Movies & TV

Iranian dissident wins Berlin’s highest honor

BERLIN: The Golden Bear for Best Film has gone to dissident Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof for his feature “There is no Evil,” about individuals ordered to kill their fellow citizens.

With a quiet intensity that never topples into melodrama, “There is no Evil” relates four stories of average individuals who – in their work for the Iranian judicial system or military – are obliged to carry out capital punishment.

All stories are unique – ranging from a mundane family drama, in which the breadwinner’s job isn’t discussed, to a genre-inflected escape tale, to a spare and allusive homage to Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami, set in rural Iran.

Rasoulof’s seat in the Berlinale Palace was left empty Saturday evening as the writer-director is among those Iranian artists banned from traveling outside the country. The prize was accepted by the filmmaker’s daughter Baran Rasoulof, who is among the film’s several principal actors, and producers Kaveh Farnam and Farzad Pak.

The Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize for the 70th Berlinale went to U.S. filmmaker Eliza Hittman for “Never Rarely Sometimes Always.” A road movie that’s very much of its time, it tells the story of 17-year-old Autumn, a working class gal from rural Pennsylvania who, finding herself pregnant, enlists the aid of her cousin Skylar to make the journey across the line to New York, where she hopes to solve her problem.

This year’s competition jury was headed by actor Jeremy Irons, and included Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie Jacir, Brazilian filmmaker Kleber Mendonca Filho, Argentine-born actor Berenice Bejo, German filmmaker Bettina Brokemper, U.S. playwright and filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan and Italian actor Luca Marinelli

South Korean cinema’s march into the mainstream continued this Berlinale, with the Silver Bear for Best Director going to Hong Sangsoo for “The Woman Who Ran.” This deceptively slight film – which lacks the narrative switchbacks that have become expected in Hong’s work while retaining his masterfully deadpan humor – tells the story of a young woman who uses her husband’s business trip to hook up with three old acquaintances, encounters that allow her to confront a number of old emotional scars.

The Silver Bear for Best Actress went to Paula Beer for her work in Christian Petzold’s “Undine;” The Silver Bear for Best Actor went to Elio Germano for his turn Giorgio Diritti’s “Hidden Away”

The Silver Bear for Best Screenplay went to Italy’s D'Innocenzo Brothers for their "Bad Tales.” The special 70th Berlinale Silver Bear went to “Delete History,” Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern riotously funny tale of three middle-aged Parisians who, in the post-Yellow Vest age, struggle to maintain their dignity in the face of unheard of changes.

The Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution was awarded to cinematographer Jurgen Jurges for his work in “DAU. Natasha.” Ilya Khrzhanovskiy and Jekaterina Oertel’s feature film grows out of the controversial DAU art project – an exploration of the culture and psychology of Soviet-era totalitarianism that’s been funded by an anonymous Russian oligarch – whose wealth and influence presumably stem from having cherry-picked from the dismantled Soviet economic system.

The Berlinale Documentary Award went to “Irradiated,” Rithy Panh’s beautiful but tough-going work that mines the film archives of the Nazi Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge regime and the nuclear attacks on Japan to contemplate man’s inhumanity to man.

For compete information on juries and awards of the 70th Berlin International Film Festival, see the Berlinale website: berlinale.de/prizes

 

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