Asian films tackle LGBT issues at Berlin International Film Festival

By Li Jingjing in Berlin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/19 17:43:39

Ildikó Enyedi (center) poses with producers Erno Mesterhazy (left) and Monika Mecs Photo: IC

The results of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) were announced on Saturday night, with director Ildikó Enyedi's Hungarian romance film On Body and Soul taking home the night's biggest prize - the Golden Bear for Best Film.

Still from films On Body and Soul Photo: Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival

"The jury fell in love with this movie not only because of her superior craftsmanship, but because it reminds us of a word we often use too easily, compassion," said jury president, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, at the award ceremony.

The film's love story takes place in a slaughterhouse in Budapest where two people realize they have the same dreams at night and try to make them a reality.

"We couldn't know if the audience would join us because this film is approachable only with a generous heart," Enyedi said at a press conference after the award ceremony.

Still from film Félicité Photo: Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival

Félicité, a multi-country production, depicts a woman working as a singer living in Kinshasa, Congo, and the tough turn her life takes after her son has an accident.

Finish director Aki Kaurismäki won the Silver Bear for Best Director for his film The Other Side of Hope, which tells the stories of refugees.

"It takes a great artist to actually move us politically. No one has language like his," jury member Dora Bouchoucha Fourati said, describing the film.

Austria actor Georg Friedrich won the Silver Bear for Best Actor for his performance in the film Bright Nights, while South Korean actress Kim Minhee won the Silver Bear for Best Actress for her performance in On the Beach at Night Alone, directed by Berlinale veteran Hong Sang-soo from South Korea.

A Fantastic Woman, a film depicting a transgender woman, won the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay.

Asian perspective

Asian films performed rather well this year. Have a Nice Day from the Chinese mainland, South Korea's On the Beach at Night Alone, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan co-production Mr. Long all took part in the main competition.

However, only On the Beach at Night Alone took home a Bear.

Have a Nice Day, a Chinese animated crime/comedy film is the first animated feature film from Asia to make it into the Competition section at the Berlinale since Japanese animated film Spirited Away by Miyazaki Hayao took part 15 years ago.

The film's producer, Yang Cheng, wrote on his personal WeChat page that "the reaction from the audience, our peers and the press have made us feel great and we will continue to make good films as usual."

Asian films also shined in other sections. In the Generation section, Ben Niao (The Foolish Bird) from China won a Special Mention from the jury.

The film focuses on a 16-year-old girl whose parents move away to another city for work, leaving her to deal with loneliness, being bullied and relationship troubles on her own. The film reflects China's current social issue of "left-behind" children.

Small Talk, directed Huang Hui-chen from Taiwan, won Best Documentary at the Teddy Award, a queer film award at Berlinale.

In her film, Huang documents the 20-year relationship between her and her mother, who is a lesbian, and explores her mother's little-talked-about past.

Close-Knit from Japan's Naoko Ogigami won the Teddy Award's Special Jury Award. The film focuses on a family in which the mother is transgender and the couple's daughter is actually the husband's niece.

"This is the only film that made me and classmates want to cry many times," a graduate student of filmmaking at the University College London, Hao Yilei, told the Global Times.

"Its themes include family relations, parent-child relations and transgender, homosexual and adolescence issues. It is very deep and heartwarming," she said.

List of winners

Golden Bear for Best Film

On Body and Soul by Ildikó Enyedi

Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize

Félicité by Alan Gomis

Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize (for a feature film that opens new perspectives)

Pokot by Agnieszka Holland

Silver Bear for Best Director

Aki Kaurismäki for The Other Side of Hope

Silver Bear for Best Actress

Kim Min-hee in On the Beach at Night Alone by Hong Sang-soo

Silver Bear for Best Actor

Georg Friedrich in Bright Night by Thomas Arslan

Silver Bear for Best Screenplay

Sebastián Lelio and Gonzalo Maza for A Fantastic Woman by Sebastián Lelio

Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution

Dana Bunescu for the editing in Ana, Mon Amour by Călin Peter Netzer

Newspaper headline: Golden night


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