Berlin: Sebastian Lelio's 'A Fantastic Woman' Wins Teddy Award for Best Film

Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival
'A Fantastic Woman'

The story of a transgender woman dealing with the death of her partner took the top prize for LGBT-themed movies screening at the festival.

Sebastian Lelio's A Fantastic Woman on Friday earned the top prize for best film at the Teddy Awards, which honor LGBT movie screening at this year's Berlin International Film Festival.

The Chilean feature, which premiere in competition in Berlin, stars newcomer Daniela Vega as a transgender woman struggling with the death of her partner and the judgment of his family.

In announcing the award, the jury said Lelio “infused the story with understanding and compassion illuminating the ongoing discrimination and marginalization of transgender people around the world.”

The Teddy special jury prize went to Panorama entry Close Knit from Japanese director Naoko Ogigami. The family drama focuses on a 11-year-old who, after her alcoholic mother leaves her, goes to live with her uncle and his transsexual (and knitting-obsessed) girlfriend.

“Ogigami puts emphasis on unique details such as the knitted objects, beautiful cinematography and the universal appeal of an uplifting, yet realistic story,” said the jury.

Hui-chen Huang's Small Talk took home the the Teddy for best documentary. The film looks at Taiwanese women who work as professional mourners at funerals.

Small Talk is the director’s courageous portrayal of her family story, which gives the audience an inside look at a culture we might not be familiar with,” said the jury. “This powerful documentary manages to be of universal significance and extremely intimate at the same time.”

God's Own Country, Francis Lee's love story between a Yorkshire farmer and a Romanian itinerant worker, received the Harvey, the prize awarded by readers of Berlin's Manner, a gay monthly magazine. The pic premiered at Sundance before moving to Berlin's Panorama sidebar. The Harvey is named in honor of late San Francisco politician and gay-rights activist Harvey Milk.