Berlinale 2021 winners: The full list
Film critics, directors and producers alike took to their couches and grabbed their popcorn as they gathered for the 71st edition of the Berlin International Film Festival.
The festival, most commonly known as Berlinale, hosted its first entirely virtual event from 1st to 5th March exclusively for industry experts and the press. But movie buffs need not to worry because a special summer edition will take place between 9th and 20th June, so catching up on all the nominated films – as well as a few extras that didn’t take part in the online screenings – will be possible.
From raunchy coming-of-age dramas to tear-jerking cinematic masterpieces, this year’s wide variety of pictures and competitive sections made for a captivating, albeit strange, festival.
Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn) turned heads with its peculiar name and equally innovative production, and took home this year’s Golden Bear for Best Film in the Competition category.
In it, school teacher Emi finds her career and reputation under threat after a personal sex tape is leaked on the Internet. Forced to meet the parents demanding her dismissal, Emi refuses to surrender to their pressure. The feature showcases director Radu Jude’s carefully crafted melange of nonchalantly precise camerawork, manic humour and unconventional contemporary cinema.
The International Jury called it “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.”
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (Guzen to sozo) by Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi won Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize. The film, featuring an unexpected love triangle, a failed seduction trap and an encounter that results from a misunderstanding, is told in three movements to depict three female characters and trace the trajectories between their choices and regrets.
Mr Bachmann and His Class (Herr Bachmann und seine Klasse) by German director Maria Speth won Silver Bear Jury Prize. The documentary-style film tells the story of a genial teacher Dieter Bachmann, who tries to make his pupils feel like they are home in Stadtallendorf, a German city with a complex history of both excluding and integrating foreigners.
Natural Light (Dénes Nagy for Természetes fény) by Hungarian director Dénes Nagy won Silver Bear for Best Director. The film, set in occupied Soviet Union during World War II, tells the story of István Semetka, a simple Hungarian farmer who has to overcome his fears and take command of his special unit as he is dragged into a chaos that he cannot control, after his company falls under enemy fire.
German actress Maren Eggert took home the Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance for her role in I’m Your Man (Ich bin dein Mensch) by Maria Schrader. Her character Alma is a researcher with the Pergamon museum in Berlin and agrees to take part in a trial for a cutting-edge android in exchange for access to research funds. She is paired with sophisticated humanoid robot Tom (Dan Stevens) who is designed to become her ideal partner, and the two begin to fall for each other in this sci-fi premise rom-com.
Lilla Kizlinger won Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance for her role in Forest – I See You Everywhere (Rengeteg – mindenhol látlak) by director Bence Fliegauf. The cryptic Hungarian drama follows seven hypnotic and erratic fugue-like miniatures; though seemingly harmless at the beginning, they become increasingly intense until they culminate in a psychological kaleidoscope.
South Korean director and screenwriter Hong Sangsoo won Silver Bear for Best Screenplay for Introduction (Inteurodeoksyeon). The black-and-white poetic drama follows the trials and tribulations of a young man who travels from South Korea to Berlin to surprise his girlfriend.
The Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution was awarded to Yibrán Asuad for his editing of A Cop Movie (Una película de policías), the documentary-form film by Alonso Ruizpalacios. The film tackles underlying corruption and challenges of modern police work in Mexico City, presented masterfully and daringly through Asuad’s editing.
Prior to the Competition section, programmer Florence Almozini (France), artistic director Cecilia Barrionuevo (Argentina), as well as author and critic Diedrich Diederichsen (Germany) announced the winners of this year’s Encounter section.
Best Film was awarded We (Nous) by Alice Diop. The documentary filmmaker threads together the lives and stories of ordinary Parisians in this delicately crafted portrait of we – society.
Taste (Vị) by Vietnamese director Lê Bảo won the Special Jury Award. The fearlessly composed film tells the story of a Nigerian man in Ho Chi Minh City.
