Documentary about Parisian day-care centre wins top prize at Berlin

The Berlin Film Festival has taken the unusual decision to give its top prize – the Golden Bear for best film – to a documentary.

The jury – led by the actress Kristen Stewart – honoured On the Adamant, by Nicolas Philibert. The 72 year old French director – best known for the education documentary Etre et Avoir said it touched him deeply that documentary was being considered as cinema in its own right. His latest film follows life at a psychiatric day-care centre that’s floating on the River Seine in Paris.

Another veteran French film-maker, Philippe Garrel, won the Silver Bear for Best Director for The Plough, a drama about a family of puppeteers, mourning their father.

Germany’s Christian Petzold won the second prize in Berlin, for Afire, while Portgual’s Joao Canijo’s Bad Living took the third prize.

There was more success on home-soil for the German director Angela Schanalec, whose retelling of the Oedipus myth, Music, won her the screenplay award.

The gender-neutral acting prize went to the 8 year old Spanish actress, Sofia Otero, for playing a transgender child in 20,000 Species of Bees.

There was also a Silver Bear prize for artistic contribution, awarded to Disco Boy, a European co-production military drama about a soldier sent to the Niger Delta.

Nineteen films were in the running for the prizes at the first full-scale Berlin Film Festival after the pandemic.