Berlinale Winners

Alongside Cannes and Venice, the Berlinale is one of the most important film festivals and is regarded as one of the world's most important events in the film industry. We're happy to present a selection of films that were awarded in past editions at the Berlinale.

2022: Golden Bear
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Radu Jude
Romania
106′
Emi, a school teacher, 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.
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2021: Golden Bear
Rabiye Kurnaz gegen George W. Bush
Andreas Dresen
Germany
118′
Rabiye Kurnaz is someone you might generally call an ordinary woman, except that she is a real dynamo. Taking care of her children and much more, she is the one running the show in her terraced house in Bremen. Shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, her son Murat is accused of terrorism and is (one of the first) shipped off to Guantanamo prison camp. This marks the beginning of a journey into the heart of world politics for this resolute German-Turkish woman. Together with human rights lawyer Bernhard Docke, whom she soon has completely on her side (like almost everyone around her), she battles for the release of her son – using her very own brand of self-taught English – all the way to the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Cologne-based comedienne, author, presenter and much more Meltem Kaptan is the perfect fit for Andreas Dresen’s special talent for combining explosive topics (in this case based on actual events) and the everyday concerns of the average citizen. Kaptan’s, or rather Rabiye’s, performance is overwhelming, and not just for the lawyer (played by Alexander Scheer) who quickly becomes a friend. A portrait of a passionate woman who holds the steering wheel of her beloved vehicle as firmly in her hand as she does the reins in this turbo-charged film.
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2022: Silver Bear
So Long, My Son
Xiaoshuai Wang
China
185′
‘We’re waiting to grow old’. This sentence briefly sums up Yaoyun and his wife Liyun’s bitter realisation about their lives. They were once a happy family – until their son drowned playing by a reservoir. And so Yaojun and Liyun leave their home and plunge into the big city, although nobody knows them there and they cannot even understand the local dialect. Their adopted son Liu Xing does not offer them the comfort they had hoped for either. Defiantly rejecting his ‘foreign’ parents, he one day disappears altogether. The married couple are repeatedly enmeshed in their memories. Finally, they decide to return to the site of their lost hopes. In this family saga spanning three decades of Chinese history, the private and the political merge and the individual gets caught up in the gears of a society in the throes of constant change. Part melodrama, part critique of the times, this film takes us from the country’s upheaval in the 1980s following the Cultural Revolution to the prospering turbo-capitalism of the present day. Told in sweeping tableaux, it makes visible the deep scars that lie beneath the surface of an ostensibly unbroken success story.
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2019: Silver Bear for Best Actress, Silver Bear for Best Actor
45 Years
Andrew Haigh
United Kingdom
95′
In the week leading up to their 45th wedding anniversary, the Mercers’ get news that causes a crisis in their marriage. The remains of a woman have been found in the Swiss Alps; the body is Katya, Geoff’s former girlfriend, who died in an accident on the glacier 50 years ago. Geoff’s wife Kate is unnerved as she realises that her husband still clings to memories of the dead woman, worrying that she was never more than “second choice”. When Kate looks through stuff Geoff has stored in the attic, she discovers his secret … Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay deliver confident performances in this story of how a crack in faraway, seemingly permanent ice can shatter the tectonics of a marriage that appears completely intact on the surface. With few words and almost imperceptible gestures, they reveal Kate and Geoff standing at the edge of an abyss. The actors’ nuanced portrayals of an ageing couple questioning a relationship that has lasted almost half a century, and struggling to reassure themselves of its future, were rewarded with Silver Bears for acting at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival.
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2015: Silver Bear for Best Actress, Silver Bear for Best Actor
Avec amour et acharnement
Claire Denis
France
112′
Sara and Jean have been in a loving, stable relationship for ten years. They are happy. He is her rock, someone she can hold on to. When they first met, Sara was in a relationship with François, Jean’s best friend. One day, Sara sees François on the street. He does not see her, but she is overwhelmed by a sensation that her life could suddenly change. François does indeed get in touch with Jean to suggest that they work together again. Before long, things are in danger of spiralling out of control. "Avec amour et acharnement" is Claire Denis’s third collaboration with acclaimed writer Christine Angot, with whom she wrote "Un beau soleil intérieur", which also starred Juliette Binoche. In a performance that is just as brave and committed, the actor proves to be exceptionally supple as her body becomes the terrain for a captivating theatre of emotional opposites. Eric Gautier’s precise cinematography shows us contrasting images of fingers comfortably intertwined, but also Sara’s entire body in forward motion, erupting in deep, uncontrollable moans. Encircled by a wall of passionate flames, Denis’s protagonists appear to be under siege, seemingly oblivious to society and its inexorable tendency to separate all things into opposing categories.
