Friday, March 24, 2023

French documentary ‘On the Adamant’ feted with Golden Bear at Berlinale

Veteran French documentary filmmaker Nicolas Philibert was the surprise winner of the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
He took home the prize for his film ‘On the Adamant’ which is a poignant observational study of a Paris mental health care facility, reports Variety.
He received the award from jury president Kristen Stewart, after the star offered an extended and plainly heartfelt ode to the film’s humanity and simplicity: “People have gone in circles for thousands of years trying to pin down what can be deemed art, who’s allowed to do it and what determines its value,” she said, citing the boundary-pushing nature of the festival, and name checking such opposing philosophers on the matter as Aristotle, Barthes, Sontag and Beavis & Butthead, before concluding: “For all of us, you just know it when you see it.”
Candidly and sometimes humorously surveying the daily routines of The Adamant, a waterborne day-care facility for people with a variety of mental disorders, it speaks not just to cinephiles but to anyone: Like Philibert’s 2002 arthouse hit ‘Etre et Avoir’, a similarly touching, unadorned study of a rural school, it centres on universal values of care and empathy.
Visibly stunned, the 72-year-old Frenchman was slightly less lyrical than Stewart when accepting his award.
He said, quoted by Variety: “Are you crazy or what?”, he addressed the jury, which also included filmmakers Radu Jude, Carla Simon, Johnnie To and Valeska Grisebach, actor Golshifteh Farahani and casting director Francine Maisler.
Gathering himself, Philibert professed himself “humbled, proud and deeply moved,” describing his film as an effort to reverse public preconceptions of the mentally ill, and reminding us that “the craziest people are not those we think they are.”
Philibert’s film was the only documentary in competition; its win marks the second consecutive triumph for a nonfiction film at one of the three major European festivals, after Laura Poitras’ Oscar-nominated ‘All the Beauty and the Bloodshed’ took the Golden Livon at Venice in September.


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