As the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival drew to a close, the first of the three major international film festivals began giving out its awards. This year’s Berlin jury was headed by Kristen Stewart, and the selections promised to reflect the actress’ famously good taste in movies. But a strong lineup featuring a variety of innovative films from the world’s top directors ensured that their job was never going to be easy. From a timely documentary about the war in Ukraine to a variety of dramas about men trapped in small spaces (see: “Inside” and “Manhole”), the eclectic collection of films had something for everyone.
At last year’s festival, Carla Simon’s Spanish Drama “Alcarras” won the coveted Golden Bear. Several of the biggest names in global cinema also walked away with big prizes, as Claire Denis won the Silver Bear for Best Director for “Both Sides of the Blade” and Hong Sang-soo won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize for “The Novelist’s Film.”
This year’s jury gave the Golden Bear award to the French documentary “On the Adamant.” Nicolas Philibert’s film tells the story of a unique mental health treatment facility that uses art as a primary method of care. Stewart praised the film for expanding the jury’s understanding of what constitutes art. The Silver Bear for Best Director went to Philippe Garrel for “The Plough,” while the Silver Bear for Best Lead Performance notably went to child star Sofia Otero for “20,000 Species of Bees.”
This year’s festival also saw Steven Spielberg make the trip to Berlin to accept the honorary Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement. He delivered a passionate acceptance speech where he reflected on his unique relationship with German audiences and made it clear that he has no plans to retire any time soon.
“If this honor means that my work has found a home in Germany, then tonight, I feel like I’m home too,” Spielberg said (via Variety). “This honor has particular meaning for me because I’m a Jewish director. I’d like to believe that this is a small moment in a much larger, ongoing effort of healing the broken places of history – what Jews call Tikkun Olam, the repairing and restoring of the world.”
Keep reading for the complete list of winners from the 2023 Berlin Film Festival.
Golden Bear – “On the Adamant,” Nicolas Philibert
Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize – “Afire,” Christian Petzold
Silver Bear Jury Prize – “Bad Living,” João Canijo
Silver Bear for Best Director – “The Plough,” Philippe Garrel
Silver Bear for Best Lead Performance – “20,000 Species of Bees,” Sofia Otero
Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance – “Till the End of the Night,” Thea Ehre
Silver Bear for Best Screenplay – “Music,” Angela Schanelec
Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution – Disco Boy,” Hélène Louvart, cinematography
Best Film – “Here,” Bas Devos
Best Director – “The Echo,” Tatiana Huezo
Special Jury Award – “Orlando, My Political Biography,” Paul B. Preciado; “Samsara,” Lois Patino
Best Documentary – “The Echo,” Tatiana Huezo
Documentary Special Mention – “Orlando, My Political Biography,” Paul B. Preciado
Best First Feature – “The Klezmer Project,” Leandro Koch, Paloma Schahmann
Berlinale Shorts winners:
Golden Bear – “Les Chenilles,” Michelle Keserwany, Noel Keserwany
Silver Bear – “Dipped in Black,” Matthew Thorne, Derik Lynch
Special Mention – “It’s a Date,” Nadia Parfan