French documentary “Dahomey” wins Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear

by Barbara

Mati Diop’s second feature film, “Dahomey,” takes center stage at the Berlin Film Festival, shedding light on the repatriation of cultural relics from Paris to Benin. Despite its concise 67-minute duration, the film magnifies the significance of rare cultural artifacts lost in Benin. Diop, known for her acclaimed debut “Atlantics,” secured the Grand Jury Prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

South Korean director Hong Sang-soo solidified his presence at the Berlin Film Festival, clinching the Grand Jury Silver Bear for “A Traveler’s Needs,” starring French actress Isabelle Huppert. Hong’s loyalty to the festival is evident, marking his eighth appearance in Berlin and his fourth award, having previously secured Silver Bears in various categories.


French director Bruno Dumont’s sci-fi comedy “Empire” claimed the Jury Silver Bear, earning recognition for its unique take on the genre. While the film has received mixed reviews since its release in France on February 21, its distinctiveness stood out to the festival jury.


Nelson Arias from the Dominican Republic earned the Best Director award for “Pepe,” a compelling drama centered around a hippopotamus. The Best Screenplay Award went to “Death Movement,” written and directed by German filmmaker Matthias Glasner.


In the acting realm, Hollywood actor Sebastian Stan was honored with the Best Actor Award for his role in Aaron Schmidberg’s “A Different Man.” Notably, this marks the first time a male actor has received this award since the merger of the Actor and Actress categories at the Berlin Film Festival. Emily Watson, the renowned British actress, secured the Best Supporting Actor Award for her performance in the festival’s opening film, “Little Things Like This.” Martin Kracht, the cinematographer of the Austrian-German horror film “The Devil’s Bath,” received the Outstanding Artistic Contribution Award.

Although Chinese-language films were absent from the main competition section, noteworthy recognitions were achieved in other categories. “The Woman in the Empty Room” by Qiu Yang secured the Special Jury Award in the Encounter Unit, Zhang Wenqian’s “Hot Day Afternoon” claimed the Jury Award in the Short Film Unit, and Lan Canzhao’s “Summer End” received the Jury Award for Best Short Film in the New Generation Children’s Unit. Hong Kong director Yeung Yao-kai’s “From Now on” won the Teddy Bear Award for Best Film and placed third in the Audience Choice Award for the Panorama Unit.

However, the ceremony faced controversy as some winners used the platform to denounce Israel, express sympathy for Gaza, and remain silent about Hamas’s actions. Reports from Der Spiegel and Bild highlighted the stir during the event.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung criticized the consecutive trend of documentaries winning the festival’s largest Golden Bear Award, seeing it as a signal from the jury to the festival leadership. The awarded film, directed by a French-Senegalese filmmaker, documents the return of a statue from the pre-colonial kingdom of Dahomey to Benin. The documentary, while focusing on the repatriation process, has sparked discussions on the festival’s preference for non-controversial content.

In conclusion, the Berlin Film Festival showcased a diverse array of films, with notable recognitions spanning cultural documentaries, sci-fi comedies, and compelling dramas. The controversy surrounding certain statements during the ceremony added a layer of complexity to an otherwise celebratory event.


You may also like


Rnada is a movie portal. The main columns include trailers, movie reviews, celebrities, movie knowledge, news

Copyright © 2023