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Canadian Film “Rebelle” Honoured with Silver Bear at Berlinale

Rachel Mwanza accepts her award
Photo credit: Alexander Janetzko @ Berlinale 2012

Rachel Mwanza accepts her award from International Jury member Jake Gyllenhaal
Photo credit: Andreas Teich @ Berlinale 2012
A group of sitting people
Canadian talent at Berlinale 2012. Photo credit: Trevor Good

The Silver Bear was the crowning glory of an exciting year for Canada at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), which saw a Canadian film in the Official Competition for the first time in 13 years.

Two Canadian productions received awards at this year’s Berlinale. Rachel Mwanza, star of Montréal director Kim Nguyen’s Rebelle, was awarded the Silver Bear for best actress, a major prize of the Festival. Rebelle also received a special mention from the Ecumenical Jury, one of the most important alternative juries at Berlinale. A Short Film Prize was awarded to Canadian director Trevor Anderson for his film The Man that Got Away.

As luck would have it, both films had been presented at the Canadian Embassy earlier during the week.

The Embassy hosted several events throughout the festival, making it a Berlinale hot spot and earning it the distinction as the only embassy to be designated as an official festival location. As part of the Berlinale Forum expanded program, the Canadian Embassy presented a new film installation by famous Canadian video artist Steve Reinke, and hosted a screening of short films and an artist talk.

Once again, the annual “Canada in Berlin” reception (co-hosted by the Embassy and Telefilm) filled the Embassy’s public spaces to capacity. Among the other events held at the Embassy were an advance press screening of Rebelle, a session for Canadian media to meet the Canadian talent present at the festival, a training seminar for upcoming Canadian film talent, an event for international film festival directors, and a promotion of Nova Scotia as a filming location.

With a total of 11 entries, including one competing for the Golden Bear, Canada was well-represented again at this year’s Berlinale, which took place in mid-February. The entries reflected the vibrant range of Canadian filmmaking, with a strong presence in several competition categories.

The Berlinale continues to be an important forum for film marketing and talent development in the industry. With the support of the Embassy as well as other Canadian government partners —such as the Canada Council, provincial film agencies and Telefilm— many of the Canadian film teams were present and able to promote their films personally.

As for Rachel Mwanza, the Silver Bear is a particular honour for the talented young actress, who hails originally from the Congo. In Rebelle, 15-year-old Mwanza plays a girl who is abducted from her home and forced to become a child soldier. The film has received high praise from such news outlets as Variety and Hollywood Reporter— and now the Berlinale’s Official Competition jury has joined the ranks of those praising this challenging Canadian film.

Learn more about what Canada is doing to help child soldiers around the world.

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