French documentary, Spanish girl clinch top prizes at Berlinale

In what jury chair Kristen Stewart called a “boundary-pushing” event, the Berlin film festival on Saturday gave its Golden Bear top prize to a documentary by French director Nicolas Philibert and its best acting reward to an eight-year-old girl.

“On the Adamant”, coming more than 20 years after Philibert’s acclaimed education documentary “To Be and To Have”, is about a floating day-care centre for people with psychiatric problems on the Seine in Paris.

Thanking the jury, Philibert, 72, said “that documentary can be considered to be cinema in its own right touches me deeply”.

The festival’s gender-neutral acting reward was given to eight-year-old Sofia Otero from Spain on a night filled with unexpected events.

The young actress was recognized for her work as a transgender child in “20,000 Species of Bees,” the Spanish filmmaker Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren’s feature film debut.

The film has received a lot of acclaim from critics. According to Screen Daily, “art-house audiences globally should react to the pathos, breadth, and humanity of a film that takes time to develop but never loses its hold once it does.”

Otero later told reporters that she was “very thankful and very pleased” as she accepted the award while fighting back tears.

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