Israeli Film ′Synonyms′ wins 2019 Berlinale Golden Bear award | Film | DW | 16.02.2019
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Film

Israeli Film 'Synonyms' wins 2019 Berlinale Golden Bear award

Nadav Lapid's quasi-autobiographical quest for identity on the silver screen takes the Golden Bear at the Berlinale 2019. Meanwhile, "So Long, My Son" by Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai won two Silver Bear awards.

The Golden Bear, the top award at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), went to the Israeli-French-German co-production "Synonyms" by Israeli director Nadav Lapid. The fast-paced film follows an ex-Israeli soldier who rejects his nationality as he moves to France to start a new life and find his true identity.

Meanwhile, "So Long, My Son" by Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai, which had been a favorite among critics for the main prize, won the awards for best actor and best actress with outstanding performances by Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei. The film follows two couples who for decades have to navigate their way through the political and economic transformation of China while coming to grips with a great tragedy in their midst.

69. Berlinale Preisverleihung | Yong Mei und Wang Jingchun (Reuters/H. Hanschke)

Double winners: Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei both won top awards for their performances in "So Long, My Son" by Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai

Read more: Politics on the big screen at Berlinale 2019

A celebration of European film

Other winners include:

  • Silver Bear for Best Director: "I was at Home, But" by Angela Schanelec (Germany/Serbia)
  • Silver Bear for Best Screenplay: "Piranhas" by Claudio Giovannesi (Italy)
  • Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize: "By the Grace of God" by Francois Ozon (France/Belgium)
  • Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize (for a feature film that "opens new perspectives on cinematic art"): "System Crasher" by Nora Fingscheidt (Germany)
  • Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution in the categories camera, editing, music score, costume or set design: Rasmus Videbaek, cinematographer on "Out Stealing Horses" by Hans Petter Moland (Norway)

Read more: Do Berlinale film critics always get the best film right?

69. Berlinale Preisverleihung | Internationale Jury (Reuters/H. Hanschke)

Star-studded jury (l. to r.): Rajendra Roy, Trudie Styler, Sebastian Lelio, Sandra Hüller, Justin Chang and Juliette Binoche

Meet the jury

French actress Juliette Binoche headed the Berlinale jury this year. She herself had won the Silver Bear in 1997 for her performance in "The English Patient."

Juliette Binoche (Getty Images/V. Zunino Celotto)

French actress Juliette Binoche was head of the 2019 Berlinale jury

Binoche was joined by German actress Sandra Hüller, also a Silver Bear winner (2006) as well as British actress and director Trudie Styler.

The trio of film industry women was complemented by Oscar-winning Chilean director Sebastian Lelio, American film critic Justin Chang and Rajendra Roy, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Read more: Juliette Binoche: Up close with the 2019 Berlinale Jury head

Awards on the sidelines

A number of independent awards had been announced earlier, including the FIPRESCI jury award, which represents the International Film Critics Association. The association also selected Nadav Lapid's "Synonyms" as their competition winner.

Dieter Kosslick (Reuters/H. Hanschke)

Festival director Dieter Kosslick retired from the position after 19 years

The Guild Film Prize, awarded by members of the Association of German Art House Cinemas, chose "God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya" by Teona Strugar Mitevska (a Macedonian, Belgian, Slovenian, French and Croatian co-production).

The Ecumenical Jury, comprised of the international film organizations of the Protestant and Catholic Churches (INTERFILM and SIGNIS, respectively) also gave their top award to "God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya." 

Meanwhile the readers' jury award of the Berlin daily newspaper Berliner Morgenpost went to Nora Fingscheidt's "System Crasher."

Several days earlier, French director Agnes Varda won the honorary Berlinale Camera award.

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