Tuya's Marriage, a Chinese film about a woman and her life in the steppes of Inner Mongolia, has won the Berlin Film festival's top honour, the Golden Bear.
Accepting the award, director Wang Quan'an said he could not imagine a better gift for Chinese New Year.
US-born Israeli Joseph Cedar took best director for his war drama Beaufort.
The prize for best actor went to Argentina's Julio Chavez in The Other, while Nina Hoss of Germany scooped best actress for her role in Yella.
The Other won the Jury Grand Prix award, effectively the runner-up in the best film category, as well.
There was also recognition for The Good Shepherd, American director Robert De Niro's drama on the origins of the CIA intelligence service.
It won the category of outstanding artistic contribution.
Hoss said she had not expected to beat rivals such as Cate Blanchett
Scottish director David Mackenzie collected the best music award for Hallam Foe, which starred Billy Elliot actor Jamie Bell.
And South Korean director Park Chan-wook was honoured for his innovation in his comedy I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK.
The awards were announced on Saturday evening as the 11-day festival neared its conclusion.
"A very beautiful dream has become reality for me here," Mr Wang said after receiving the Golden Bear statuette.
"Perhaps this is the last glance at the herds people of the region," he said of his film.
"Ultimately they are going to disappear into the cities," he said.
The Good Shepherd tells how the CIA intelligence service began
"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 that the best films were not those which solved problems or gave answers, but those which simply showed life "authentically".
Correspondents said the choice of Tuya's Marriage as best film came as a mild surprise to the assembled critics and journalists.
More than 370 films were shown at the Berlinale, which ranks alongside Venice and Cannes as a leading European film festival.