Drama on fractured Israeli identity scoops Berlin film fest top prize | 2019-02-18

Drama on fractured Israeli identity scoops Berlin film fest top prize

17th February, 2019 10:00:29 printer

Drama on fractured Israeli identity scoops Berlin film fest top prize

A critical drama about an Israeli expatriate in Paris wrestling with his identity, “Synonyms” by director Nadav Lapid, won the Golden Bear top prize at the Berlin film festival Saturday, reports AFP.

Lapid said the sexually explicit, semi-autobiographical movie, which deals with a young man who has fled Israel over its fraught political situation, might “scandalise” many in his home country as well as France.

“I hope that people will not look only at this film as a kind of harsh or radical political statement because it’s not,” he told reporters after accepting the prize from jury president Juliette Binoche.

“First of all, it’s a human and existential and artistic statement. The film is also a celebration and a party, a celebration of cinema.”

The runner-up jury prize went to French filmmaker Francois Ozon for “By the Grace of God”, a wrenching drama based on real-life survivors of rampant sexual molestation in the Catholic church. “The film tries to break the silence in powerful institutions,” he said.

“I want to share this prize with the victims of sexual abuse.”

Ozon noted that the film’s release in France, scheduled for next week, was facing a legal challenge, which he blasted as an attempt at “censorship”.

The stars of moving Chinese epic “So Long, My Son”, Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei, about the lasting impact of the country’s now abandoned one-child policy, shared the Silver Bear top acting prizes.

“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.”

Binoche had earlier expressed “regret” that another Chinese film, veteran Zhang Yimou’s “One Second”, was pulled from the competition reportedly due to official censorship.

“Zhang has been an essential voice in international cinema,” she said.

“We need artists who help us make sense of history.”

German filmmaker Angela Schanelec, one of a record seven women out of 16 contenders in competition, won the best director prize for “I Was At Home, But”, a drama about a teenager who returns after a week-long disappearance to his mother, a grieving widow.