Berlin: 'On Body and Soul' Takes Critics, Audience Honors

Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival
'On Body and Soul'

The Hungarian drama from Ildiko Enyedi is a twisting love story set in a slaughterhouse.

Ildiko Enyedi's idiosyncratic love story On Body and Soul on Saturday collected a trio of separate honors from the independent juries of the Berlin International Film Festival, picking up the best film awards from the association of international film critics (FIPRESCI) and the German ecumenical jury and the audience award given by a jury of readers of Berlin daily newspaper Berliner Morgenpost.

Enyedi, who first caught attention from critics with her 1989 debut My Twentieth Century, which won the Cannes Camera d’Or prize for first feature, mixes stylized sensuality with magic realist humor in On Body and Soul, which sets its odd love story against the backdrop of a slaughterhouse. Films Boutique is handling worldwide sales on the film.

Mama Colonel, a documentary from Dieudo Hamadi, was another multiple winner, taking the top prize from the ecumenical jury for a film screening in Berlin's Forum sidebar, as well as the audience award from the readers of Berlin's Tagespiegel newspaper. The pic is a portrait of Colonel Honorine Munyole, a 44-year-old widow who runs a small police unit dedicated to protecting women who have been raped and children who have suffered abuse in the war-plagued regions of the Congo.

Documentaries seemed to capture the spirit of the times, at least for Berlin's independent juries this year. The Amnesty International Prize, awarded by the global human-rights group, went to Devil's Freedom, Everardo Gonzalez's doc about the Mexican drug wars. Both of the ecumenical honors for films screening in Berlin's Panorama sidebar went to docs, with the top prize going to Merzak Allouache's Investigating Paradise, a look at various Islamic visions of the afterlife, while Raoul Peck's Oscar-nominated I Am Not Your Negro received a special mention from the jury. Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki's documentary El Mar la Mar, set among migrants in the Sonoran Desert shared by Mexico and the U.S., received a special mention from the ecumenical jury. And the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (CICAE) gave its top honor in the Forum section to Amit V. Masurkar's Newton, a pic about the ongoing fight for voting rights and civic institutions in India, the world's largest democracy.

Julia Murat's Pendular won the Fipresci honor for best film screening in the Panorama section; the FIPRESCI prize for best Forum title went to Mary Jirmanus Saba for A Feeling Greater Than Love; and The Centaur from Kyrgyzstani director Aktan Arym Kubat won the CICAE prize for best Panorama film.

The guild of German art house cinemas, which represents more than 700 theaters across the country, awarded its best film honor to Sally Potter's well-received drama The Party, starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall and Emily Mortimer, while the Label of European Cinemas — a similar, though pan-European association — gave its best film prize to Insyriated, a gripping tale of a Syrian household under siege from Belgian director Philippe van Leeuw.

Sebastian Lelio's A Fantastic Woman, which won the Berlin's LGBT Teddy Award, also received a special mention from the ecumenical jury. The Chilean feature stars transgender actress Daniela Vega as a transgender woman struggling with the death of her partner and the judgment of his family.