Best Director (ex-aequo) was awarded to Ramon Zürcher and Silvan Zürcher for The Girl and the Spider (Das Mädchen und die Spinne). As Lisa moves out of the apartment she has shared with Mara and into the one where she will live alone, many things will break and some will be repaired. The film is a tragicomic catastrophe film, a poetic ballad about change and transience.
Social Hygiene (Hygiène sociale)’s Denis Côté won Best Director (ex-aequo). The playful and historically referenced film follows Antonin, who has a way with words that could have made him a famous writer, but instead mostly serves to get him out of trouble.
Fern Silva also received a Special Mention in this category for his first feature-length film about Hawaiian volcanoes, Rock Bottom Riser.
On 4th March, the Generation category’s International Jury announced the Generation Kplus and 14plus awards. The jury was made up of actress Jella Haase (Germany), director Mees Peijnenburg (Netherlands) and director/writer Melanie Waelde (Germany).
Grand Prix for the Best Film (Kplus) – Summer Blur (Han Nan Xia Ri) by Han Shuai
Special Mention – A School in Cerro Hueso (Una escuela en Cerro Hueso) by Betania Cappato
Grand Prix for the Best Film (14plus) – The Fam (La Mif) by Fred Baillif
Special Mention – Cryptozoo by Dash Shaw
The International Short Film Jury, including Egyptian artist Basim Magdy, Austrian cinematographer Christine A. Maier and German actor Sebastian Urzendowsky awarded the following films for the Short Film category.
Golden Bear for Best Short Film – My Uncle Tudor (Nanu Tudor) by Olga Lucovnicova
Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film) – Day is Done (Xia Wu Guo Qu Le Yi Ban) by Zhang Dalei
Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards – Easter Eggs by Nicolas Keppens
Despite having to swap suits and ties for onesies and slippers, it’s fair to say that this year’s Berlinale virtual festival was a success. Journalists were able to focus on the films more intently, jump between screenings with a click of the mouse, and avoid the logistical hurdles of long queues, delayed interviews and overlapping films. It stripped back the film festival down to its bare entity, appreciation and interpretation of the art of cinema.
As much as our writers missed the unparalleled ambience and experience of being at a film festival, a healthy balance between online and on-site screenings from now on might not be such a bad idea after all.
The Berlinale 2021 Competition winners:
Golden Bear for Best Film: Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn) by Radu Jude
Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize: Guzen to sozo (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy) by Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Silver Bear Jury Prize: Herr Bachmann und seine Klasse (Mr Bachmann and His Class) by Maria Speth
Silver Bear for Best Director: Dénes Nagy for Természetes fény (Natural Light)
Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance: Maren Eggert in Ich bin dein Mensch (I’m Your Man) by Maria Schrader
Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance: Lilla Kizlinger in Rengeteg – mindenhol látlak (Forest –
See You Everywhere) by Bence Fliegauf
Silver Bear for Best Screenplay: Hong Sangsoo for Inteurodeoksyeon (Introduction) by Hong Sangsoo
Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution: Yibrán Asuad for the editing of Una película de policías (A Cop Movie) by Alonso Ruizpalacios
The Berlinale 2021 Encounters winners:
Best Film: Nous (We) by Alice Diop
Special Jury Award: Vị (Taste) by Lê Bảo
Best Director (ex-aequo): Das Mädchen und die Spinne (The Girl and the Spider) by Ramon Zürcher, Silvan Zürcher
Best Director (ex-aequo): Hygiène sociale (Social Hygiene) by Denis Côté
Special Mention: Rock Bottom Riser by Fern Silva
The Berlinale 2021 Generation winners:
Grand Prix for the Best Film in the Generation Kplus competition: Han Nan Xia Ri (Summer Blur) by Han Shuai
Special Mention:Una escuela en Cerro Hueso (A school in Cerro Hueso) by Betania Cappat
Grand Prix for the Best Film in the Generation 14plus competition: La Mif (The Fam) by Fred Baillif
Special Mention: Cryptozoo by Dash Shaw.