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2022: Silver Bear for Best Director
The Hidden Fortress (1958)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
138′
In 16th-century Japan, two rival clans wage war against each other. Two poor, greedy peasants try to bypass the front lines and return home. Stumbling across a piece of gold hanging from a tree, they are convinced they are on the trail of the vanquished clan's treasure. In their hunt for the loot, they are surprised by a man who is none other than General Rokurota (Toshiro Mifune). They follow the same route, but it is fraught with pitfalls, as the two peasants only manage to make mistakes in their haste to escape with the gold. Kurosawa's first film produced in CinemaScope, it was primarily aimed at the general public, recounting an epic adventure with plenty of humor and gags. Kurosawa was determined to make this film a success so that he could go on to make more personal films and while it's certainly the most mainstream film he ever made, its quality is on a par with that of his other works. "The Hidden Fortress" gained new notoriety after George Lucas revealed that he had drawn inspiration from it for "Star Wars" by telling a story from the point of view of the weaker characters (in this case, the peasants who become the two droids in Lucas' film).
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1959: Silver Bear for Best Director
Tótem
Lila Avilés
Mexico
95′
Seven-year-old Sol spends the day at her grandfather’s home, helping her aunts Nuri and Alejandra with the preparations for a surprise party they are throwing for Sol’s father, Tonatiuh. As daylight fades, a strange and chaotic atmosphere takes over, shattering the bonds that hold a family together. Sol will come to understand that her world is about to change dramatically, embracing the essence of letting go and cherishing the breath of life.
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2023: Prize of the Ecumenical Jury
Unrueh
Cyril Schäublin
Switzerland
93′
New technologies are transforming a 19th-century watchmaking town in Switzerland. Josephine, a young factory worker, produces the unrest wheel, swinging in the heart of the mechanical watch. Exposed to new ways of organizing money, time and labour, she gets involved with the local movement of the anarchist watchmakers, where she meets Russian traveller Pyotr Kropotkin.
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2022: Encounters Award - Best Director
I'm Your Man
Maria Schrader
Germany
103′
Alma is a scientist at Berlin's famous Pergamon Museum. In order to obtain research funds for her studies, she accepts an offer to participate in an extraordinary experiment. For three weeks, she must live with a humanoid robot with artificial intelligence designed to allow it to morph into that of her ideal life partner. Enter Tom, a machine in human form, created to make her happy.
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2021: Silver Bear
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Japan
121′
As with the rest of his oeuvre, duplication and mirroring of female characters once again informs Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s latest work, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy. It would not be out of place to make a literary analogy and, if one were to regard his two previous films (Drive my Car, Asako I & II) as novels, this new work could be described as a collection of short stories. The film’s recurring rhythm amplifies this effect. The three episodes, which each revolve around a woman, are in turn divided into three movements, like a piece of music. They tell stories of an unexpected love triangle, a failed seduction trap, and an encounter that results from a misunderstanding. The fragmentation serves to emphasise rather than undermine the exquisitely organic storytelling and mise en scène. Although most of the action takes place in a single space and involves just two actors, not once does it feel like filmed theatre. The secret lies not only in the writing, but also in the notion of a more complex temporality in each episode that flirts with science fiction in the final instalment. The moments we witness are crystallised into touching universal destinies marked by choices, regrets, deception and coincidences. They are the film’s true protagonists.
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2021: Silver Bear
Before, Now & Then
Kamila Andini
Indonesia
103′
The 1960s in Indonesia were a period of dramatic political change and turmoil, with Suharto’s coup ousting Sukarno and leading to a violent anti-communist purge. Nana, a gentle, beautiful young woman, has been badly affected by the conflict. Her husband was kidnapped and taken into the forest. Although she managed to escape from the gang leader who wanted to force her to marry him, the incident cost her father his life and drove her into poverty. Several years later, she is living comfortably as the second wife of a rich Sundanese man, with a maid to help her adjust to her new environment. But Nana’s past re-emerges in her dreams. Kamila Andini’s elegant direction effectively adopts her protagonist’s point of view, integrating her trauma into the film’s narration. Played with subtlety by Happy Salma, the secretive Nana seems never quite certain about her husband’s death and her memories are, perhaps for her own good, not always complete. This ambiguity informs the film and, combined with lush cinematography and a deep sense of nostalgia, makes Nana an elegiac wonder. At its heart lies an unexpected female friendship that feels like a crucial lifeline among the sea of adversities caused by men’s brutality.
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2022: Silver Bear
Introduction
Hong Sang-soo
South Korea
66′
Youngho tries to find a way between his dream of becoming an actor and his parents' expectations. While his girlfriend leaves to study in Berlin, the young man sees the opportunity for a fresh start.
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2021: Silver Bear for Best Script
The Other Side of Hope
Aki Kaurismäki
Finland
100′
A poker-playing restaurateur and former traveling salesman befriends a group of refugees newly arrived to Finland.
