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Berlinale: the documentary Dahomey wins the Golden Bear

Vita gazette – The Golden Bear of the 74th edition of the Berlinale was won by the documentary “Dahomey” by French director Mati Diop. Sang-soo was awarded the Silver Bear “Grand Jury Prize” at the Berlinale for “A Traveller’s Need” with Isabelle Huppert, and Dumont received the Jury Prize for his ‘L’Empire’, which parodies Star Wars in Northern France.

This year, at the 74th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), which took place in an environment where discussions on war, human rights and massacres took precedence over cinema, the documentary film “Dahomey” by the Senegalese French director Mati Diop won the Golden Bear Award. Filmmakers’ calls broke official silence at the 74th Berlinale awards ceremony for an immediate ceasefire for Gaza. Many people went on stage wearing Palestinian keffiyehs at the awards ceremony of the Berlinale, the prestigious German festival, which came to the fore due to the censorship scandals imposed on Palestinian artists. Diop, who went on stage to accept the award, invited in her speech to “break down together the wall of silence” and to “rebuild through extradition” to “bring justice”. The director, winner of the Golden Bear, stated: “I am with Palestine,” and called for a ceasefire. Filmmakers’ calls for an immediate ceasefire for Gaza broke official silence at the 74th Berlinale awards ceremony.

Dahomey prevailed over two other favourites: his countryman Bruno Dumont and the South Korean Hong Sang-soo. The winner, therefore, was a documentary in which Diop talks about colonisation through the history of the works of art returned to Benin in 2021 after being stolen by the French colonisers in 1892 when the African country was called the Kingdom of Dahomey. The Silver Bear “Grand Jury Prize” of the Berlinale went to Sang-soo for “A Traveller’s Need” with Isabelle Huppert and to Dumont the Jury Prize for his “L’Empire’, which parodies Star Wars in Northern France.

“Gaza, stop the fire now.”

The jury led by the actress, director, producer and best-selling author Lupita Nyong’o, Kenyan-Mexican, the first African-American woman to play this role, awarded the Silver Bear for Best Director to the Dominican Nelson Carlos De Los Santos Arias for the film “Pepe”, centred on the hippopotamus from the private zoo of drug trafficking king Pablo Escobar.

The award for best leading performance went to Sebastian Stan in “Different Man” and the one for supporting actor Emily Watson in “Small Things Like These”, Tim Mielants’ opening film, which attracted the media by exhibiting Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer’s Irish actor. In announcing the award, Jasmine Trinca – one of the seven members of the jury – launched an appeal for a truce in Gaza, saying, “Stop the fire now”. The slogan also appeared on stickers on clothes worn on the red carpet. Wearing a keffiyeh, the American Ben Russell appeared on stage to collect the award for best film in the “Encounters” section (‘Direct Action’, on protest techniques).

On the second anniversary of the start of the war, a reminder to Ukraine came from another juror, the Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko, who denounced the Russian “war of extermination”. The Iranian film “My Favorite Cake” by the director duo Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha, whose passport was confiscated by the Tehran authorities and they were therefore unable to go to Berlin, received two awards from the independent juries (‘Chiese’ and ‘Fipresci’).

Israeli and Palestinian directors: “No Other Country”

A day before the ceremony, while the films competing in the Panorama Section were also awarded, the international jury did not remain silent about what happened in Gaza. It awarded the “Berlinale Documentary Award” to the documentary “No Other Country”. Directed by a collective of Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers, the documentary offers a sobering look at the Israeli government’s attempts to deport Palestinians from Masafer Yatta, a rural village in the occupied West Bank. The documentary also received the “Best Documentary” award from the festival audience. After the award announcement, the film’s directors, Basel Adra, Hamdan Ballal, Yuval Abraham and Rachel Szor, took to the stage and called on “the powerful people in the room” to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and to take action to stop the war. Occupation of the West Bank by Israel. The leaders also said Germany should stop supplying weapons to Israel.

While the documentary “Teaches of Peaches” by Philipp Fussenegger and Judy Landkammer was deemed worthy of the Best Documentary Award at the TEDDY Awards, the film’s main hero, Jewish-Canadian artist Merrill Nisker, turned to the German authorities from the stage and said that no one could interfere with his freedom of thought and expression and that he can speak whenever he wants, he stressed. Wanting this censorship to end, the artist underlined the call for a ceasefire in Gaza with the film crew. Source: Filmmakers’ calls for an immediate ceasefire for Gaza broke official silence at the 74th Berlinale awards ceremony

Below is the complete list of awards:

Golden Bear: Dahomey by Mati Diop

Silver Bear

Jury Prize: L’Empire by Bruno Dumont

Grand Jury Prize: A Traveler’s Needs by Hong Sang-soo

Best Director: Nelson Carlos De Los Santos Arias for Pepe

Best Leading Performance: Sebastian Stan for A Different Man

Best Supporting Performance: Emily Watson for Small Things Like These

Best screenplay: Dying by Matthias Glasner

Best artistic contribution: Martin Gschlacht, director of photography of The Devil’s Bath

Awards of the International Short Film Jury:

Silver Bear for best short film: Remains of the Hot Day (Re tian wu hou) by Wenqian Zhang

Golden Bear for best short film: An Odd Turn (Un movimiento extraño) by Francisco Lezama

Encounters Jury Awards:

Special Jury Prize: The Great Yawn of History by Aliyar Rasti and Some Rain Must Fall by Qiu Yang (ex aequo)

Best Director: Juliana Rojas for Cidade; Field

Best film: Direct Action by Guillaume Cailleau and Ben Russell

GWFF Best First Feature Award: Cu Li Never Cries by Pham Ngoc Lan

Best documentary: No Other Land by Basel Adra, Hamdan Ballal, Yuval Abraham, Rachel Szor


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