The 2008 Berlin International Film Festival awards have been announced, and while I've only seen one of the films that picked up prizes, I'm very excited about the results. The top honor, the Golden Bear, went to Tropa de Elite (The Elite Squad), which is the first fiction film directed by Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha, who last gave us the brilliant documentary Bus 174. It was also scripted by Oscar-nominated writer Bráulio Mantovani (City of God) and tells the story of a captain in Rio's Special Police Operations Battalion and the corruption within the city's military police force, particularly its brutality in the handling of Rio's favelas. The film was hugely popular in Brazil when it was released there last fall, though mostly it was viewed illegally via the internet. Originally due out in the U.S. last month from The Weinstein Co., Moviefone now shows the film as being a Summer 2008 release, hopefully with a lot of support now thanks to the big win in Berlin.

Another Latin American cinema winner was Mexico's Lake Tahoe, the latest from Fernando Eimbcke (Duck Season), which picked up the Alfred Bauer Prize for innovative filmmaking and a FIPRESCI critics prize. Other winners include Errol Morris' eagerly anticipated documentary on Abu Graib, Standard Operating Procedure, which won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize (aka second prize) and Paul Thomas Anderson, who won the Silver Bear award for best director, for There Will Be Blood. Anderson's film also received a Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution (Music) for Jonny Greenwood and its score. The Silver Bear award for best screenplay went to Xiaoshaui Wang for In Love We Trust, while the Silver Bears for acting went to Sally Hawkins, for her peformance in Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky, and Reza Najie for his performance in Majid Majidi's The Song of Sparrows. Kumasaka Izuru won a best first film award for Asyl -- Park and Love Hotel. For the rest of the Berlin winners head over to the festival's website.