• Tuesday, 11 June 2024

Documentary on looted African art wins Golden Bear at Berlin festival

Documentary on looted African art wins Golden Bear at Berlin festival

Berlin, 25 February 2024 (dpa/MIA) - The documentary "Dahomey" by French-born director Mati Diop about the return of looted African art has won the Golden Bear, the top prize as best film of the Berlin film festival Berlinale, the jury announced Saturday evening in the German capital.


It was the second time that a documentary film won the Berlinale's coveted Golden Bear.


In her film, Diop, 41, who has Senegalese roots, accompanies 26 statues on their journey from France to their country of origin, today's Benin.


The looted art treasures were stolen from Dahomey, which is now Benin, in 1892.


In total, around 7,000 works of art were stolen around 130 years ago and are still in France today.


"Giving back means doing justice," said Diop as she accepted the award.


Diop's experimental documentary film captivates with poetic passages - for example, one of the looted treasures speaks off-screen several times.


German director Matthias Glasner received a Silver Bear for the script of his drama "Dying" – the only award in the competition for Germany.


In the film, Glasner dealt with his complex relationship with his family.


The 59-year-old was initially worried that the drama might be too personal. But it touched many people. "It was somehow worth it that when you open yourself up so much that others open up too," he said after the award ceremony.


This year the Berlinale's Grand Jury Prize went to South Korea. The jury honoured the bizarre chamber play "Yeohaengjaui pilyo" ("A Traveler's Needs") by South Korean veteran director Hong Sangsoo with Isabelle Huppert in the lead role.


Romanian-American actor Sebastian Stan was named best actor for his performance in the tragicomedy "A Different Man."

British actor Emily Watson received the award for best supporting performance for her role in "Small Things Like These."


The Irish-Belgian drama with "Oppenheimer" star Cillian Murphy opened this year’s Berlinale. Watson came on stage with a crutch - she had a fractured foot, the 57-year-old explained after the award ceremony.


Frenchman Bruno Dumont received the jury prize for the sci-fi parody "L’Empire."


Nelson Carlos De Los Santos Arias won the Silver Bear for best director for "Pepe," an experimental film about a dead hippopotamus in Colombia.

Austrian cameraman Martin Gschlacht was honoured for an outstanding artistic achievement. He received the prize for his work on the morbid historical drama "Des Teufels Bad" ("The Devil’s Bath").


This year's Berlinale was particularly marked by political debates - including at the awards ceremony. Palestinian filmmaker Basel Adra called on Germany on stage to stop supplying weapons to Israel.


Adra made the documentary "No Other Land" with three other filmmakers and won the documentary film award for it.

The Israeli-Palestinian collective had already called for a ceasefire in Gaza during the film premiere at the Berlinale.


"No Other Land" is about the displacement of Palestinians in the villages of Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron in the West Bank.


Several people on stage carried a note with the inscription "Ceasefire Now:"


Along with Cannes and Venice, the Berlinale is one of the world's largest film festivals. In 2023, the documentary "Sur l'Adamant" won the Golden Bear.


Photo: EPA