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Women Filmmakers Win Berlinale Golden Bear and Silver Bear

BEV programmer Daniela gives us a second update from Berlin, and is thrilled to hear that her favourite film won the Golden Bear…

The Milk of Sorrow dir. Claudia Llosa (Spain/Peru)

From the very opening scene I knew I was seeing a very special film (and that I made the right choice to make it to the 9.30 am screening after having gone to sleep at 4 am…) – a beautiful, haunting lament, a single voice, gorgeous, soft, heart-breaking- its owner soon revealed- an old woman, lying in bed with her eyes closed, her wrinkled face framed by beautiful long ashen hair spread over the pillow…  She sings about how she was raped by rebels years ago, her husband killed in front of her, her unborn daughter witnessing this brutal act from inside her mother’s womb. The daughter’s face leaning gently over the old woman’s, their destinies bound by a bond much deeper than most mothers and daughters – a mysterious illness was passed on through her breast milk, and is said to affect children of thousands of victims in Peru’s bloody civil war – the sickness of fear.

When the old woman suddenly dies, Fausta, now shy and terrified a young woman, is forced to face her fears and find a way to be free…

I think this is the most affecting film about rape I have seen in a long time, perhaps ever, and the lasting personal and collective trauma such acts leave not only on the victim herself but on their families and communities, for generations to come. What I loved about it most was that it did so without violence, with love and even humour, gently weaving elements of magic realism into the story that follows both Fausta’s emotional journey to freedom as well as an affectionate portrayal of a community wounded by violence but determined to move on and live with dignity.

This film stood way above the rest I saw this time at Berlinale – it is one of those outstanding films that delivers on every level and never disappoints, evoking powerful emotions while skillfully avoiding over-doing it.

I was writing this up on the flight back from Berlin on Saturday night, the night when Berlinale winners are announced, and I was thrilled to find out as soon as I got back that The Milk of Sorrow won the Golden Bear- yeeeeah! The wonderful cinematography was the work of another talented lady, Natasha Braier (on BEV’s festival jury this year), and the lead actress Magaly Solier inert performance fitted the character perfectly, sustaining the viewers interest and sympathy throughout.

The runner up prize, the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize, was shared by another female director, Maren Ade from Germany, for her film Everyone Else, which follows a couple during a difficult vacation, and Argentine director Adrian Biniez’ debut feature Gigante. Unfortunately I missed Everyone Else this time, so I hope to catch it somewhere else soon…

A quick P.S. – Natasha Breier, the amazing cinematographer of Milk of Sorrow, is on our festival jury this year. Happy days.


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