69th International Film Festival Berlin

07.02.2019 to 17.02.2019

Honorary Award to festival director Dieter Kosslick, from left: INTERFILM President Julia Helmke, Dieter Kosslick, Ecumenical Jury President Anna Grebe

"God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya" by Teona Strugar Mitevska, a film from North Macedonia, is the winner of the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury in the International Competition. In the Forum, the Jury awarded the Austrian documentary "Erde" (Earth) by Nikolaus Geyrhalter, and in the Panorama they choose "Buoyancy", an Aiustralian production dircetd by Rodd Rathjen. In addition, the Jury awarded a Commendation to the Panorama entry "Midnight Traveler" by Hassan Fazili.

The international jury with Jury President Juliette Binoche awarded the Golden Bear to the film "Synonymes" by Israeli director Nadav Lapid. Other awards include "Grâce à Dieu" (By the Grace of God) by François Ozon about hushed up cases of children's abuse in the Catholic Church of France currently heard at court in Lyon (Silver Bear, Jury Grand Prix), "Systemsprenger" (System Crasher), a debut film by Nora Fingerscheidt (Silver Bear, Alfred Bauer Prize), and the second out of three German competition entries, "Ich war zuhause, aber" (I was at home, but) by Angela Schanelec (Silver Bear, Best Director). The favorite of the audience and critics, Wang Xiaoshuai's Chinese competition entry "Di jiu tian chang" (So Long, My Son) won the two performance awards. The Silver Bear for Best Actress went to Yong Mei, the one for Best Actor to Wang Jingchun.

At February 7, the Danish-Canadian co-production "The Kindness of Strangers" by Lone Scherfig opened the Berlinale in 2019. The director, who comes from within the scope of the Dogma Group, has been a guest of the festival several times. It was the last Berlinale under the direction of Dieter Kosslick, which the church film organizations INTERFILM and SIGNIS honored at the Ecumenical Reception of the Churches on February 10 with an honorary award.

The Ecumenical Jury has been in existence since 1992. The first church jury, sent in 1954 by the Office catholique internationale de cinéma (OCIC), was established when the Bears were awarded by a public vote. It was not until 1956 that two international juries (for feature and documentary films) were appointed by the festival. The first Protestant INTERFILM jury awarded their prize in 1963 to the American film "Lilies of the Field" by Ralph Nelson.

Link: Festival website

See also the Pro-Fil-website of the festival with articles about films of the Berlinale (in french)


God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya
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The Ecumenical Jury awards the modern day parable: "Gospod postoi, imeto i’ e Petrunija (God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya)" for its daring portrayal of the transformation of a disempowered young woman into an outspoken defender of women’s rights. When Petrunya spontaneously joins in an Orthodox Church ritual for young men by catching a cross thrown into a river by a priest, she breaks church and social traditions. Her initial refusal to return the cross unleashes her inner strength in the face of institutional conventions and reveals God within her. (Photo:
© sistersandbrothermitevski)

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The Ecumenical Jury awards "Earth" for its depiction of the devastation of our planet by human intervention – an issue of urgent concern today. This documentary depicts searing images of the destruction of Earth’s topography and candid conversations with workers, engineers, and scientists. The jury commends the lamentation for Mother Earth spoken by an aboriginal Canadian woman at the conclusion of the film, which is an invitation to reflect on our responsibility. (Photo: © Nikolaus Geyrhalter Filmproduktion)

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The film is an interrogation of modern-day slavery and a uniquely harrowing coming-of-age tale. Rodd Rathjen's exquisitely crafted debut feature follows a 14-year-old rural Cambodian boy as he sets off to escape his family's poverty, but is enslaved aboard a Thai fishing trawler. Squalor and cruelty threaten to crush his spirit, yet he finds the self-preserving courage to break the chains. By exposing brutal reality through its tightly-woven narrative, this artistic call to action sheds necessary light on much-overlooked human rights abuses at the heart of our global economy. (Photo: © Rafael Winer)

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The Ecumenical Jury awards a Commendation to "Midnight Traveler" for its singular depiction of the refugee experience. By chronicling his family’s flight from Afghanistan solely through footage from three mobile phones, Fazili’s film adds urgency and immediacy to the worldwide migration crisis. His raw and endearing images, deepened by his wife and daughters’ determined spirits, reveal hopeful humanity and enduring love in the midst of constant motion. (Photo: © Old Chilly Pictures)

More about the festival

Kristine Greenaway, member of the Ecumenical Jury in Berlin 2019, reflects on the cultural background of the Canadian competition entry "Répertoire des villes disparues" by Denis Coté