SHARE
COPY LINK

CINEMA

Catalan rural drama ‘Alcarràs’ wins Berlin film festival

The 72nd Berlin film festival awarded its Golden Bear top prize on Wednesday to Spanish director Carla Simón's semi-autobiographical drama "Alcarràs", about a family of peach farmers fighting for their future.

alcarras Berlin film fest
Spanish director and screenwriter Carla Simón speaks after being awarded the Golden Bear for Best Film award for the film "Alcarras" during the awards ceremony of the 72nd Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin on February 16, 2022. (Photo by Stefanie LOOS / AFP)

This year’s Berlinale was in-person for the first time in two years but held a shorter competition than usual, with strict regulations for audiences just as Covid-19 infections were peaking in Germany.

There were 18 films from 15 countries vying for the Golden Bear, with the jury led by Indian-born American director M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense”).

Simón, 35, dedicated the prize to her family, saying that “without them and my closeness to this world I wouldn’t have been able to tell this story”.

The Berlinale is now the third major European film festival in a row to award its top prize to a woman director, following Cannes and Venice last year.

German-Turkish comedian Meltem Kaptan, 41, won the festival’s second ever gender-neutral acting prize for her performance in “Rabiye Kurnaz vs George W. Bush”.

The film by German director Andreas Dresen tells the true story of a mother’s battle to bring her son back from Guantanamo Bay.

Kaptan dedicated the award “to all the mothers whose love is stronger than borders”.

‘Sly humour’

On a big night for women, France’s Claire Denis clinched best director for “Both Sides of the Blade”, a tense love story that stars Juliette Binoche as a woman caught between two men — her longtime partner Jean and her elusive ex Francois.

The Hollywood Reporter called it a “smart, moody, superbly acted melodrama”, while Britain’s Screen Daily said Binoche and co-star Vincent Lindon, who plays Jean, were “at the top of their game”.

“The Novelist’s Film”, an understated drama from South Korean director Hong Sang-soo with a small cast of characters who reconnect by chance in the suburbs of Seoul, bagged second prize.

Variety called it a “gently circuitous, conversation-driven charmer”, while the Hollywood Reporter praised its “sly humour and insights into the insecurities of the artistic process”.

Third prize went to “Robe of Gems”, a gritty Mexican crime drama from writer-director Natalia Lopez Gallardo that explores the trauma inflicted on families in Mexico when relatives go missing.

The award for best screenplay went to Laila Stieler for her work on “Rabiye Kurnaz vs George W. Bush”.

“Everything Will be OK”, Cambodian Rithy Panh’s exploration of a dystopian future where animals have enslaved humans and taken over the world, won a Silver Bear for artistic contribution.

And Michael Koch’s meditation on death and loss set in the Alps, “A Piece of Sky”, received a special mention.

The cast of Alcarràs on the red carpet during the 72nd Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin on February 15, 2022. (Photo by Stefanie LOOS / AFP) 

‘Vulnerable childhood’

Set in Catalonia, “Alcarràs” follows the story of the Sole clan, a large, tight-knit family who spend their summers picking peaches in their orchard in a small village.

But when they are threatened with eviction due to new plans for the land, which include cutting down the peach trees and installing solar panels, the family members start to drift apart.

Variety called it a “lovely, bittersweet agricultural drama”, praising Simón’s “warm affinity for this alternately parched and verdant landscape”.

“I think that this way of farming does not have much of a future,” Simón told AFP ahead of the premiere of the film on Tuesday.

“There is very little price regulation, there are more and more big companies that are farming… Only in organic farming do I see some hope, because it is a kind of farming that is difficult to do in a big way,” she said.

Simón also said she enjoyed working with children for the film.

“It’s natural for me, I think it has to do with the fact that I had a somewhat vulnerable childhood, I identify with them,” she said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

SPANISH TRADITIONS

How Spain celebrates All Saints’ Day

All Saints' Day or Día de Todos los Santos as it’s called in Spanish falls on November 1st and is a public holiday in Spain. Discover how this day is celebrated across the country.

How Spain celebrates All Saints' Day

Major shops are closed, kids stay home from school and many businesses are shut too, so what do Spaniards do on All Saints’ Day? 

A day at the cemeteries

The most traditional activity to do on All Saints’ Day is to go to the local cemetery. Spanish families usually go together to the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried, clean their gravestones and leave fresh flowers. Some cemeteries may even have events on such as live music or dance performances.

It’s also a day for spending time with family and perhaps meeting at someone’s house for a meal.  

READ ALSO: Five weird and wonderful Spanish traditions on All Saints’ Day 

Traditional treats to enjoy on Día de Todos los Santos

Panellets

Panellets are traditional sweets from Catalonia eaten around this time of year. They are typically small balls made from marzipan and studded with pine nuts. You can, however, get many different flavours and many different types of decorations such as chocolate or even coffee ones, although most of them are still made with almond flour.  

Huesos de Santo

Saint’s bones as they are called in English are another typical treat found all over Spain at this time of year. Also made from marzipan, they’re long finger-like rolls filled with a sweet egg-yolk custard, created to look like bones. Today you can find many different flavours such as chocolate, coconut, praline or even yoghurt.

Try some huesos de Santo on All Saints’ Day. Photo: Tamorlan / WikiCommons

Buñuelos de Viento

Wind fritters are small deep-fried fritters or doughnuts, which are again found in many regions across Spain during this time of year. They’re made from a batter of flour, sugar, eggs and milk and then deep-fried in hot oil before being filled with different creamy centres.

The most typical is vanilla cream, but you can also find many different types. Another favourite is those filled with cabello de ángel or angel hair, which is essentially candied spaghetti squash.

Legend says that when you eat a buñuelo, a soul is released from purgatory, which is why eating them has become a popular custom on All Saints’ Day.

Experts vary in their opinion as to the origins of these fritters. Some say they date back to the Moors, while others claim that one of the first references to them went as far back as Roman times.

La Castañada

La Castañada (Castanyada in Catalan) is a tradition held across Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Aragón and coincides with All Saints’ Day and Halloween, even though it’s a separate festival. During the days leading up to these and the days itself, you’ll find chestnut sellers on street corners, roasting shiny brown chestnuts and big pumpkin-coloured sweet potatoes.

Children also go to school around the time, dressed as chestnut sellers.

This is the time of year for roast chestnuts in Spain. Photo: Angel Abril Ruiz / WikiCommons

Many regions in Spain have their own versions of the Castañada, such as Gaztañerre Eguna in the Basque Country and Navarra, which is known as the ‘día de las castañas asadas‘ or day of the roast chestnuts. It is typically celebrated on November 2nd and All Saints’ Night when families gather to honour their deceased loved ones by eating chestnuts, snails in sauce and motokil, similar to polenta made from cornmeal.

SHOW COMMENTS