Berlin International Film Festival

Hungarian love story wins Golden Bear

Kim Min Hee became the first South Korean to win the Silver Bear for Best Actress for On The Beach At Night Alone directed by Hong Sang Soo (both above). The movie appears to mirror the rumoured relationship between them.
Kim Min Hee became the first South Korean to win the Silver Bear for Best Actress for On The Beach At Night Alone directed by Hong Sang Soo (both above). The movie appears to mirror the rumoured relationship between them.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BERLIN • On Body And Soul, a Hungarian love story about two lonely hearts working in a slaughterhouse in Budapest, won the Golden Bear for Best Film last Saturday at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.

"This film is approachable only with a generous heart," director Ildiko Enyedi, one of four female film- makers in the competition, told the audience at the awards ceremony.

The jury president, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, said the seven- member panel had fallen in love with the film because it reminded people of something too often forgotten in everyday life: compassion.

Kim Min Hee became the first South Korean to win the Silver Bear for Best Actress. She won for On The Beach At Night Alone, director Hong Sang Soo's intimate drama about a love affair with a married director.

The movie appears to mirror the rumoured relationship between Kim, 34, and Hong, 57, who filed for divorce from his wife in November last year. The two have neither denied nor confirmed the rumours, but held hands at the ceremony and Kim said in her acceptance speech that she "respects and loves" Hong.

The Silver Bear for Best Actor went to Austrian Georg Friedrich for Bright Nights, a father-son drama.

The Grand Jury Prize went to Felicite, a French-Senegalese-Belgian production directed by Alain Gomis. It is about a charismatic woman who works as a singer in a bar in Kinshasa and brightens the lives of her audiences.

The Other Side Of Hope, a refugee comedy by cult Finnish film- maker Aki Kaurismaki, had been the odds-on favourite to win the Golden Bear. Instead, he took the Silver Bear for Best Director.

As is traditional in Berlin, this year's festival tackled current affairs with entries that reflected on global developments and the dark chaos of the modern world, and with film-makers who commented on political events in the United States and elsewhere.

"Thanks to all the film-makers who tried to save the world with poetry over the last 10 days," festival director Dieter Kosslick said in a speech. "You don't need me to tell you that all is not right with the world now."

He pointedly avoided mentioning the name of United States President Donald Trump, who provoked an international uproar by announcing that he was suspending entry to the US by citizens of seven Muslim- majority nations, and said this year's line-up, tackling issues such as discrimination against racial minorities, was "protest enough".

The jury introduced a new prize - for Original Documentary - that was awarded to Ghost Hunting, about an Israeli interrogation centre, by Palestinian director Raed Andoni.

"The President of the United States yesterday called the press the enemy of the people," said American film-maker Laura Poitras in presenting the award. "We documentarians are here to say we are the enemies of nationalism and exclusion."

REUTERS, KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2017, with the headline 'Hungarian love story wins Golden Bear'. Print Edition | Subscribe