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Spotlight on the Best
by Karen Pecota

Julia Jentsch received the Silver Bear Award for Best Actress for her performance in Sophie Scholl -- The Final Days. This is the story of Sophie Scholl and her last six days before her execution. Sophie, her brother Hans and their friends led the pacifist movement called the White Rose. They were arrested passing out anti-Nazi leaflets at Munich University. The story is told from Sophie’s point of view, which is refreshing because most of the stories told in this form are from a man’s perspective. In 1982, the story was first made for film, but since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 more documentation was uncovered regarding the Scholl siblings, the White Rose movement and how the interrogation process was conducted. German director Marc Rothemund could not pass up the opportunity to add these enlightening documents to the narrative account taken from Sophie’s perspective. Julia, about the same age as Sophia, portrayed her account admirably. One commentator describes Julia as, “a face to remember”! Yes, she does have this natural innocence to her aura and I believe that we will remember Julia because of her talented versatility on stage, television and now feature films for years to come.

Lou Taylor Pucci received the Silver Bear Award for Best Actor for his performance in Thumbsucker. This is a story about a seventeen-year-old boy who continued to suck his thumb when he would encounter undue stress or trauma. This film is a journey about breaking this habit that is so unbecoming of a person his age and intelligence. The difficulty being that the problem was a symptom of deeper issues: his self-image and pressures of a stressed-out family. To observe the non-verbal communication style in this family made me uncomfortable, and I could not help but wonder if this is often a cause of undue stress in many relationships. Lou brought to his character an amazing sensitivity and timing using his facial expressions that were absolutely priceless in expressing emotions. Lou began his career on stage at the age of ten and then auditioned for The Sound of Music on Broadway at age 15, which led to the feature film Personal Velocity and then Thumbsucker. Yet most of his acting experience has come from theater. Director Mike Mills was thrilled to cast him because of his natural vulnerability and his ability not to wear a mask during the audition that would hide his talent, winning him the role of Jason in Thumbsucker.

Julia and Lou are both up-and-coming artists to the big screen. Their award-winning performances are a result of their talents. They have a promising future. What impressed me about both of these young people is that they have a natural ability to enjoy the moment of success with integrity. They displayed a sincere thankfulness for their awards and have a fresh style that radiates transparency. They convey a confidence as young professionals and show kindness to others. In relating to a post-modern generation, these qualities will forever be in their favor and a key to their future success.