Film Festival: Berlinale 2023 - Nine-year-old wins acting prize

At just nine years old, she won one of the most important film awards.

Film Festival: Berlinale 2023 - Nine-year-old wins acting prize

At just nine years old, she won one of the most important film awards. Actress Sofía Otero has been awarded a Silver Bear at the Berlinale. In the Spanish coming-of-age film "20,000 especies de abejas" ("20,000 Species of Bees") she plays a child who is searching for his gender identity. Now Otero has been honored for best acting performance in a leading role.

When her name was read out in Berlin on Saturday evening, she clasped her hands in front of her face. Her father kissed her forehead. On stage, the girl thanked the film crew and her family in tears - from her parents to her aunts and uncles.

Youngest winner ever at the Berlinale

According to the Berlinale, Otero is the youngest winner in the history of the festival. In the film, she plays an eight-year-old child. It's called by its male first name, Aitor, by its family, but that doesn't seem right. During a summer vacation in the Basque Country, the child confides in a relative. And the child's search for identity becomes a challenge for the whole family.

The Golden Bear went to the documentary "Sur l'Adamant" by French director Nicolas Philibert. The film tells about an aid organization for people with mental health problems in Paris. Two films by German directors also received awards. Christian Petzold's "Red Sky" received the grand jury prize. And filmmaker Angela Schanelec was awarded the screenplay prize for her Oedipus adaptation "Music".

Silver Bear for Thea Honor

The Austrian Thea honor received the Silver Bear for the best acting performance in a supporting role. In Christoph Hochhäusler's crime thriller "Until the End of the Night," Honor plays a trans woman who is supposed to investigate undercover with a police officer in the drug scene. This performance blew her away, said jury president Kristen Stewart in her laudatory speech. When Stewart wanted to name the winner, she couldn't find the paper at first and had to laugh: "Where's our paper?" But she knew the name by heart.

The Frenchman Philippe Garrel received the Silver Bear for best director, in his film "Le grand chariot" he portrays a family of puppeteers. The jury prize went to Portuguese director João Canijo's psychodrama "Mal Viver", which tells the story of several women in an old hotel. Cinematographer Hélène Louvart was honored for Outstanding Artistic Achievement for the drama "Disco Boy". In it, Franz Rogowski plays a man who flees Belarus and joins the French Foreign Legion.

Big names at the festival

Alongside Cannes and Venice, the Berlinale is one of the major film festivals. In the past few days, US director Steven Spielberg, actress Cate Blanchett and Hollywood star Anne Hathaway have been in Berlin. The war in Ukraine and the situation in Iran were also remembered during the festival. Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth congratulated the award winners - they stand for a cinematic art of being human and humanity, of hearts and the hope for freedom and self-determination.

Cinematic art of humanity, that also applies to the winning film "Sur l'Adamant". The documentary tells the story of an unusual day clinic in Paris - an aid facility housed in a floating building on the Seine. Mentally ill people can find attention, employment and help here by the hour. You can participate in workshops, courses, or just talk to others.

Director Philibert presented his film at a press conference during the festival. He wanted to help change the way people look at patients and people with mental health problems. "And I also wanted to destroy those clichés a bit," said Philibert. Everyday life on the ship, which is also unusual in terms of architecture, is shown with great respect and affection for all people.

Philibert is always cautious, whether he lets sick or healthy people talk, interviews them or silently observes them. With a respectful distance, he gets extremely close to the people on the "Adamant". The camera allows him to cross a certain threshold, said Philibert, to overcome his own fears and difficulties. "We all have difficulties approaching others, and the camera helps me."

When it was announced that his film would win the Golden Bear, Philibert came on stage and asked, "Are you crazy or what?" He was honored and proud, he said. In the film, they didn't always make a clear distinction between patients and people who worked at Adamant. "And that's good." He wants to change the discriminatory image that people have of supposedly crazy people. He also wanted to show what connects us despite all the differences - something like a common humanity, the feeling of being part of the same world. "As we all know, the craziest people aren't the ones we think they are."

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