Nadav Lapid’s ‘Synonyms’, an anarchic story about an Israeli who tries to suppress his origins after moving to Paris, won the Berlin Film Festival’s coveted Golden Bear award on Saturday.
The film, a faintly comedic, semi-autobiographical study of identity and the ambivalence of national belonging, tells the story of Yoav, played by newcomer Tom Mercier, and his struggle to reinvent himself as French. Yoav is shown muttering French synonyms in an attempt to displace his native Hebrew with French as he bonds with a young, wealthy Parisian couple, played by Quentin Dolmaire and Louise Chevillotte.
Lapid dedicated the film to his mother Era Lapid, who edited his films until her death.”We edited this movie between editing room and hospitals,” he told Reuters. “It was a kind of competition between death and completing the movie. And death won.”
French director Francois Ozon’s “By the Grace of God”, a drama about victims of child abuse in the Catholic Church and their fight for justice, won the runner-up Silver Bear Grand Jury prize.
List of winners at 69th
Berlin film festival
Golden Bear for Best Film: ‘Synonyms’, Director: Nadav Lapid
Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize: ‘By the Grace of God’, Director: François Ozon
Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize: ‘System Crasher’, Director: Nora Fingscheidt
Silver Bear for Best Director: Angela Shanelec (‘I Was at Home, But’)
Silver Bear for Best Actress: Yong Mei (‘So Long, My Son’)
Silver Bear for Best Actor: Wang Jingchun (‘So Long, My Son’)
Silver Bear Best Screenplay: Mauricio Barucci, Claudio Giovannesi and Roberto Saviano (‘Piranhas’)
Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution: Rasmus Videbæk (‘Out Stealing Horses’)
Glashutte Original Documentary: ‘Talking About Trees’, Director: Suhaib Gasmelbari
GWFF Best First Feature Award: ‘Oray’, Director: Mehmet Akif Büyükatalay
Golden Bear Best Short Film: ‘Umbra’, Director: Florian Fischer, Johannes Krell
Silver Bear Jury Prize Short Film: ‘Blue Boy’, Director: Manuel Abramovich
Audi Short Film Award: ‘Rise’, Director: Barbara Wagner, Benjamin de Burca
Panorama Audience Award Winner Fiction Film: ‘37 Seconds’, Director: Hikari
Panorama Audience Award Winner Panorama Dokumente: ‘Talking About Trees’.
‘Synonyms’ takes top prize