As the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival drew to a close, “On the Adamant,” a documentary by French director Nicolas Philibert, Ann intimate look at the patients and caregivers in mental health centre located on the Seine River, has won the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival’s Golden Bear for best film.
This year’s Berlin jury was headed by Kristen Stewart, and the selections promised to reflect the actress’ choices in movies. But a carefully selected lineup featuring a variety of innovative films around the globe. From a timely documentary about the war in Ukraine to a variety of dramas, the eclectic collection of films had something for everyone.
At last year’s festival, Carla Simon’s Spanish Drama “Alcarras” won the coveted Golden Bear. Several of the biggest names in global cinema also walked away with big prizes, as Claire Denis won the Silver Bear for Best Director for “Both Sides of the Blade” and Hong Sang-soo won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize for “The Novelist’s Film.”
This year’s jury gave the Golden Bear award to the French documentary “On the Adamant.” Stewart praised the film for expanding the jury’s understanding of what constitutes art. The Silver Bear for Best Director went to Philippe Garrel for “The Plough,” while the Silver Bear for Best Lead Performance notably went to child star Sofia Otero for “20,000 Species of Bees.”
For Philibert’s eleventh feature, “On the Adamant,” the 72-year-old Philibert spent months aboard a barge anchored on the Seine in Paris, chronicling a mental health care facility that caters specifically to its patients’ creative needs.
“I don’t like partitions or labels,” Philibert said, “in this film on psychiatry we were always [careful] to not always distinguish very clearly between patients and carers. I tried to reverse the image we always have of mad people [which I see] as discriminating and stigmatizing. I wanted us to be able, if not to identify with them, at least to recognize what unites us beyond our differences.”
Sofía Otero, who plays a 8-year-old who begins to transition in Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren’s 20,000 Species of Bees,” has become the youngest-ever winner of the Berlin International Film Festival’s Silver Bear for best leading performance.
This year’s festival also saw Steven Spielberg make the trip to Berlin to accept the honorary Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement. He delivered a passionate acceptance speech, “If this honor means that my work has found a home in Germany, then tonight, I feel like I’m home too,” Spielberg said (via Variety). “This honor has particular meaning for me because I’m a Jewish director. I’d like to believe that this is a small moment in a much larger, ongoing effort of healing the broken places of history – what Jews call Tikkun Olam, the repairing and restoring of the world.”
Keep reading for the complete list of winners from the 2023 Berlin Film Festival.
Golden Bear – “On the Adamant,” Nicolas Philibert
Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize – “Afire,” Christian Petzold
Silver Bear Jury Prize – “Bad Living,” João Canijo
Silver Bear for Best Director – “The Plough,” Philippe Garrel
Silver Bear for Best Lead Performance – “20,000 Species of Bees,” Sofia Otero
Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance – “Till the End of the Night,” Thea Ehre
Silver Bear for Best Screenplay – “Music,” Angela Schanelec
Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution – Disco Boy,” Hélène Louvart, cinematography
Best Film – “Here,” Bas Devos
Best Director – “The Echo,” Tatiana Huezo
Special Jury Award – “Orlando, My Political Biography,” Paul B. Preciado; “Samsara,” Lois Patino
Best Documentary – “The Echo,” Tatiana Huezo
Documentary Special Mention – “Orlando, My Political Biography,” Paul B. Preciado
Best First Feature – “The Klezmer Project,” Leandro Koch, Paloma Schahmann
Berlinale Shorts winners:
Golden Bear – “Les Chenilles,” Michelle Keserwany, Noel Keserwany
Silver Bear – “Dipped in Black,” Matthew Thorne, Derik Lynch
Special Mention – “It’s a Date,” Nadia Parfan