US director Steven Spielberg (76) received the Honorary Golden Bear at the Berlinale for his life's work. Spielberg accepted the award on Tuesday evening in Berlin from Berlinale directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian. The audience celebrated Spielberg with minute-long ovations.
Spielberg was visibly touched during the gala. He spoke of an incredible honor. "I'm overwhelmed because I couldn't accomplish anything on my own. All my films have been made in collaboration with great people. My whole life, my family - everything is collaboration."
Spielberg said he owed a lot to German cinema. He named film pioneers like Murnau and Lubitsch, but also directors like Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Margarethe von Trotta, Wim Wenders, Wolfgang Petersen, Volker Schlöndorff and Tom Tykwer. "I've been inspired by all of them, by their films," Spielberg said. "My work is somehow at home in Germany, and tonight I really feel almost at home here."
Spielberg announced that he wants to make many more films. "I would like to surpass Manoel de Oliveira". The Portuguese film director, who died in 2015, made his last film at the age of 106. "Maybe I can do it," said the three-time Oscar winner.
U2 singer Bono described Spielberg in a laudation as "the greatest of the greats in Hollywood". Spielberg knows that we can only live with love. "Steven Spielberg is the soul of cinema." Bono compared the director to his historical figures. "He's been digging up the past for decades to see what that means for the present." Spielberg is "a masterful storyteller" over thousands of years from dinosaurs to artificial intelligence. Spielberg touched people's hearts with shock as well as delight.
Spielberg's latest film "The Fabelmans" was shown during the gala. It will be in German cinemas on March 9th. The story tells of Spielberg's childhood and youth as the son of Jewish parents in the USA in the 1950s and 60s - and his beginnings as a filmmaker.
The Berlinale has already honored a number of filmmakers for their life's work, most recently the actresses Isabelle Huppert, Helen Mirren and Charlotte Rampling. Alongside Cannes and Venice, the International Film Festival is one of the most important film festivals in the world.