La Presse at the 74th Berlinale | The Golden Bear to Mati Diop

(Berlin) “As a Franco-Senegalese and Afro-descendant filmmaker, I have chosen to be one of those who refuse to forget, who refuse amnesia,” declared filmmaker Mati Diop on Saturday evening, receiving the Golden Bear of the 74e Berlinale. His film Dahomey follows another documentary, On the Adamant by Frenchman Nicolas Philibert, who received the most prestigious prize at the Berlin Film Festival last year.

The jury chaired by Mexican-Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o unanimously approved this fascinating documentary which focuses on the restitution by France to Benin, in 2021, of 26 works of royal treasures from Dahomey looted in the 19th century.e century. An impressionist film with supernatural overtones, likeAtlanticthe first feature film by Mati Diop which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019.


Dahomey won the Golden Bear of the 74e Berlinale.

It is in the metaphysical questioning of the souls liberated from these uprooted sculptures and in that, very concrete, of the students of the University of Abomey that this atypical documentary finds its full meaning.

Only 26 works, out of 7,000 looted, were returned. Is this an insult or the beginning of reparation? The question haunts this powerful film, barely an hour long, on colonization and its impact on the deculturation of African populations.

Mati Diop, 41, took advantage of his platform to show his solidarity with the Palestinian people, imitating several winners and presenters of the closing ceremony, in a context where Germany unconditionally supports Israel. The words “apartheid” and “genocide” were uttered several times, while the festival’s outgoing co-director, Mariëtte Rissenbeek, once again avoided calling for a ceasefire.

The Silver Bear for the Grand Jury Prize was awarded to Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo for A Traveler’s Needs, which stars Isabelle Huppert in the role of a tourist and evanescent seductress who improvises as a French teacher in Seoul. “I would be curious to know what you found in this film. It’s too much ! », declared this iconoclast, making the jury burst into laughter.

Even more offbeat, in his thanks and on screen, the Frenchman Bruno Dumont and his parody of Star Wars, The empire, were crowned with the Silver Bear of the Jury Prize. This crazy comedy, set in the north of France, deliberately combines professional and non-professional actors with very little talent. Dumont makes fun of the Manichaeism of science fiction films and it’s very nice, but his Star Wars among the Ch’tis runs out of steam by trying to reach new heights of absurdity.

Emily Watson won the new gender neutral award for Best Supporting Performance for Small Things Like These by Tim Mielants. I found her a little caricatured in her role as mother superior with an iron fist, who appears to be tyrannical and intransigent despite her exterior mercy. It was not his playmate, Cillian Murphy, who won the Silver Bear for Best Performance in a Leading Role. He would have deserved it though.

“For a little guy born in Romania, it’s a great honor,” said Sebastian Stan (the Winter Soldier of the series Avengers), who won the prize for A Different Man by Aaron Schimberg. The role of a severely disabled man who undergoes experimental facial reconstruction surgery and whose life is turned upside down, for better and for worse.

Matthias Glasner won the Best Screenplay Award for SterbenNelson Carlo of Los Santos Arias won Best Director for Pepeand Martin Gschlacht, that of the best artistic contribution for the photo direction of The Devil’s Bath.

Where we come from, the very poetic first feature film by Montrealer Meryam Joobeur, did not find a place on the charts. On the other hand, Montrealer Oksana Karpovich received a special mention from the ecumenical jury, Saturday afternoon, for the disturbing documentary Intercepted.

Accommodation costs were paid by the Berlinale and by Telefilm Canada.

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