74th International Film Festival Berlin

15.02.2024 to 25.02.2024

The Ecumenical Berlinale Jury at the award ceremony with the main actors of the Iranian winner in the international competition (My Favourite Cake), Esmail Mehrabi and Lily Farhadpour, the president of the Ecumenical Jury, Sr. Francesca Šimuniova, at the microphone, and the members of the jury (from left) Marta Romanova-Jekabsone, S. Brent Rodriguez-Plate, Anita Nemes, Karin Becker and Jacques Champeaux

The Iranian film "Keyke mahboobe man" (My Favourite Cake) by Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha has won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury for a film in the International Competition at the 74th Berlinale. The film was also awarded by the Jury of International Film Critics (Fipresci). The Golden Bear went to the documentary film "Dahomey" by French director Mati Diop, whose family comes from Senegal. The Grand Jury Prize went to "Yeohaengjaui pilyo" (A Traveller's Needs) by Hong Sangsoo.

In Panorama, the Ecumenical Jury honoured the Norwegian film "Sex" by Dag Johan Haugerud, which also received the prizes of the two cinema associations CICAE (Confédération Internationale des Cinémas d'Art et d'Essai) and Label Europa Cinemas. In the Forum, the jury awarded its prize to the Latvian-Lithuanian co-production "Marijas klusums" (Maria's Silence) by Dāvis Sīmanis and a Special Mention to "Intercepted" by Oksana Karpovych, a documentary montage about the war in Ukraine. The Fipresci Prize in Panorama went to "Faruk" by Aslı Özge (Germany, Turkey, France 2024) and in Forum to "The Human Hibernation" (Spain 2024) by Anna Cornudella Castro.

The festival opened on 15 February with the film "Small Things Like These" by Tim Mielants (Ireland, Belgium 2024), which tells of the repressive treatment of non-marital pregnancy by the Catholic Church in Ireland until almost the end of the 20th century. The number of films screened has been reduced from 287 (2023) to 236, and the "Perspektive Deutsches Kino" series has been dropped. In addition to the International Competition, the Panorama and the Forum, where the Ecumenical Jury awards its prizes, there are the sections Berlinale Special, Encounters, Forum Expanded, Berlinale Shorts and Generation, the Retrospective and the Berlinale Classics with digitally restored films. It's the last Berlinale for Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian and Managing Director Mariëtte Rissenbeek, who were appointed to succeed Dieter Kosslick in 2019. Special honours this year went to Martin Scorsese, who received an Honorary Golden Bear, and Edgar Reitz, who was awarded a Golden Camera.

Link: Festival website


My Favourite Cake

The filmmakers of My Favorite Cake show us how paradise can be created in your own backyard. It requires a little laughing, drinking, dancing, and, of course, eating cake. Yet it also needs a strong dose of resistance and the courage to move beyond the confining patterns of social and political life. While this small story is in Iran, it offers promises for connection and joy to anyone anywhere  late in life.  (Photo: Hamid Janipour)

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Sex is a film about sex and gender, though no sex is shown. The filmmakers demonstrate how honesty and intimacy are vital to human relationships. Through slow pacing and humorous conversations the film focuses our attention on the nuances of our social constructions of gender and sex, and more importantly, of love. One protagonist talks about people who make the world smaller and those who make it larger. The movie "Sex" definitely makes it larger. (Photo: © Motlys)

Maria's Silence
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This black and white film relates the real story of silent film actress Maria Leiko travelling from Germany to Soviet Russia and trapped by the regime. Maria and the Latvian theatre company in which she was enrolled become victims of the massive purges of this period. The jury appreciated the transformation of the main character who witnessed the evils of the system and eventually decided on choosing silence as a form of resistance against outrageous violence. (Photo: © Mistrus Media)

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Conversations between Russian soldiers and their families were intercepted by Ukrainian army. In this documentary, Director Oksana Karpovych confronts recordings of those conversations with images of destroyed Ucrainian houses and villages. That confrontation creates a collision and a striking portrayal of war. (Foto: © Christopher Nunn)

More about the festival

In his report about the Forum section of the Berlinale 2024 Karsten Visarius focusses on documentaries as Romuald Karmakar's "The Invisible Zoo" and Alexander Horwath's "Henry Fonda for President", mentioning a number of outstanding feature films as well.
The Berlinale is more political than Cannes or Venice. Many of the films dealt with the war in Ukraine, the Palestinian question, oppression in Iran, young men going off to fight the jihad, and Iranian and Syrian refugees. Jacques Champeaux, INTERFILM member and member of the ecumenical jury in Berlin 2024, reports about the festival.
Peter Paul Huth reports on the closing of the Berlinale 2024.
Peter Paul Huth comments on documentary films from the Berlinale on Ukraine and Palestine.
Peter Paul Huth continues his coverage of the Berlinale 2024