On Body and Soul (2917): Top Winner of Berlin Film Fest

On Body and Soul, a romantic dramedy from Hungarian filmmaker Ildiko Enyedi was the surprise winner of the Golden Bear as best film of the 2017 Berlin Film Fest.

An idiosyncratic love story about two lonely slaughterhouse employees, On Body and Soul also picked up a trio of awards from Berlin’s independent juries, including the best film honor from the association of international film critics (FIPRESCI).

Enyedi’s My Twentieth Century had won Cannes Fest’s Camera d’Or prize for best first feature back in 1989.

Veteran Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki, who many hoped would win the top prize in Berlin, earned the Silver Bear for best director for The Other Side of Hope, a tale of a Syrian refugee who travels to Finland to seek asylum. Kaurismaki didn’t even make it to the stage, but accepted his trophy from his seat.

Agnieszka Holland’s Polish murder mystery Spoor, another supposed Golden Bear front-runner, won Alfred Bauer Prize, named after the founder of the Berlin Film Fest, which honors the best European title in competition.

Alain Gomis’ Felicite, a realistic portrait of a singer in the Democratic Republic of Congo, won the Jury Prize.

The Berlin international jury, headed by Elle director Paul Verhoeven, surprised at the Berlinale Palast Saturday night with its choice for best actor and actress.

Newcomer Daniela Vega, the transgender star of Sebastian Lelio’s Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman, was considered a shoo-in for the best actress Silver Bear, but the prize went to Kim Min-hee for her role as a talented actress taking a break from her screen career to pursue an affair with an older married filmmaker in On the Beach at Night Alone from South Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo.

The critically acclaimed performances by Steve Coogan (in Oren Moverman’s The Dinner), Mircea Postelnicu (in Calin Peter Netzer’s Ana, mon Amour) and Sherwan Haji as the refugee in Kaurismaki’s The Other Side of Hope, were snubbed by the jury in the best actor category.

The Silver Bear went to Germany’s Georg Friedrich for Bright Nights, in which he plays an emotionally closed-off father taking his sullen teenage son on a road trip to Norway.

A Fantastic Woman got the Silver Bear for best screenplay, for writers Sebastian Lelio and Gonzalo Maza (they dedicated the prize to the “courageous, wonderful and fantastic Daniela Vega).

The Silver Bear for artistic achievement went to editor Dana Bunescu for the elegant out-of-sequence work on Ana, Mon Amour.

The inaugural Glashutte Original Documentary Award went to Ghost Hunting from Palestinian director Raed Andoni, which recreates an Israeli interrogation center to examine the trauma experienced by former Palestinian prisoners.

Oscar-winning nonfiction filmmaker Laura Poitras, who presented, used the opportunity to take a swipe at President Trump.  “The President of the United States yesterday called the press the enemy of the people,” Poitras said. “We documentarians are here to say we are the enemies of nationalism and exclusion.”

The best first feature award went to Carla Simon’s Summer 1993.

Cidade Pequena from director Diogo Costa Amarante won the Golden Bear for best short film.