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The Catalan film "Alcarras" has won the Golden Bear, the top award of the Berlin International Film Festival, also known as the Berlinale. The drama depicts the last harvest season of a family of Catalan peach farmers, whose livelihood is threatened when the owner of their land decides to replace the fruit trees with solar panels. "This award is for the people who cultivate the land," said director Carla Simon, whose own family also works in agriculture, upon receiving the award at the gala ceremony held on Wednesday.
Hong Sangsoo was recognized with the Grand Jury Prize, the runner-up award, for "The Novelist's Film," a black-and-white film featuring the prolific South Korean filmmaker's trademark subtle humor. "I guess I'll keep doing what I do," said the visibly surprised director, as he picked up his third Silver Bear in three consecutive years.
Two Silver Bears for a German film on Guantanamo injustice
After awarding its first gender-neutral acting prizes in 2021, this year's Silver Bear for a lead performance went to Meltem Kaplan for her role in German director Andreas Dresen's "Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George Bush," based on the true case of a mother fighting to release her son from Guantanamo. The same film also won the Silver Bear for best screenplay.
Tight restrictions for a COVID festival
There were 18 feature films from 15 countries vying for this year's Golden Bear — just a few works less than in previous years, even though the competitive section of the festival was shortened to six days instead of 10. The shorter event was just one of various measures put in place to allow the Berlinale to take place as a physical event, despite Germany's peak in COVID infections. Screenings for the public will continue until February 20, with a program showcasing 256 films.
Indian-born American director M. Night Shyamalan ("The Sixth Sense") was at the helm of the jury bringing together Karim Ainouz, Anne Zohra Berrached, Said Ben Said, Connie Nielsen, Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Tsitsi Dangarembga as co-jurors.
DW Akademie production recognized with special mention
Beyond the Golden and Silver Bears, various other awards were given out in additional categories. The Best First Feature Award went to Austrian director Kurdwin Ayub for "Sonne."
The Berlinale Documentary Award went to a collective of anonymous filmmakers from Myanmar, for their work "Myanmar Diaries," which documents oppression in the country following the 2021 coup. A special mention also went to Nigerian filmmaker Ike Nnaebue for "No U-Turn," a production made with support from the DW Akademie.
The 2021 Berlinale festival was held online, and the Golden Bear was awarded to Romanian director Radu Jude for his social satire "Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn."
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