Mon, Feb 18, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Berlin’s Golden Bear goes to Israeli director Lapid

FILM FESTIVAL:Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei won the top acting awards for their roles in Wang Xiaoshuai’s movie about the impact of Beijing’s one-child policy


Nadav Lapid poses with the Golden Bear for Best Film after the awards ceremony at the 69th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s Synonyms, a movie about a young Israeli man who uproots himself to France and is determined to put his homeland behind him, on Saturday won the Berlin International Film Festival’s top Golden Bear award.

A jury headed by French actress Juliette Binoche chose the movie from a field of 16 competing at the first of the year’s major European film festivals.

The sexually explicit, semi-autobiographical movie set in Paris stars Tom Mercier in the role of Yoav, who has fled Israel over its fraught political situation, refuses to speak Hebrew and is accompanied by an ever-present French dictionary as he tries to put down roots and create a new identity for himself.

Lapid said as he accepted the award that some in Israel — and France — might be “scandalized” by the movie “but for me, the film is also a big celebration — a celebration, I hope, also of cinema.”

“I hope that people will understand that fury and rage and hostility and hate ... are only the twin brothers and sisters of strong attachment and powerful emotions,” he said.

The festival’s best actor and best actress awards went to Wang Jingchun (王景春) and Yong Mei (詠梅) for their roles as a couple who lose their son in director Wang Xiaoshuai’s (王小帥) So Long, My Son (地久天長).

The three-hour Chinese family saga about the lasting impact of China’s now abandoned one-child policy spans three decades, from the 1980s to the present, and portrays a society in constant change.

“This is the tragedy of a woman, a family that loses its son,” Yong said as she picked up her trophy. “We were happy we were able to complete the film.”

The best director honors went to Germany’s Angela Schanelec for her family drama I Was at Home, But.

The festival’s jury grand prize award was won by French director Francois Ozon’s By the Grace of God, a movie about the long-term effects of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

“The film tries to break the silence in powerful institutions,” Ozon said. “I want to share this prize with the victims of sexual abuse.”

Italian anti-mafia journalist Roberto Saviano, along with Maurizio Braucci and Claudio Giovannesi, took the best script award for Piranhas, a film following teenagers growing up in a dangerous world of crime in Naples.

Writing the screenplay, which was based on his book La Paranza dei Bambini, was meant to “show resistance,” and added that “speaking the truth in our country has become very complex,” Saviano said.

He dedicated the trophy to nongovernmental organizations working to save the lives of refugees in the Mediterranean.

This year’s competition originally comprised 17 films, but famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s (張藝謀) One Second (一秒鐘), set amid the chaos and violence of the country’s 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution, was withdrawn after the festival started.

A festival statement on Monday said it was not possible to present it “due to technical difficulties encountered during post-production.” It did not elaborate.

Binoche said at Saturday’s ceremony that jury members “regret that we were not able to consider” the film.

This year’s Berlinale was the last under Dieter Kosslick, its director of the last 18 years.

Kosslick is to be succeeded by Locarno film festival head Carlo Chatrian and Mariette Rissenbeek, a German movie industry officia who will serve as managing director.

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