Dahomey wins Golden Bear

Mati Diop's doc takes top prize in Berlin

by Amber Wilkinson

Dahomey won the Golden Bear
Dahomey won the Golden Bear Photo: Les Films Du Bal - Fanta Sy
French-Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop took home the top prize at this year's Berlin Film Festival for her documentary Dahomey. The film considers the return of plundered artefacts to Berlin. It is the second year in a row a documentary has taken the Golden Bear after On The Adamant won last year.

The Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize went to prolific South Korean director Hang Sang-soo for his tale of a French teacher (Isabelle Huppert) navigating a new life, A Traveler's Needs.

Bruno Dumont's spoof that transports a Star Wars-style plot to the French countryside, The Empire, won a Silver Bear, while Nelson Carlos De Los Santos Arias' experimental hippo drama Pepe won the Best Director prize. Matthias Glasner's Dying, which dives into the heart of a family with an ailing matriarch and patriarch, won Best Screenplay. The gender neutral acting awards went to Emily Watson for her supporting performance in the festival's opening film Small Things Like This, while Sebastian Stan took the Best Performance gong for his role in A Different Man.

This year the festival marked the last edition under Carlo Chatrian and Mariette Rissenbeek’s watch. Next year Tricia Tuttle, who previously ran London Film Festival, will take the helm.

Main competition

  • Golden Bear - Dahomey by Mati Diop
  • Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize - A Traveler’s Needs by Hong Sang-soo
  • Silver Bear - The Empire by Bruno Dumont
  • Best Leading Performance - Sebastian Stan for A Different Man
  • Best Supporting Performance - Emily Watson for Small Things Like This
  • Best Director Silver Bear - Nelson Carlos De Los Santos Arias for Pepe
  • Silver Bear for Best Screenplay - Matthias Glasner for Dying
  • Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution - Martin Gschlacht for the cinematography in The Devil’s Bath by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala

Encounters Jury

  • Best Film - Direct Action by Guillaume Cailleau and Ben Russell
  • Special Jury Prize - Some Rain Must Fall by Qiu Yang and The Great Yawn of History by Aliyar Rasti

  • Best Director - Juliana Rojas for Cidade; Campo

GWFF Best First Feature Award

  • Cu Li Never Cries by Phạm Ngọc Lân

Berlinale Documentary Award

  • No Other Land by Basel Adra, Hamdan Ballal, Yuval Abraham, and Rachel Szor
  • Special Mention - Direct Action by Guillaume Cailleau and Ben Russell


  • Kplus Crystal Bear - It’s Okay! by Kim Hye-young
  • Kplus Special Mention - Young Hearts by Anthony Schatteman
  • 14plus Crystal Bear - Last Swim by Sasha Nathwani
  • 14plus Special Mention - She Sat There Like All Ordinary Ones by Qu Youjia


  • Competition - My Favourite Cake by Maryam Moghaddam & Behtash Sanaeeha
  • Encounters - Sleep with Your Eyes Open by Nele Wohlatz
  • Panorama - Faruk by Aslı Özge
  • Forum - The Human Hibernation by Anna Cornudella Castro

Teddy Awards

  • Best Film - All Shall Be Well by Ray Yeung
  • Best Documentary - Teaches of Peaches by Philipp Fussenegger and Judy Landkammer
  • Best Short - Grandmamauntsistercat by Zuza Banasińska
  • Jury Award - Crossing by Levan Akin
  • Special Teddy Award - Lothar Lambert

Panorama Audience Awards

  • Fiction - Memories of a Burning Body by Antonella Sudasassi Furniss
  • Documentary - No Other Land by Basel Adra, Hamdan Ballal, Yuval Abraham, Rachel Szor

  • Golden Bear - An Odd Turn by Francisco Lezama
  • Silver Bear Jury Prize - Remains of the Hot Day by Wenqian Zhang

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