Prizes of the International Jury

The most important awards at the Berlinale are the Golden Bear and the Silver Bears. They are presented by the International Jury to films in the Competition and belong to the most renowned awards in the international film industry.

Jeremy Irons, president of the International Jury 2020

The acclaimed British film and theatre actor Jeremy Irons will serve as president of the International Jury at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival.

The festival management of the Berlinale is honoured to have won Jeremy Irons for this anniversary edition. “With his distinctive style Jeremy Irons has embodied some iconic characters that have accompanied me throughout my journey in cinema, making me aware of the complexity of human beings. His talent and the choices he has taken both as an artist and as a citizen make me feel proud to welcome him as president of the Jury for the 70th edition of the Berlinale,” comments Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian.
“It is with feelings of great pleasure and not inconsiderable honour that I take on the role of president of the International Jury for the Berlinale 2020, a festival that I have admired for so long and that I have always enjoyed attending.
Being in Berlin for the festival will be a treat giving me the opportunity not only to remind myself of that great city but also to watch this year’s crop of films chosen by the festival, followed by the opportunity to discuss their merits with my fellow jury members,” said Jeremy Irons with regard to his jury presidency.

Jeremy Irons is one of the most distinguished character actors in the international film and theatre world. In numerous cinematic and television productions, he has won over audiences and critics and has worked with many renowned international directors, including David Lynch (Inland Empire, 2006), Ridley Scott (Kingdom of Heaven, 2005), Volker Schlöndorff (Swann in Love, 1984), Louis Malle (Damage, 1992), Bernardo Bertolucci (Stealing Beauty, 1996) and many more.

In 2011, Jeremy Irons was a guest at the Berlinale for the first time, appearing as the main actor in the Competition entry Margin Call by J.C. Chandor. The actor returned to the festival in 2013 with Bille August’s Night Train to Lisbon, which the Berlinale showed out of competition.

Jeremy Irons achieved worldwide recognition in front of the camera in 1981, notably for his leading role in the series Brideshead Revisited and for the Victorian drama The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981) by Karel Reisz, in which he starred together with Meryl Streep. Previously, he had been best known as a theatre actor, including performances at London’s West End. As a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, he remained loyal to the theatre, even following his successful screen debut. In 1984, he made his first Broadway appearance in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing and received the Tony Award for his performance.

Indeed, Jeremy Irons has gained numerous international film honours during the course of his career. For his portrayal as Claus von Bülow in Reversal of Fortune by Barbet Schroeder, he received both the Golden Globe and the Oscar for Best Actor in 1991. In 2006, he was also awarded a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in the series Elizabeth I.. He is also the recipient of an Honorary César Award in 2002.

The genres of the films in which Jeremy Irons played central roles encompass a very broad spectrum. In The Mission (1986), Jeremy Irons took on the role of a Spanish Jesuit, whilst in the screen adaptation of Isabel Allende’s famous debut novel The House of the Spirits (1993), he played an ambitious rancher. He acted as the antagonist in the action film Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1994), one of the three musketeers in the novel The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) and Franz Kafka in Steven Soderbergh’s biographical thriller Kafka from 1991. In 1997, he embodied the protagonist Humbert Humbert in the controversial film adaptation of Lolita by Adrian Lyne. Jeremy Irons was also active in the world of documentary films. Candida Brady’s film Trashed was released in 2012, a work which follows Jeremy Irons on his mission and his journey around the world, raising the consciousness of viewers with respect to the global problem of garbage production.

Jeremy Irons can currently be seen as Ozymandias in the HBO series Watchmen.

The Golden Bear

The Bear statues are based on a design by sculptress Renée Sintenis (1888-1965). Since the beginning of the festival, they have been produced by the Noack sculpture foundry in Berlin. The German capital’s trademark mascot also graces the Berlinale logo.

The International Jury is selected every year by the Artistic Director and presents the following awards:

  • Golden Bear for Best Film
  • Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize
  • Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize, Special Jury Award
  • Silver Bear for Best Director
  • Silver Bear for Best Actress
  • Silver Bear for Best Actor
  • Silver Bear for Best Screenplay
  • Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution in the categories camera, editing, music score, costume or set design

Only one Bear may be awarded ex aequo. The Jury may not award more than one prize to the same film, except in the case of the acting awards.

In recent years, internationally recognised personalities from the world of film such as James Schamus, Wong Kar Wai, Mike Leigh, Isabella Rossellini, Werner Herzog, Tilda Swinton, Darren Aronofsky, Meryl Streep and Paul Verhoeven were invited to head the jury. Jury members include directors, actresses and actors as well as producers, but also writers and artists. One of the festive highpoints of every Berlinale is the presentation of the Bears on the penultimate day of the festival.