Intimacy and sex are essential elements to finding happiness in life, a theme found in this year’s winning film. “Touch Me Not,” by Adina Pintilie, has won the Golden Bear prize at this year’s Berlinale. The festival opened on February 15th and closed today and included around 400 films. Of those, nineteen were competing for the top Golden Bear prize.
Romanian director Adina Pintilie said she had not expected to win the award for her film. “It’s so important this is coming because the film looks at how we can find intimacy in the most unexpected ways, at how to love another without losing ourselves,” the director said during a press conference after her win. On the fluid border between reality and fiction, “Touch Me Not” is a semi-documentary in which Pintilie follows the emotional journeys of Laura, Tómas and Christian, offering a deeply empathic insight into their lives. Craving for intimacy yet also deeply afraid of it, they work to overcome old patterns, defense mechanisms and taboos, to finally cut the cord and be free.
(all photos above by Lavinia Pinzari, except for the first one at left | Instagram) The Silver Bear award for best director was given to U.S. director Wes Anderson for “Isle of Dogs,” an animated movie set in Japan in the near future. Canine flu is terrifying the humans of Megasaki City and its mayor orders all dogs removed and taken to a garbage dump island, the film standing as a story of intolerance towards the weakest. In what is a reminder of how human beings are expelled from their homes and imprisoned against their will, Anderson makes an commendable attempt to illustrate the refugee experience. Hollywood star Bill Murray, who was the voice of one of the dogs, collected the award at the gala ceremony on Anderson’s behalf. “I never thought that I would go to work as a dog and come home with a bear,” he joked as he held the Silver Bear trophy, during the ceremony.
Twenty three year-old Frenchman Anthony Bajon got the best actor nod for his role in Cedric Kahn’s “La prière” (The Prayer). He plays a drug addict who tries to kick the habit. His last chance is a community of young men from different countries and social backgrounds who also want to overcome their addictions and are living together in a remote house in the French Alps.
Ana Brun received the best actress award in Marcelo Martinessi’s “Las herederas” (“The Heiresses”). When her partner gets sent to prison, Brun uses her old Mercedes Benz to provide a taxi service to wealthy older ladies in the neighborhood. In her new role as chauffeur, she meets one of those ladies’ daughters, the young and life-affirming Angy.
Best screenplay was handed to Manuel Alcala and Alonso Ruizpalacios for “Museo” (“Museum”), about two likeable but wayward veterinary students who steal artefacts from Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology.
Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska’s “Twarz” (“Mug”) took home the Silver Bear Grand Jury prize. The movie tells the story of a young construction worker who undergoes a facial transplant following an accident, a metaphor for Poland, where, after the Soviet farewell, one corporation, the Catholic corporation, controls the media, politicians and the education system.
Actor Willem Dafoe received an honorary prize this year. No award was given to Laura Bispuri, this year’s only Italian director. In her “daughter of mine,” eleven year-old Vittoria is torn between her biological and natural mother. “Daughter” is a tense melodrama that puts motherhood, the #MeToo movement and working with children front and center.
Italy-based Monica Straniero is special correspondent to Screen Comment (@Monicastraniero)