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2017: Silver Bear
Taxi Teheran
Jafar Panahi
Iran
81′
A yellow cab is driving through the vibrant and colourful streets of Tehran. Very diverse passengers enter the taxi, each candidly expressing their views while being interviewed by the driver who is no one else but the director Jafar Panahi himself. His camera placed on the dashboard of his mobile film studio captures the spirit of Iranian society through this comedic and dramatic drive…
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2015: Golden Bear
1953: Bronze Berlin Bear
The Milk of Sorrow (2009)
Claudia Llosa
Peru
94′
When her mother dies, Fausta is forced to face her fears, that she got as ababy with the milk of her mother. Fausta now sets out on a journey - a journey that will lead her out of her fear and into freedom. Peruvian director Claudia Llosa’s film addresses a dark era of her country’s history. It won the Golden Bear in Berlin and was nominated for the Oscars in 2010.
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2009: Golden Bear for Best Film
with bonus
Bal - honey
Semih Kaplanoglu
Turkey
100′
Six-year-old Yusuf has just begun attending primary school where he is learning how to read and write. His father, Yakup, is a beekeeper. He goes about his trade deep inside the woods where he hangs up his bee hives in the treetops of the highest trees. The mountain forest is a place of deep mystery to Yusuf and he derives great pleasure from accompanying his father there. One morning Yusuf tells his father about a dream he had the night before. Yakup turns on him curtly telling him never to share his dreams with others. The same day, Yusuf is asked to read out a text in front of the class. He suddenly begins to stutter and he is laughed at by the rest of the class. One day the bees suddenly disappear, throwing into question the family’s means of earning a living. Yakup decides to set off for the remote mountains. But no sooner has he left, than Yusuf stops speaking. His mother Zehra, who works on a tea plantation, suffers a great deal on ac count of her son’s sudden loss of speech, but is unable to persuade him to speak. The days pass - and still Yakup does not return. Mother and son begin to worry. Yusuf goes to his grandmother’s place in a neighbouring village where he spends the magical night during which the prophet’s arrival is celebrated. When he hears the story of the prophet he is convinced that his father, with whom he identifies the holy man, will come home again. Yusuf and his mother set off on a fruitless search for signs of his father’s whereabouts after which Yusuf decides to continue the search for his father on his own. His is a journey into the unknown. Will the dream he had be - come reality?
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2010: Golden Bear
Grâce à dieu
François Ozon
France
138′
Alexandre lives in Lyon with his wife and children. One day, he discovered by chance that the priest who abused him to scouts always officiates with children. He then starts a fight, quickly joined by François and Emmanuel, also victims of the priest, to "release their word" on what they suffered.
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2019: Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize
A Separation
Asghar Farhadi
Iran
123′
Simin wants to leave Iran with her husband Nader and daughter Termeh. She has already made all the necessary arrangements. Nader, however, is having second thoughts. He is worried about leaving behind his father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. For this reason he decides to call off the trip altogether. As a result of Nader’s decision, Simin decides to sue for divorce at the family court. When her request is rejected, however, she refuses to live with Nader, moving instead into her parents’ home. Termeh decides to stay with her father, hoping that her mother will soon come back to live with them.Nader finds it difficult to cope with the new situation - not least because it turns out to be so time-consuming. And so he hires a young woman named Razieh to look after his father. This young woman is pregnant and has accepted the job without her husband’s knowledge. One day, Nader arrives home to find that not only has his father been left alone, he has also been tied to a table! When Razieh returns, a blazing row ensues, the tragic consequences of which not only shatter Nader’s life, but also the image his daughter Termeh has of her father.
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2011: Golden Bear for Best Film, Silver Bear for Best Actress, Silver Bear for Best Actor
On Body and Soul
Ildiko Enyedi
Hungary
116′
Two introverted people find out by pure chance that they share the same dream every night. They are puzzled, incredulous, a bit frightened. As they hesitantly accept this strange coincidence, they try to recreate in broad daylight what happens in their dream.
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2017: Golden Bear
Supa Modo
Likarion Wainaina
Kenya
74′
Jo, a witty 9-year old terminally ill girl is taken back to her rural village to live out the rest of her short life. Her only comfort during these dull times are her dreams of being a Superhero, which prove to be something her rebellious teenage sister Mwix, overprotective mother Kathryn and the entire village of Maweni think they can fulfill.
