The Elite Squad, which beat out favourites from Hollywood and Britain to win the Golden Bear for best picture, portrays violence and corruption within a crack police team sent to clean up Rio’s crime-infested favelas.
A box-office hit in Brazil, director Jose Padilha’s film divided critics at the 58th Berlinale, with one reviewer calling it “a recruitment film for fascist thugs”. Mr Padilha said he had been “concerned” at some of the criticism, but insisted it was misplaced.
“Perhaps they just didn’t grasp what it was about, which is a shame,” he said. “The film aims to explain how the state turns policemen either into corrupt people... or worst of all violent people.
“The huge majority of Brazilians understand that. I don’t think it is mysterious,” said Mr Padilha.
The best director prize went to US filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson for the heavily favoured There Will Be Blood, in which British-born Daniel Day-Lewis gives a towering performance as a tyrannical oil prospector.