Berlinale: Golden Bear at “Alcarràs” by Spaniard Carla Simón

The Berlinale made the voice of the countryside and that of women heard by crowning the Spanish film ‘Alcarràs’ by director Carla Simón. The prize list is almost exclusively female.

By winning this prize, the 35-year-old filmmaker becomes the third young director in a row to be crowned by a major festival, after the French Julia Ducournau, Palme d’Or at Cannes for ‘Titane’ and Audrey Diwan, Golden Lion. in Venice for ‘The Event’.

If we add to this the triumph at the Oscars 2021 of the American Chloé Zhao, with ‘Nomadland’, these most prestigious awards in the cinema planet seem to testify, five years after the start of the Weinstein affair, of a desire to rebalance in an industry long dominated by men.

In Berlin, the prize list is almost exclusively female, with a prize for the best director to the Frenchwoman Claire Denis for ‘Avec amour et acharnement’ and a ‘non-gendered’ prize for the best interpretation to the German actress. -Turkish Meltem Kaptan.

Ode to smallholders

The Golden Bear also sheds light on the future of agriculture and peasants, jostled by modernity. ‘Alcarràs’ is an ode to smallholders, set over a summer in a sunny corner of Catalonia.

The president of the jury, the American director M. Night Shyamalan, praised the performance of the actors who knew how to ‘show the tenderness and the fight of a family’, and to highlight ‘our dependence on the land’.

The director, who lost her parents very young and grew up near this small town of Alcarràs, thanked her family, ‘who grew peaches and without which (she) would never have been so close to this world’.

Carla Simón, who had already received a first film award in Berlin for ‘Summer 1993’ (2017), also dedicated her prize to ‘small farming families who cultivate their land every day to fill our plates’.

Uproot the trees

In ‘Alcarràs’, it is this disappearing world that invades the screen, all the more glaringly true as the actors are non-professionals, recruited from the surrounding area. The film follows the Solé family, who for three generations have cultivated hundreds of peach trees on the land of wealthy landowners.

But the latter want to uproot the trees to install solar panels there, and propose to the Solé to adapt to this new situation, or to leave. The head of the family, Quimet, refuses to see his world disappear.

Around him is a whole fragile family balance, from children to the elderly, which threatens to collapse. The cast, of non-professional actors, is filmed with great tenderness. The film is both moving and profound on the issues of the forced modernization of the countryside or the conflict between economy and ecology.

no future

The director sees ‘little future’ for small family farms. “There is very little price regulation, and more and more big companies,” she explained in an interview with AFP on Tuesday. ‘I only see hope in organic farming,’ she added.

Carla Simón succeeds Romanian Radu Jude, Golden Bear last year, after a week of competition at a brisk pace due to the Covid. The organizers can congratulate themselves on having, at the cost of drastic sanitary measures, brought the competition to an end after an ersatz festival, online only, last year.

Three award-winning Swiss films

On the Swiss side, three films were rewarded. ‘Drii Winter’ by Michael Koch from Lucerne received a special mention from the Golden Bear jury. In the ‘Encounters’ section, Cyril Schäublin from Zurich won the prize for best director and the Swiss co-production ‘A Friday, Robinson’ the special jury prize.

These awards aroused the enthusiasm of Federal Councilor Alain Berset. ‘What a year for Swiss cinema,’ he tweeted on Wednesday evening before adding: ‘Congratulations!’.

The Franco-Swiss director Ursula Meier who presented ‘The line’ in the international competition leaves empty-handed. In 2012, she won the Silver Bear with ‘L’enfant d’en haut’. In total, Switzerland sent 11 films this year to the German capital.


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Berlinale: Golden Bear at “Alcarràs” by Spaniard Carla Simón