The gritty Chinese thriller "Bai Ri Yan Huo" (Black Coal, Thin Ice), which features an overweight detective on the trail of a serial killer, won the Golden Bear for best film on Saturday at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Liao Fan, who played detective Zhang Zili, was named Best Actor, while Haru Kuroki won Best Actress for her portrayal of a housemaid in the Japanese film "Chiisai Ouchi" (The Little House).
"It's really hard to believe this dream has come true," a stunned Diao Yinan, director of the winning film, told the audience at the Berlinale Palast.
American Richard Linklater was named Best Director for his coming-of-age film "Boyhood", using the same child actors over a 12-year span, while Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel", the festival opener, took the Silver Bear grand jury prize.
The Ethiopian film "Difret", based on a real case of bride abduction in Ethiopia, took the audience award.
The Berlin festival, officially called the Berlinale, is one of the oldest and most prestigious film showcases in the world.
But this year some critics complained of a dearth of strong entries among the 23 films in the competition category. There was also grumbling that the festival, renowned for showing films with strong political agendas, had given too much space to Hollywood with Anderson's film and the international premiere of George Clooney's "Monuments Men".
"There was never a line-up which was good for the critics, such a line-up doesn't exist," festival director Dieter Kosslick told Reuters on the red carpet as stars entered for the awards ceremony.
The festival showed more than 400 films overall, including a series of movies on cooking and food themes and an unfinished documentary by veteran filmmaker Martin Scorsese about the political and literary journal the New York Review of Books.