A documentary about the refugee crisis that has set Europe on the edge and the Malayalam movie Ottaal are among the big winners at the 66th Berlin Film Festival. Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary Fuocommare (Fire at Sea), set on the Lampedusa island, was one of the front-runners for the Golden Bear for best film, and its subject matter proved irresistible for the jury headed by actress Meryl Streep.
Malayalam director Jayaraj’s Ottaal (The Trap) continued its golden streak after awards at the Mumbai Film Festival and the International Film Festival of Kerala, winning the Crystal Bear for the best film in the Generation KPlus section that showcases children’s cinema. Ottaal, based on a short story by Anton Chekov, explores child labour through the relationship of a young boy and his grandfather. Ottaal is the second Indian film in recent times to have topped the category. In 2014, Avinash Arun’s Killa, a coming-of-age story set in Maharashtra, won the Crystal Bear, while Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak, about siblings in Rajasthan, won the Grand Prix award and a special jury mention in 2015.
The Crystal Bear for the best film in the Generation 14Plus category, featuring films about young people, went to Renārs Vimba’s Er Esmu Seit (Mellow Mud) from Latvia. The film follows a 17-year-old girl who falls in love for the first time. Fandry director Nagraj Manjule’s romance Sairaat was among the films competing in this category.
Mia Hansen-Løve’s L’Avenir (Things to Come), starring Isabelle Huppert as a philosophy teacher fielding various emotional crises, was tipped to win a Golden Bear. L’Avenir settled for the second prize, the Silver Bear, for best director.
The best first film feature gong went to Tunisian director Mohamed Ben Attia’s Inhebbek Hedi, about an introverted man who meets the woman of his dreams on the eve of his wedding. Lead actor Majid Mastoura also won the Silver Bear for best actor for his performance.
Death in Sarajevo, Bosnian director Danis Tanovic’s allegory about the economic and political issues facing Europe, was awarded the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize. The Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution went to acclaimed cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-Bing for the mysticism-laden Chinese movie Crosscurrent, directed by Yang Chao.
The Silver Bear for best script was won by Tomasz Wasilewski’s United States of Love, about the lives of four women in post-Communist Poland.
Trine Dyrholm won the Silver Bear for best actress for her performance in Danish stalwart Thomas Vinterberg’s Kollektivit, set in the 1970s in a commune.
The Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize, kept for movies that “opens new perspectives on cinematic art”, went to Filipino master Lav Diaz’s epic-length Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery. The eight-hour movie looks back on the 1896 Philippine Revolution, during which the local population rose up against their Spanish conquerors.
The Teddy Awards, which honours LGBT cinema at the Berlin Film Festival, gave Handl Klaus’s Tomcat the best film award. Tomcat is set in Vienna and examines the impact of violence on a gay couple. Homophobia is also the theme of the Chilean drama You Will Never Be Alone by Alex Anwandter, in which a father copes with a brutal attack on his gay son.