Berlin: Nadav Lapid's 'Synonymes' and Frederico Bondi's 'Dafne' Win Critics Honors

Guy Ferrandis/SBS Films (2)
'Synonymes' (left), 'Dafne'

A story of an Israeli soldier in Paris, trying to leave his history behind, and an Italian woman with Down’s syndrome learning to step out on her own took the top honors of the international film critics association.

FIPRESCI, the association of international film critics, have awarded their two top honors for the best films at this year's Berlin International Film Festival to Nadav Lapid's Synonymes and Federico Bondi's Dafne.

Synonymes, the story of a former IDF soldier who flees to Paris and tries to escape his past, featured a volatile, but potentially star-making performance from lead Tom Mercier. The film took the FIPRESCI prize for the best title in competition at the 69th Berlinale.

The jury called Lapid's third feature “startlingly original, shaking the boundaries of narrations, through a complex character, the movie entangles different cultures and identities. It’s a powerful piece of work with a sharp sense of humor and a subtle political message.”

Another star was born in Berlin with Carolina Raspanti's effervescent performance in Dafne, playing a 35-year-old woman with Down's syndrome who, after her mother's sudden death, is left alone with her aging, depressive father (Antonio Piovanelli). But, determined to engage with the world, Dafne convinces her father to set off with her in a trek across the country to pay a visit to her mother’s grave. The film took the FIPRESCI honor for best film in Berlin's Panorama sidebar.

A “touching and deeply human portrait of a courageous daughter and her loving father trying to overcome grief [with] unforgettable performances by Carolina Raspanti and Antonio Piovanelli” was the ruling of the jury.

Berlin's main awards, the Gold and Silver Bears, will be handed out Saturday night.