10 May 2023 On the Screen (MD 2023/2)
Berlin (Germany) 2023
At the 73rd International Film Festival Berlin held February 16-26, 2023, the Ecumenical Jury, appointed by INTERFILM and SIGNIS, awarded its Prize in the International Competition to Tótem directed by Lila Avilés (Mexico, Denmark, France, 2023).
Motivation: The film is a moving portrait of a family dealing with the terminal illness of a young man. The story is told from the point of view of his little daughter and unfolds during one special day. The jury was genuinely blown away by the complex and sensitive way of illustrating the love holding this family together, neither false nor idealized. It also highlights how Mexican culture deals with death and celebrates life at the same time.
In addition, the jury awarded a Commendation to Sur L’Adamant (On the Adamant) directed by Nicolas Philibert (France, Japan, 2022) for its respectful approach to a group of mentally challenged people in a daycare-centre on a barge on the river Seine by fostering a sense of community.
In the Panorama, the Jury awarded its Prize to Sages-femmes (Midwives) directed by Léa Fehner (France, 2023) for its strong and genuine depiction of the midwife ward of a public hospital in Paris.
Motivation: The film shows the intensity of their daily work and the challenges they encounter and overcome. The film brilliantly shows the shortcomings of the system on the one hand and the dedication of the staff accompanying women who are about to bring new lives into the world on the other hand.
In the Forum, the Jury awarded its Prize to Jaii keh khoda nist (Where God Is Not) directed by Mehran Tamadon (France, Switzerland, 2023).
Motivation: How can the horror of political imprisonment and torture be told? The Iranian filmmaker and architect Mehran Tamadon, who has lived in France since his youth and returns to his homeland time and again for projects, has found an impressive way. He places his characters Homa Kalhori, Taghi Rahmani and Mazyar Ebrahimi in a space which recreates their former prisons – “where God is not“, as one of the jailors said. And as such, becomes a rogue scenario that triggers in them memories of past suffering, humiliation and torture. An original cinematic device allowing for a performative re-enactment to sharing their harrowing experiences, which becomes a denunciation of a reality that is still Iran’s nowadays. ν
Members of the 2023 Jury: Paul de Silva, Canada; Alberto Ramos Ruiz, Cuba; Anne le Cor, France; Arielle Domon, France; Kerstin Heinemann, Germany; Miriam Hollstein, Germany (President of the Jury).