The French documentary, The Spanish Girl, won the top prize at the Berlinale.

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Best Film Award winner during a news conference at the 73rd Berlinale International Film Festival on February 25, 2023 in Berlin, Germany.
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Golden Bear for Best Picture Award-winning director Nicolas Philbert. On Adamantgestures during a news conference at the 73rd Berlinale International Film Festival on February 25, 2023 in Berlin, Germany | Photo credit: Reuters

The Berlin Film Festival on Saturday awarded the top prize, the Golden Bear, to a documentary by French director Nicolas Philbert and the best actress award to an eight-year-old girl in what jury chief Kristen Stewart called a “boundary-pushing” episode. .

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On Adamant“, coming 20 years after Philbert’s famous educational documentary” To be and to be”, is about a floating daycare center for people with psychiatric problems on the Seine in Paris.

Thanking the jury, 72-year-old Filbert said “this documentary can be considered cinema in its own right, it has a profound effect on me”.

On a night full of surprises, the festival’s gender-neutral acting prize went to eight-year-old Spain’s Sofia Otero.

The young actress won an award for playing the role of a transgender child. 20,000 species of bees“, the first feature from Spanish director Estables Aresola Solagorin.

The film has been well received by critics. Screen Daily, for one, predicted that “arthouse audiences around the world should respond to the pathos, magnitude and humanity of a film that takes a while to build, but when it’s made, it’s never too late.” Don’t lose your grip.”

Otero, who fought back tears while collecting the award, later told reporters he was “very grateful, very happy.”

Stewart, at 32 the youngest president in the festival’s history, said the jury had been asking itself all week “what makes a film a film”.

He had set aside “invisible parameters” in awarding the Golden Bear, he said, because “when you focus too much on something, you stop knowing about it.

“It’s a boundary-pushing festival and so it gives us an opportunity to broaden how we define these things, how we value works of art, how we value them,” he said. How do you rate,” he said.

There was more success for France as 74-year-old Philippe Garrel won the Silver Bear for Best Director for “”. plough”, a drama about three siblings in a family of puppeteers coping with the death of their father.

Garrel dedicated the prize to her children and to French-Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard, “a great master for many of us,” who died last September.

Got second prize.” a fireFrom German director Christian Petzold, about a group of friends whose vacation on the Baltic coast goes terribly wrong.

Variety called it “emotionally well-observed and sharply funny”, while The Hollywood Reporter called it “a deceptively simple and straightforward yet emotionally layered film”.

came third.” bad life” by Joao Canijo from Portugal, about several female members of a family who run a dilapidated hotel and struggle with their relationships with each other.

On Adamant” offers an intimate look into the lives of adults and their caregivers at a daycare center in Paris, giving them an accent on what the creative outlet has to offer.

Philbert said the film was an “attempt to overturn our image” of people with mental health problems.

“Clichés are deeply rooted. The film tries to unravel them. [but] There is a long way to go.”

The Hollywood Reporter praised the film’s “warmth and exuberance”, calling it “a portrait of several individuals who, despite their significant disabilities, are capable of producing original and moving works of art”.

French President Emmanuel Macron congratulated both Philbert and his subjects on the win, calling the film “a story of humanity and determination”.

Documentaries are regularly selected for major international film competitions, but rarely win awards.

Last year, the Venice Film Festival awarded its Golden Lion to a documentary about the opioid crisis in the United States by Laura Poitras (” All beauty and bloodshed“).

After two years of reduced format due to pandemic restrictions, the 11-day Berlinale is back in full swing this year, with A-listers such as Cate Blanchett, Helen Mirren and Steven Spielberg walking the red carpet.

The festival, which is one of Europe’s biggest cinema showcases alongside Cannes and Venice, also celebrated its first anniversary. Russia invades Ukraine and highlighted the anti-government protests in Iran through new feature films and documentaries.

There were 19 films from around the world competing for this year’s Golden Bear, which was awarded at a gala ceremony by a jury chaired by Stewart.

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