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2018: Children's Jury Special Mention
with bonus
Félicité
Alain Gomis
Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa)
124′
Félicité is a proud and independent woman who works as a singer in a bar in Kinshasa. Whenever she goes on stage, she appears to leave the world and her everyday worries behind. Her audiences are quickly infected by the rhythm of her music and her powerful, melancholy melodies. But then one day Félicité’s son has a terrible accident. Whilst he is in hospital she desperately tries to raise the money needed for his operation. A breathless tour through the impoverished streets and the wealthier districts of the Congolese capital ensues. One of the bar’s regulars is a man named Tabu who has been known to get carried away in every sense of the term. Tabu offers to help Félicité. Reluctantly, she accepts. After his spell in hospital, Félicité’s son has a hard time picking up his old life, but it is lady’s man Tabu of all people who manages to coax him out of his shell. Félicité’s sparsely furnished flat with its permanently defunct fridge becomes a mini utopia in a country that holds no hope for most of its population. The trio forms an eccentric community thrown together by fate, each of whom is free to go their separate ways together.
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2017: Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize
Summer 1993
Carla Simón
Spain
98′
After her mother's death, six-year-old Frida is sent to her uncle's family to live with them in the countryside. But Frida finds it hard to forget her mother and adapt to her new life.
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2017: Best First Feature Award
An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker
Danis Tanović
Bosnia and Herzegovina
74′
A Roma family living far away from the urban centres of Bosnia- Herzegovina. The father Nazif salvages metal from old cars and sells it to a scrap-dealer. The mother Senada keeps the house tidy, cooks, bakes and cares for their two small daughters. One day, she feels a sharp pain in her abdomen. At the clinic she is told there is something wrong with the baby she is carrying: "They say it’s dead." She is at risk of septicaemia and they must operate immediately. But Senada has no medical insurance; since the operation will cost much more than the family can afford the hospital’s head refuses to treat her. A race against time and Senada’s mounting sense of hopelessness begins ... Danis Tanović weaves these dramatic events, his protagonists’ economic hardship and fear of death into a wintery tale. The fact that the non-professional cast are re-enacting an episode from their own lives contributes greatly to the film’s sense of authenticity and social realism. At the same time, the film demonstrates one Roma family’s extraordinary courage and unerring will to survive.
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2013: Jury Grand Prix (Silver Bear), Award for Best Actor (Silver Bear)
2013: Award for Best Actress (Silver Bear)
About Elly (2009)
Asghar Farhadi
Iran
114′
After having spent many years in Germany, Ahmad returns to his native Iran for a holiday. His friends from his student days organise a three-day break on the Caspian Sea. One of the party, a fun-loving woman named Sepideh takes the matter in hand. Unbeknown to the rest of the group, she has also invited a young woman named Elly, who is a nursery school teacher at her daughter’s kindergarten. Ahmad has just emerged from an unhappy marriage and is now divorced from his German wife. He would very much like to begin a new life with an Iranian woman. His friends are aware of his desire and it gradually dawns on them that this is why Sepideh has asked Elly to accompany them on their trip. The others all begin to lavish their attentions on Elly, singing her prai - ses unequivocally. But then, on the second day of their holiday, something happens and Elly disappears. All at once their light-hearted mood evaporates. The friends begin to agonise about the whys and wherefores of Elly’s disappearance, bringing to an abrupt end the sense of harmony that once pervaded their get-together. They contact Elly’s parents, but when they learn that they have no news of Elly’s whereabouts their anxiety begins to turn into panic. Carefully, the friends begin to go over the conversations of the previous day and their phone calls to Elly’s relatives, trying to identify a moment that could give them a lead. Finally, they blame Sepideh for having invited Elly in the first place and ruining their holiday. During the course of just two days, their opinion of Elly has turned about face. Until, on the last day of their holiday, the truth emerges.
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2009: Silver Bear for Best Director
In den Gängen
Thomas Stuber
Germany
120′
Christian, a reclusive young man from Leipzig, gets a job working the night shift at a big-box store. He's trained to stocks goods and operate a forklift by Bruno, a wistful former truck driver, who introduces Christian to a colorful group of overnight workers, including Marion, with whom Christian develops a troubled infatuation.
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Prize of the Ecumenical Jury 2018
The Heiresses
Marcelo Martinessi
Paraguay
98′
Chela and Chiquita have been a couple for a very long time. Over the years they have become adapted to a fixed allocation of roles. Extroverted Chiquita is responsible for managing their life together. Chela on the other hand is reluctant to leave the house, preferring to spend the day at her easel. Financial difficulties force them to sell some of their inherited furniture, each part of which is a beloved piece of memorabilia. When Chiquita is sent to prison for debt, Chela is suddenly left on her own. She uses her old Daimler to provide a taxi service to wealthy older ladies in the neighbourhood. In her new role as chauffeur, she meets one of these ladies’ daughters – the young and life-affirming Angy. The encounter lures the rather passive Chela out of her reserve and helps her rediscover her own desires. Exploring the outside world as tentatively and carefully as its heroine, the film increasingly trains its gaze on a social strata that is strangely cut-off from reality and lives without a thought for tomorrow. However, when Chela visits her girlfriend in prison, a completely different picture emerges of conditions in Paraguay.
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2018: Silver Berlin Bear