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Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof on a the screen of an open-air cinema.
Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof was a member of the juryImage: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/picture alliance

Berlinale awards its Golden and Silver Bears

Elizabeth Grenier
June 14, 2021

"Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn" had been revealed as the winner of the Berlin Film Festival's top award back in March, but the awards ceremony was held later due to special pandemic scheduling.


The winner of the Golden Bear for best film, Romanian director Radu Jude for Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn, was among the international filmmakers who traveled to Berlin to receive their award at the Berlin International Film Festival's award ceremony held on Sunday.

The Silver Bear awards in various categories, along with the Berlinale Documentary Award, the GWFF Best First Feature Award and prizes for films in other sections of the festival, were also handed out on June 13.

A few German works were among the Silver Bear winners. Mr. Bachmann and His Class, a documentary by Maria Speth, won the Silver Bear Jury Prize. 

The festival awarded its first ever gender-neutral acting prize — where both male and female actor compete in the same category — to Maren Eggert for her performance in Maria Schrader's I'm Your Man.

The event took place outdoors, on Berlin's Museum Island, where the red carpet is being rolled out for the Berlinale Summer Special, which presents 126 films from its selection in open-air cinemas for the public from June 9-20.

The Berlinale's pandemic shake-up

Normally, the Berlin International Film Festival's awards ceremony is an event filled with suspense for critics and film fans who closely follow the competition, as they hope that their own favorites will be crowned with the Golden Bear, or at least obtain one of the Silver Bears.

However, things were different this year. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the festival's organizers divided the Berlinale into two separate events.

The prizewinners were revealed during the first part of the festival in March, an online program restricted to film industry professionals.

The announcement was a very low-key event, with the members of the jury reading their statements from separate hotel rooms, and the winners tuning in through a video link to react to the news.

The prizes are now being handed out three months later during the second part of the festival, the Berlinale Summer Special. 

The festival will conclude with the announcement of an additional Berlinale Competition Audience Award on June 20.

Deutschland Berlinale Summer Special film festival in Berlin | Ada Solomon, Radu Jude und Katia Pascariu
Romanian director Radu Jude poses on the red carpet with producer Ada Solomon (left) and actress Katia Pascariu (right)Image: Tobias Schwarz/REUTERS

Provocative Golden Bear censored in Russia

The Golden Bear winning film, Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn, is a sexually-explicit dark comedy about a school teacher who risks losing her job when a personal sex tape starts circulating online and in her school.

The jury said in March that they had picked the film because it "captures on screen the very content and essence, the mind and body, the values and the raw flesh of our present moment in time. Of this very moment of human existence."

Set in real-world Bucharest, it was the only competition film set during the COVID-19 pandemic, with all characters wearing masks.

The film also comments on the Church, antisemitism and far-right politics.

Even though the work found a Russian distributor, Russia's Ministry of Culture announced on June 11 that it would not issue a distribution license for Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn, according to reports in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.  

The ministry said that the Golden Bear-winning work violates Russian laws on pornography.

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