Homage and Honorary Golden Bear 2020 for Dame Helen Mirren
The 70th Berlin International Film Festival honoured Oscar-winner Dame Helen Mirren with its Homage and awarded her the Honorary Golden Bear for her lifetime achievement.
The award ceremony on February 27, 2020, at the Berlinale Palast included a screening of The Queen (2006, dir: Stephen Frears).
Not only is Helen Mirren one of the world’s most renowned actresses, she was also one of the youngest ever to join the famed Royal Shakespeare Company. Over the decades, her charisma, expressiveness, and range as an actress have been amply demonstrated in a wide variety of genres.
“Helen Mirren is a strong personality whose powerful portrayals are always impressive. She surprises us time and again with her interpretation of complex characters – whether it’s Chris in Calendar Girls or Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, her portrayals are a paradigm of strong women, and it is our great pleasure to award her the Honorary Golden Bear for her lifetime achievement,” says Mariette Rissenbeek, Executive Director of the Berlinale.
Among the many accolades Mirren has received, she won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Actress and Golden Globe for her performance in The Queen. In addition to many international film prizes, her stage work has also been honoured with the leading theatre tributes – the Olivier Award, Tony and Drama Desk Awards. In 2003, Helen Mirren was awarded the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her services to drama.
Helen Mirren has a unique acting style that allows her to feel at home in both British and American cinema, making it possible to work with auteur filmmakers, who have clearly defined styles such as Robert Altman or Paul Schrader, and acting in big US action films like RED and the Fast and Furious franchise.
After working mainly in theatre, including with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Mirren’s first major film role was in Michael Powell’s 1969 comedy Age of Consent. She subsequently made her mark in 1980’s The Long Good Friday (dir: John Mackenzie), playing the assertive girlfriend of a top gangster. Her portrayal of Georgina in Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) was also legendary. Beginning in the 1990s, Helen Mirren increasingly expanded and diversified her roles in both film and television, among them Robert Altman’s 2001 Gosford Park (Berlinale 2002). Her flair for comedy was once again in evidence with Calendar Girls (2003, dir: Nigel Cole). Between 1991 and 2006, she headed up the seven instalments of the TV series Prime Suspect as police superintendent Jane Tennison.
In The Last Station (2009), directed by Michael Hoffmann, she played Leo Tolstoy’s wife Sofya. She was at the Berlinale in 2015, alongside co-star Ryan Reynolds, with Woman in Gold (dir: Simon Curtis). Since then, she has appeared onscreen in Eye in the Sky (2015, dir: Gavin Hood) and The Leisure Seeker (2017, dir: Paolo Virzì) among others.
Mirren gives another terrific performance in the thriller The Good Liar (dir: Bill Condon), co-starring with Ian McKellen, and was also shown in the Homage section.
The 2020 Homage films:
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, UK / France / Netherlands 1989, director: Peter Greenaway
The Good Liar, USA 2019, director: Bill Condon
The Last Station, Germany / UK / Russia 2009, director: Michael Hoffmann
The Long Good Friday, UK 1980, director: John Mackenzie
The Queen, UK / France / Italy 2006, director: Stephen Frears
As a partner of the Berlin International Film Festival for many years, the Deutsche Kinemathek has, since 1977, mounted the Homage section in addition to the Retrospective.