“Dahomey” by Mati Diop Triumphs with Golden Bear Award in Berlin

Short Summary:

Mati Diop's "Dahomey," a documentary on the restitution of artefacts to Benin, won the Golden Bear at the 2024 Berlin International Film Festival. This victory marks the second time an African film has won the top prize at the festival.

The Berlin International Film Festival awarded its highest accolade, the Golden Bear for Best Film, to "Dahomey" by Mati Diop, a poignant documentary that explores the return of artefacts from Paris to Benin. The film's win is particularly notable as it represents only the second instance an African-directed film has clinched this prestigious award since Mark Dornford-May's "U-Carmen eKhayelitsha" in 2005. Furthermore, "Dahomey's" triumph continues the trend of documentaries securing the Golden Bear, following Nicolas Philibert’s "On The Adamant" the previous year.

Mati Diop, in her acceptance speech, emphasized the significance of restitution as an act of justice, highlighting the importance of confronting and utilizing the past to forge a better future. The ceremony also saw Korean director Hong Sangsoo receiving the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize for "A Traveler’s Needs" and Bruno Dumont’s "The Empire" being awarded the Silver Bear Jury Prize.

Sebastian Stan was honored with the Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance for his role in "A Different Man," while Emily Watson won the Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance in "Small Things Like These." Matthias Glasner received the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay for "Dying," and Nelson Carlos De Los Santos Arias was named Best Director for "Pepe." Austrian cinematographer Martin Gschlacht’s work in "The Devil’s Bath" earned him the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution.

The Encounters section awarded "Direct Action" by Guillaume Cailleau and Ben Russell the best film, with Juliana Rojas earning Best Director for "Cidade; Campo." The Special Jury Award was shared by "The Great Yawn of History" and "Some Rain Must Fall."

"No Other Land" received the documentary award, and "Cu Li Never Cries" was celebrated with the Best First Feature Award. The ceremony was marked by calls for ceasefire in Gaza and remembrance of the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, reflecting the festival's engagement with contemporary global issues.

This year's Berlinale showcased a wide array of talents and films, affirming the festival's commitment to diversity and the power of storytelling in addressing critical social issues.

Berlin International Film Festival 2024 Awards List

Competition:

  • Golden Bear for Best Film: "Dahomey" by Mati Diop (France/Senegal/Benin)
  • Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize: "A Traveler’s Needs" by Hong Sangsoo (South Korea)
  • Silver Bear Jury Prize: "The Empire" by Bruno Dumont (France/Italy/Germany/Belgium/Portugal)
  • Silver Bear for Best Director: "Pepe" by Nelson Carlos De Los Santos Arias (Dominican Republic/Namibia/Germany/France)
  • Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance: Sebastian Stan for "A Different Man"
  • Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance: Emily Watson for "Small Things Like These"
  • Silver Bear for Best Screenplay: "Dying" by Matthias Glasner (Germany)
  • Silver Bear for an Outstanding Artistic Contribution: "The Devil’s Bath" by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (Austria/Germany)

Encounters:

  • Award for Best Film: "Direct Action" by Guillaume Cailleau and Ben Russell (Germany/France)
  • Award for Best Director: "Cidade: Campo" by Juliana Rojas (Brazil/France/Germany)
  • Special Jury Award (ex aequo): "The Great Yawn of History" by Aliyar Rasti (Iran) and "Some Rain Must Fall" by Qiu Yang (People’s Republic of China/USA/France)

Generation:

  • Kplus:
    • Children’s Jury Crystal Bear for the Best Film: "It’s Okay!" by Kim Hye-young (South Korea)
    • Children’s Jury Crystal Bear for the Best Short Film: "Butterfly" by Florence Miaihle (France)
    • Grand Prix of Generation International Jury for Best Film: "Reinas" by Klaudia Reynicke (Switzerland/Spain/Peru)
  • 14plus:
    • Youth Jury Crystal Bear for the Best Film: "Last Swim" by Sasha Nathwani (UK)
    • Youth Jury Crystal Bear for the Best Short Film: "Cura Sana" by Lucia G. Romero (Spain)
    • Grand Prix of Generation International Jury for Best Film: "Who By Fire" by Philippe Lesage (Canada/France)

Berlinale Documentary Award:

  • Winner: "No Other Land" by Basel Adra, Hamdan Ballal, Yuval Abraham, Rachel Szor (Palestine/Norway)
  • Special Mention: "Direct Action" by Guillaume Cailleau and Ben Russell (Germany/France)

GWFF First Feature Award:

  • Winner: "Cu Li Never Cries" by Pham Ngoc Lan (Vietnam/Singapore/France/Philippines/Norway)

Other Awards:

  • Teddy Awards:
    • Best Feature Film: "All Shall Be Well" by Ray Yeung (Hong Kong/China)
    • Best Documentary: "Teaches Of Peaches" by Philipp Fussenegger and Judy Landkammer (Germany)
    • Jury Award: Ensemble of "Crossing" by Levan Akin (Sweden/Denmark/France/Turkey/Georgia)
    • Special Award: Lothar Lambert
  • Fipresci Prizes:
    • Competition: "My Favourite Cake" by Maryam Moghaddam & Behtash Sanaeeha (Iran/France/Sweden/Germany)
    • Encounters: "Sleep with Your Eyes Open" by Nele Wohlatz (Brazil/Taiwan/Argentina/Germany)
    • Panorama: "Faruk" by Aslı Özge (Germany/Turkey/France)
    • Forum: "The Human Hibernation" by Anna Cornudella Castro (Spain)
  • Europa Cinemas Label: "Sex" by Dag Johan Haugerud (Norway)
  • Panorama Audience Awards:
    • Feature Film: "Memories of a Burning Body" by Antonella Sudasassi Furniss (Costa Rica/Spain)
    • Documentary: "No Other Land" by Basel Adra, Hamdan Ballal, Yuval Abraham, Rachel Szor (Palestine/Norway)

Prizes of the Independent Juries:

  • Amnesty International Film Award: "The Strangers’ Case" by Brandt Andersen (Jordan)
  • Peace Film Prize: "Favoriten" by Ruth Beckermann (Austria)
  • Caligari Film Prize: "Shahid" by Narges Kalhor (Germany)

Prizes of the Ecumenical Jury:

  • Competition: "My Favourite Cake" by Maryam Moghaddam & Behtash Sanaeeha (Iran/France/Sweden/Germany)
  • Panorama: "Sex" by Dag Johan Haugerud (Norway)
  • Forum: "Maria’s Silence" by Davis Simanis (Latvia)

Prizes of the Guild of German Arthouse Cinemas & AG Kino Gilde Prize:

  • Competition: "Dying" by Matthias Glasner (Germany)
  • Generation 14plus: "Last Swim" by Sasha Nathwani (UK)

CICAE Arthouse Cinemas Award:

  • Panorama: "Sex" by Dag Johan Haugerud (Norway)
  • Forum: "Shahid" by Narges Kalhor (Germany)