposedly autobiographical content of his book.

Chereau is anxious that audiences look beyond the sexual content of the film and see it as an examination of human nature.

The movie, which also stars Marianne Faithfull, beat off the challenges of a strong European field including Lasse Hallstrom's Oscar nominated Chocolat.

Rising star Cui Lin in Beijing Bicycle
Rising star Cui Lin in Beijing Bicycle
The award for best individual contribution went to Spain, with cinematographer Raul Perez Cubero winning for his black-and-white wide-screen filming in You're the One.

The only South American entry among the 23 films in competition - La Cienaga (The Swamp), which is the first feature from Argentine director Lucrecia Martel - took the award for best film debut.

Taiwan's Lin Cheng-Sheng was named best director for Betelnut Beauty, and Angelica Lee Sinje was judged best young actress in a first major role for the film.

Best young actors were Cui Lin and Li Bin for their parts in Beijing Bicycle.

See also:

07 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Berlin film festival opens
15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Director defends Intimacy
14 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Censors relax film guidelines
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