Berlinale Dispatches: And the Golden Bear goes to...

The 73rd Berlinale comes to a close with some surprising and left-field choices
The 73rd Berlinale comes to a close with some surprising and left-field choices Copyright Berlin Film Festival
Copyright Berlin Film Festival
By David Mouriquand
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Berlinale Dispatches: And the Golden Bear goes to...


A snow-caked Berlin celebrates a new Golden Bear winner.

This year’s Berlin International Film Festival has come to a close, and after the cringy self-congratulatory “give it up for yourselves” introduction at the closing awards ceremony, reminding everyone about the political activism throughout the duration of this 73rd edition and the grand total of 120 mins of standing ovations, the results were in...

Out of the 19 films in Competition, the jury of the 73rd Berlinale - presided over by Kristen Stewart - awarded the coveted Golden Bear for Best Film to French documentary Sur L'Adamant by Nicolas Philibert.

Following the win of Laura Poitras last year in Venice for her outstanding documentary All The Beauty and the Bloodshed, major film festivals seem to be pushing documentary filmmaking and giving it the spotlight it deserves. The film plunges viewers into a unique floating day-care center located on the Seine river in the heart of Paris, which welcomes adults with mental disorders and introduces us to both patients and caregivers, who are inventing a way to be together.

Nothing for any of the anime films in Competition like the fantastic Suzume, and the critical consensus following Celine Song’s terrific Past Lives or Lila Avilés’ Tótem was thwarted for this left-field choice, which didn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar for the top prize.

Watch: David Moriquand reports from the Berlin Film Festival

The other winners of the evening where as follows:

  • Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize: Roter Himmel (Afire) – Christian Petzold

Cheers followed this win, as the tragi-comic drama was one of our favourites this year. Stay tuned to Euronews Culture for our interview with Christian Petzold.

  • Silver Bear Jury Prize: Mal Viver - Joao Canijo

Shamefully, it’s the only Competition title I didn’t get to see. So, congrats and Godspeed. Although, when the director took to the stage and said “I really can’t believe it”, someone heckled back: “Me neither!” I’m guessing it wasn’t to everyone’s liking!

  • Silver Bear for Best Director: Philippe Garrel for The Grand Chariot (The Plough).

Another prize for the French this year. “I want to dedicate this film to Jean-Luc Godard.” Typical. Lila Avilés was robbed for her spellbinding work on Tótem.

  • Gender-neutral Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance: Sofia Otero for 20,000 Especies De Abejas (20,000 Species of Bees).

The young Otero plays an 8-year-old boy suffering because people keep addressing him as a boy, when she identifies as a girl. This excellent film by Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren was her first time in front of the camera, and it’s wonderful to see such a young performer winning the top performance prize. We predicted it wouldn’t go home empty-handed, as the themes of gender and the constructive binaries that oppress young and old alike strike an important and current chord. Unlike the next award, this one feels very earned.

  • Gender-neutral Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance: Thea Ehre for Bis Ans Ende Der Nacht (Till the End of the Night).

This one is hardly surprising, as Ehre’s performance is decent and the best thing about German genre movie Bis Ans Ende Der Nacht. There’s also a representation dimension to this choice, as Ehre is a trans performer, and in a gender-neutral category looking to break new ground and open perspectives, this feels like a telegraphed beat. It’s far from the worst performance of the Competition selection, but the film stands as one of the weakest and most unnecessarily muddled. There’s also something frustrating about the two acting awards, as both went to performances in films dealing with gender binaries and trans identity; a vital and important subject, but the awards can’t help but feel overly well-meaning and obvious - giving the acting prizes more for representation rather than overall qualtiy. Still, at least Sofia Otero won her prize. 

  • Silver Bear for Best Screenplay: Music by Angela Schanelec.

Odd choice, as the script is so oblique in this strange and austere beast of a film. It’s a reworking of the Oedipus myth and an elliptical headache that is both fascinating but maddingly elusive. Still, it’s wonderful to see a filmmaker of Schanelec’s calibre pushing cinematic boundaries. This is a film you respect more than you enjoy. Still, this one really should have gone to Celine Song for Past Lives.

  • Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution: Hélène Louvart for the cinematography of Disco Boy.

No complaints here. Plus, Louvart invites director Giaccomo Abbruzzese on stage to share the prize and a lovely hug.

Stay tuned to Euronews Culture for the full debrief of the 73rd edition of the festival: our highs, lows, as well as the top Berlinale films seen this year that audiences have to look forward to.

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