UPDATED WRITETHRU: The Berlin Film Festival revealed its 2021 awards in a virtual presentation this afternoon with Radu Jude’s Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn scooping the top prize Golden Bear. Also among winners are debut filmmaker Dénes Nagy who took the Silver Bear for Best Director with Natural Light. Maria Schrader’s I’m Your Man brought star Maren Eggert the Best Leading Performance honor while Maria Speth’s documentary Mr Bachmann And His Class was crowned with the Silver Bear Jury Prize, and the Grand Jury Prize went to Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Wheel Of Fortune And Fantasy (see the full list below).
The winners were unveiled following five days of a virtual industry event that included the European Film Market and the competition films being made available only to delegates and the main jury from March 1-5. Berlin intends to run an audience-focused festival in June, when films will be shown on the big screen. Also at that time, a physical prize ceremony is expected to take place so that today’s winners can be honored in person. German authorities on Wednesday this week said that the country’s lockdown was being extended to March 28 while some easing of Covid restrictions will move ahead in the next weeks. This includes the potential reopening of movie theaters beginning March 22, depending on the rate of new coronavirus infections.
Jude previously won Berlin’s Best Director Silver Bear with 2015’s Aferim!. His current film unfolds over three acts as a teacher comes under fire for a sex tape. In Deadline’s review, Anna Smith called it a “scathing indictment on modern-day Romania” that also provides “dark laughs around every corner.” The Berlin jury today praised the film for its “rare and essential quality of a lasting art work. It captures on screen the very content and essence, the mind and body, the values and the raw flesh of our present moment in time. Of this very moment of human existence. It does so by provoking the spirit of our time, by slapping it, by challenging it to a duel. And while doing that, it also challenges this present moment in cinema, shaking, with the same camera movement, our social and our cinematic conventions. It is an elaborated film as well as a wild one, clever and childish, geometrical and vibrant, imprecise in the best way. It attacks the spectator, evokes disagreement, but leaves no one with a safety distance.”
Remarking on Eggert’s starring I’m Your Man turn as a single anthropologist who agrees to live with a humanoid robot (Dan Stevens) for three weeks as part of a trial testing period, the jury said, “Her presence made us curious. Her charm made us empathic. And her palette of performing qualities allowed us to feel, laugh and ask questions. Confidently bringing to life an excellent script, supported by wonderful colleagues and her director, she created a memorable character that we can identify with – leading us to think about our presence and our future, our relations and what we really want for ourselves.”
Of the well-received Mr Bachmann And His Class, about a teacher and his students in Stadtallendorf, Germany, the jury noted, “In a film, you can draw attention to deep problems by sticking your finger into the wound or showing hope and giving inspiration as how to achieve a positive change. The latter is the strategy that the director of this tenderly powerful documentary chose to follow.”
Berlin’s competition lineup this year also included titles from such filmmakers as Céline Sciamma (Petite Maman) and Daniel Bruhl who premiered his directing debut with Next Door.
The competition jury was comprised of six former Golden Bear laureates. They are: Mohammad Rasoulof (Iran), Nadav Lapid (Israel), Adina Pintilie (Romania), Ildikó Enyedi (Hungary), Gianfranco Rosi (Italy) and Jasmila Žbanić.
Here are the winners:
Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn, dir: Radu Jude
Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize
Wheel Of Fortune And Fantasy, dir: Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Silver Bear Jury Prize
Maria Speth, Mr Bachmann And His Class
Silver Bear For Best Director
Dénes Nagy, Natural Light
Silver Bear Best Leading Performance
Maren Eggert, I’m Your Man
Silver Bear Best Supporting Performance
Lilla Kizlinger, Forest – I See You Everywhere
Silver Bear Best Screenplay
Hong Sangsoo, Introduction
Silver Bear Outstanding Artistic Contribution
Yibrán Asuad for the editing of A Cop Movie
Also announced today were the winners of the ENCOUNTERS section:
We, dir: Alice Diop
Special Jury Award
Taste, dir: Lê Bảo
Best Director – Tie
Ramon Zürcher, Silvan Zürcher for The Girl And The Spider
Denis Côté for Social Hygiene
Rock Bottom Riser, dir: by Fern Silva