At the 67th Berlin International Film Festival (9-19 February 2017) the Ecumenical Jury made the following awards.
The Prize in the International Competition went to Teströl és lélekröl (On Body and Soul) directed by Ildikó Enyedi (Hungary, 2017), which also won the Golden Bear.
Many of us struggle with some kind of disability – whether physical or mental. On Body and Soul (still below) is a touching and twisted love story set in a slaughterhouse. The souls of the main characters seem to be connected but they struggle to come close physically.
Ildikó Enyedi creates a tender visual story, activating our senses, while raising questions about our connection to each other. The film shows ways we can overcome our incomplete natures and connect with other physical beings.
A Commendation went to Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman) directed by Sebastián Lelio (Chile, USA, Germany, Spain, 2017). This film is a moving story about a transgender woman in Chile. Despite social ostracism and personal humiliation, Marina continues to fight for her rights while maintaining her dignity. Refusing to only be identified by her sex, she struggles to have the freedom to live up to her full potential.
The Panorama Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, endowed with € 2500 by the Catholic German Bishops’ Conference, went to Tahiqiq Fel Djenna (Investigating Paradise) directed by Merzak Allouache (France, Algeria, 2017). A young female Algerian journalist is investigating various Islamic accounts of paradise.
This project shows the power of theological concepts and the influences they have on daily life, as well as displaying some of the fragmentations and diversities of Islamic religion. Merzak Allouache’s film warns against the danger of interpreting paradise into a commodity where the cost is the life of young men and women.
The Panorama Commendation went to I Am Not Your Negro directed by Raoul Peck (France, USA, Belgium, Switzerland, 2016). Set in the historical context of the United States civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s, and through the words of James Baldwin, this documentary continues to be relevant today, triggering universal issues of justice and human rights.
The Forum Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, endowed with € 2500 by the Evangelical Church in Germany, went to Maman Colonelle (Mama Colonel) directed by Dieudo Hamadi (Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, 2017).
Honorine Munyole heads up a special unit of the Congolese police dedicated to helping women and children who have suffered from physical and sexual abuse. An everyday hero, Maman Colonelle, as she is known, brings her mission to Kisangani, offering strength, courage, and healing.
Filmmaker Dieudo Hamadi gets close to his subject, points to the traumatic aftermath of violence, and then shows the potential, if not for a utopia, at least for a reconstructed community of survivors where hope may emerge.
The Forum Commendation went to El mar la mar directed by Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki (USA, 2017). Being lost in the desert transforms into being lost in the cinema. The senses struggle to adjust, becoming attuned and opened to the sights and sounds of the vast, sometimes mystical space.
Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki’s film teaches viewers to read the signs of the desert by reading signs of the film. We discover an indifferent place, as stories of migrants crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S. face an unforgiving landscape. A fierce but enriching experience.
The Members of the Ecumenical Jury Berlin in 2017 were: Zsuzsanna Bányai, Hungary; Annette Gjerde Hansen, Norway; Hermann Kocher, Switzerland; Markus Leniger, Germany; Charles Martig, Switzerland (President); and S. Brent Rodriguez-Plate, USA.
At the 38th Film Festival Max-Ophuels-Prize Saarbruecken January 23-29, 2017, the Award of the Ecumenical Jury went to the film Vanatoare (Prowl) directed by Alexandra Balteanu (Germany, 2016).
The award is jointly endowed with € 2500 from the Katholische Erwachsenenbildung Saarland - Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft e.V. and the Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft für Evangelische Erwachsenenbildung im Saarland e.V., represented by the Evangelical Academy in the Saarland.
Motivation: Vanatoare (still below) depicts in realistic images the everyday life of three women in Romania. They sell their bodies to make it better. This does not happen voyeuristically - the camera does not feed on the object - but with a look that opens up a strange world which thus gets plausible. With economical means, long camera shots, a powerful sound design and a concentrated plot, a film has emerged that does not leave the viewers unaffected.
Alexandra Balteanu was born in Romania After shooting a short documentary in Romania, she started studying film directing in 2010 at the German Film and Television Academy (DFFB) in Berlin. Vanatoare is her first feature film.