16 Apr Iranian drama wins top prize at Berlin film festival
In Iranian drama which follows the aftermath of the disintegration of a marriage after 15 years won the top prize at the Berlin film festival at the weekend.
Asghar Farhadi’s film Nader and Simin, a Separation picked up the Golden Bear for best film, as well as Silver Bears for best actress and best actor at the 61st edition of the annual event. In so doing it became the first Iranian film to take the prize.
Farhadi’s film centres on a middle-class couple who separate, and a conflict which erupts along class lines when the husband takes the decision to hire a poor and deeply religious woman to act as carer for his elderly father. In accepting the award, the director paid tribute to countryman Jafar Panahi, who was unable to sit on the Berlin jury following his incarceration for six years and film-making ban by the Iranian government in December.
“I really think his problem will be solved and I would like him to stand here next year,” Farhadi said, adding: “I never would have thought that I would win this prize.”
He said the success of Nader and Simin, a Separation offered “a very good opportunity to think of the people of my country, the country I grew up in, the country where I learned my stories – a great people”.
Farhadi lost the best director award to Germany’s Ulrich Köhler, whose film Sleeping Sickness, centres on a corrupt western aid programme in Africa. However his film won the best actor gong for its male ensemble cast, led by Peyman Moaadi, and the equivalent award for its female ensemble cast, led by Leila Hatami.
The Silver Bear for runner-up best film went to Hungarian director Béla Tarr, who said The Turin Horse would be his swansong.
“I believe that in this film everything comes together,” said the 55-year-old film-maker. “Everything is contained in this film – everything that I believe needs to be shown in film.”
The black-and-white film tells the story of a farmer and his daughter living an isolated existence.
The much-discussed Paranmanjang, otherwise known as Night Fishing, won the Golden Bear award for best short film at the ceremony. Shot by Korean film-maker Park Chan-wook and his brother Chan-kyong, it is notable for being filmed entirely using an iPhone’s built-in video camera.
The jury at Berlin was chaired by actor and film-maker Isabella Rossellini. This year’s event ran from 10-20 February.