Berlinale ends on a high note

Tears, singing and a monologue mark awards presentation

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BERLIN -- It started with a scream and ended with a song. In between, the presentation of the Gold and Silver Bears for the 59th Berlin International Film Festival offered something almost unheard of -- a truly entertaining awards ceremony.

"Aaaah!" screamed Argentinean director Adrian Biniez after receiving his first Silver Bear, obviously overwhelmed and at a loss for words. "It's amazing, fantastico!" was all he managed to say.

When he won the Jury Prize later in the night, he just shook his head. "I wish my mommy was here. I have no more words," Biniez said.

Hoisting her own Jury Grand Prize Silver Bear, German director Maren Ade welled up.

"Thank you, thank you. I'm very happy. Even if I don't look it," said the diminutive filmmaker, leaving the stage before the tears rolled.

Also caught up in the spirit of the moment was Golden Bear winner Claudia Llosa who, when she didn't know what else to say, just broke into song.

But it was "London River" star Sotigui Kouyate's acceptance speech for his best actor Silver Bear that brought down the house.

Instead of standing at the podium, Kouyate squatted on the edge of the stage and began a 15-minute monologue that, if he had tried it at the Oscars, would have driven the Academy orchestra around the bend.

After first briefly thanking director Rachid Bouchareb and the Berlinale, Kouyate began to tell three stories, jokes really, about Westerners, Africans and old people. Taking his time, rolling off the jokes in his melodic French, Kouyate broke all the rules of a live awards broadcast. He forced the audience to slow down and just listen -- a feat almost as impressive as his award-winning performance in Bouchareb's film.
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