Berlinale 2016: Refugee crisis film Fuocoammare wins Golden Bear | world cinema | Hindustan Times
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Berlinale 2016: Refugee crisis film Fuocoammare wins Golden Bear

The Berlin Film Festival’s top honour went to director Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary film Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea), about the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean off the Italian island of Lampedusa. It won the Golden Bear prize for Best Film at the Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday.

world cinema Updated: Feb 21, 2016 12:51 IST
Gianfranco Rosi, director of Fuocoammare, looks at the Golden Bear for the Best Film during the award ceremony of the 2016 Berlin Film Festival Berlinale.
Gianfranco Rosi, director of Fuocoammare, looks at the Golden Bear for the Best Film during the award ceremony of the 2016 Berlin Film Festival Berlinale.(AP)

The Berlin Film Festival’s top honour went to director Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary film Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea), about the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean off the Italian island of Lampedusa. It won the Golden Bear prize for Best Film at the Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday.

It was a fitting end for a festival which went out of its way to make refugees welcome by giving them free tickets. Rosi paid tribute to those who risked their lives to escape war and poverty, and to the people of Lampedusa who welcomed them.

Read: Refugee crisis is the highlight of Berlinale this year

“Of course now at this moment my deeper thoughts go to all the people that never arrived to Lampudusa on these journeys of hope,” Rosi said in his acceptance speech on stage at Berlin’s cinema palace for the glittering awards ceremony.

Rosi, who won the top prize for another documentary in Venice in 2013, in this film shows daily life on the small island, mostly through the eyes of a young boy named Samuele who makes slingshots to shoot at birds and cactuses.

Watch the trailer for Fuocoammare here

In the sea nearby, the Italian navy searches for overloaded boats full of refugees dying of suffocation and asphyxiation by diesel fumes and brings survivors back to Lampedusa for treatment and for transport to refugee centres.

“I want to dedicate this award to the people of Lampedusa who were always extremely open to accept people arriving there,” Rosi said.

Gianfranco Rosi, director of Fuocoammare sits behind his Golden Bear for the Best Film during a press conference after the award ceremony of the 2016 Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin. (AP)

He noted that the flood of refugees that has made headlines recently began some 30 years ago for the island just off the coast of North Africa.

Rosi said he had asked Dr. Pietro Bartolo, a physician on Lampedusa who treats refugees and appears in the film, why the island welcomes the tens of thousands of people who land there.

“He told me Lampedusa is a place of fishermen, we are fishermen, and fishermen, they all accept always, anything that comes from the sea. So this may be a lesson that (we) should learn to accept anything that comes from the sea,” Rosi said.

Read: Meryl Streep to head jury at 2016 Berlin film festival

The Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize went to Smrt u Sarajevu (Death in Sarajevo) and its director Danis Tanovic.

The Best Director award went to France’s Mia Hansen-Love for her film L’Avenir (Things to Come).

Mila Hansen-Love shows off a Silver Bear as best director for the film L'avenir during the award ceremony of the 2016 Berlin Film Festival Berlinale. (AP)

The Best Actor award went to Majd Mastoura for his role in the Tunisian film Inhebbek Hedi while Trine Dyrholm took Best Actress for her role in the Danish film Kollektivet (The Commune).

Actor Majd Mastoura holds up the Silver Bear for Best Actor as he stands with jury president and actress Meryl Streep during the awards ceremony of the 66th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin. (REUTERS)

The best script award went to Polish director and screenwriter Tomasz Wasilewski for Zjednoczone Stany Milosci (United States of Love) while the cinematography award went to Mark Lee Ping-Bing for the camerawork in the Chinese film Chang Jiang Tu (Crosscurrent) directed by Yang Chao.

Tomasz Wasilewski holds up the Silver Bear award for the best script for his film United States of Love during the awards ceremony of the 66th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin. (REUTERS)

An award for a film that opens new perspectives was given to the eight-hour-long Filipino film Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery), directed by Lav Diaz.

Read: Berlin Film Festival to open with Coens’ Hail Caesar!

Festival Director Dieter Kosslick said that watching Diaz’s film was a unique experience, not just for its length but also because the premiere started quite early in the morning.

“So we all showed up on the red carpet, totally dressed up, the sun was shining, but it was 8.30 a.m.,” Kosslick said.

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