Director Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary “Fuocoammare” or Fire at Sea, about the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, has won the coveted Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival.
It was presented by the head of the international film jury, actress Meryl Streep.
Success for the film about life on and off the Italian island of Lampedusa was a fitting end for a festival which went out of its way to make refugees welcome by giving them free tickets.
Rosi paid tribute to those who risked their lives to escape war and poverty, and to the people of Lampedusa who welcomed them.
“Of course now at this moment my deeper thoughts go to all the people that never arrived to Lampedusa on these journeys of hope,” Rosi said in his acceptance speech on stage at Berlin’s cinema palace for the glittering awards ceremony.
The Best Director award went to France’s Mia Hansen-Love for her film “L’Avenir” (Things to Come) while the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize went to “Smrt u Sarajevu” (Death in Sarajevo) and its Bosnian director Danis Tanovic.
Our correspondent in Berlin, Wolfgang Spindler, said “The refugee crisis was the leitmotif of this year’s film festival. The jury’s decision to award the best movie prize to a documentary about that theme, underlines the decisiveness of the festival to put politically aware films in the limelight.”