BERLIN -- Latin America was an impressive presence at this year's Berlin International Film Festival, winning the Golden Bear for the Peruvian film "The Milk of Sorrow" by Claudia Llosa, while the Uruguayan-Argentine effort "Gigante" took three awards, including the Jury Grand Prix.
The Berlin Film Festival, also called the Berlinale, gave top marks to the new Latin American cinema by awarding its first prize to Llosa, born in 1976 in Lima and now living in Barcelona, while Biniez, born in Buenos Aires in 1974 and living in Montevideo, won the award for best first work and the Alfred Bauer award.
Biniez shared the Jury Grand Prix with Germany's "Everyone Else" by Maren Ade, and also shared the Bauer, awarded in memory of the festival's founder, this time with veteran Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda for "Tatarak."
Llosa, moved to tears, dedicated her prize to Peru, while her leading actress Magaly Solier captivated the audience with a number she sang in Quechua, the indigenous Andean language spoken in 40 percent of the film, alternating with Spanish.
"The Milk of Sorrow," filmed chiefly in Lima's poorest slums, is the story of a girl who tries to provide a decent burial for her mother, raped like thousands of other women during the two decades of war and terrorism in Peru between 1980 and 2000.
"Gigante" takes place in Montevideo and represents a guard at a hypermarket, in love with one of the employees that he spies on through his multiple security cameras.
The Silver Bear for best actor went to Mali's Sotigui Kouyate for "London River" directed by Rachid Bouchareb, while chosen for best actress was the German Birgit Minichmayr for "Everyone Else."
The Silver Bear for best director was taken by Iran's Ashgar Farhadi for "About Elly."
Presiding over the Berlinale's international jury was Scottish actress Tilda Swinton and among its members was the Spanish director Isabel Coixet.
Outside of the official prizes, Latin American movies took two other awards from independent juries: the Teddy Award for a movie with gay content won by "Rabioso Sol, Rabioso Cielo" (Angry Sun, Angry Sky), and the prize from the International Confederation of Art and Experimental Films, for the Basque movie "Ander" by Roberto Caston.
The official part of the Berlin Film Festival closed with the awarding of prizes and the projection outside of the contest of "Eden is West" by Greek director Costa-Gavras.
The festival continues Sunday with the so-called Spectators' Day, reserved exclusively for the general public.
The Berlinale will thus continue its tradition as the festival that caters most to the man in the street of all those in the top international category.
In its 10 years in existence, 282 films have been shown in 1,238 sessions and a total of 270,000 tickets have been sold to the general public, which according to official figures amounts to a record number of visitors.