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BERLIN - U.S.-born Israeli director Joseph Cedar, pictured, last night won the best director award in this year's Berlin International Film Festival for his movie "Beaufort," depicting the fear and futility felt by soldiers guarding a famed military outpost in southern Lebanon just before Israel's withdrawal from that country in 2000. "It seems pretty obvious that we're against war and that war is horrible - hopefully there's something in my film that gives insight into a more specific nature of how absurd combat ... is," Cedar said. Hundreds of invited guests applauded the Israeli director, who competed with 21 directors for the prestigious prize. This is the first time an Israeli director has won the best director award in the Berlin festival. The film, based on Ron Leshem's bestseller "If There Is A Heaven" (in Hebrew), outlines the daily routine of a group of soldiers in the Beaufort outpost in the months and days before the Israeli pullout from Lebanon.

The Israeli film "Sweet Mud" was awarded the Crystal Bear on Friday, the first prize at the Berlin International Film Festivals' Generation section for children and youth films. The young panel of judges, comprised of seven youths, announced their decision at a festive ceremony in western Berlin. The film, directed by Dror Shaul, competed against 10 other feature films. "This is a wonderful feeling," Shaul told Haaretz shortly after being awarded the prize. "From a personal standpoint, I am very happy to receive international recognition. From a national standpoint, this is undoubtedly the continuation of the success of Israeli films throughout the world."