The 59th Berlin International Film Festival was held from 5 February to 15 February 2009. The opening film of the festival was Tom Tykwer’s The International, screened out of competition. Costa-Gavras's immigrant drama Eden Is West served as the closing night film at the festival. The festival's jury president was actress Tilda Swinton of the United Kingdom.
The Golden Bear was awarded to Peruvian film La Teta Asustada directed by Claudia Llosa. The retrospective dedicated to the Golden Age of 70mm filmmaking from 1955 to 1970, titled 70 mm – Bigger than Life was shown at the festival.
Admission for the festival was reported to be among the highest in years, and it also set a record for ticket sales, with some 270,000 tickets sold by the halfway mark, compared to 240,000 sold for the entire run of the festival the previous year. The final ticket tally was the largest in the festival’s 59-year history.
The following people were announced as being on the jury for the festival:
- Tilda Swinton (United Kingdom) – Jury President
- Isabel Coixet (Spain)
- Gaston Kaboré (Burkina Faso)
- Henning Mankell (Sweden)
- Christoph Schlingensief (Germany) Schlingensief died of lung cancer on August 21, 2010 in Berlin, Germany at age 49.
- Wayne Wang (USA)
- Alice Waters (USA)
Out of competition screening
The following films were selected for the out of competition screening at the festival:
- Jury Grand Prix (Grand Prize of the Jury): Adrián Biniez for Gigante and Maren Ade for Alle Anderen
- Best Director: Asghar Farhadi for Darbereye Elly
- Best Actor: Sotigui Kouyaté for London River
- Best Actress: Birgit Minichmayr for Alle Anderen
- Best Script: Oren Moverman and Alessandro Camon for The Messenger
- Outstanding Artistic Contribution (sound design): György Kovács, Gábor ifj. Erdélyi and Tamás Székely. for Katalin Varga
- Alfred Bauer Prize: Andrzej Wajda for Tatarak and Adrián Biniez for Gigante
- FIPRESCI Award: Claudia Llosa for La teta asustada