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Honours even for Hours stars

Berlin, Feb. 15 (Reuters): The British film In this World about two Afghan refugees won the top award at the Berlin Film Festival today and Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman of The Hours shared the best actress prize.

The 53rd annual Berlinale, one of Europe’s top three film festivals, named Sam Rockwell best actor for playing US game show mogul Chuck Barris in George Clooney’s directorial debut Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

The Golden Bear for best film reflected the central theme of this year’s festival, the thorny topic of migration. In this World, directed by Michael Winterbottom, followed the fate of two Afghans in a Pakistan refugee camp who seek a new life in the west. Their journey to London is long and hazardous.

Winterbottom said he had been compelled to make the film, one of 22 competing in Berlin, because of a growing hostility towards immigrants throughout Europe.

“People say: ‘These people shouldn’t be here, they should be sent home’...but even if people are economic migrants, what’s wrong with that'” the director said after last week’s screening.

In fact, fiction became reality in the documentary-style account for one of the central characters. Fifteen-year-old Jamal, picked from hopefuls in the camp in Peshawar, has since been given leave to stay in Britain until his 18th birthday.

Winterbottom will accept his award later after one of the strongest competition rosters at Berlin, whose film festival ranks behind Cannes, but alongside Venice.

Another British film The Hours, which has picked up nine Oscar nominations, had been considered a frontrunner for both best film and best actress.

In the end, the jury headed by Canadian director Atom Egoyan, chose all three in the triple tale based on Virginia Woolf’s breakthrough novel Mrs Dalloway.

Spike Jonze’s Adaptation, starring Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep, was awarded a Silver Bear as overall film runner up.

US director Oliver Stone said yesterday he hoped his new Fidel Castro documentary would create a more balanced view of the Cuban leader who heads one of world’s last Communist states.

“Is it bad to be a dictator'” asks Castro towards the end of Stone’s film, which will be shown on US television on May 11. “I have seen the US become very friendly towards some dictators.” The controversial director followed the Cuban leader, then 75, over three days in February 2002. His 30 hours of interviews were cut down and combined with documentary footage to produce the 90-minute Commandante.

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