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Iranian family drama takes Berlin's Golden Bear

Nader and Simin: A Separation

Story by Jack Foley

IRANIAN drama Nader and Simin: A Separation has taken the top Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival.

The film, directed by Asghar Farhadi, also took the best acting prizes. For best actor, the whole ensemble, led by Peyman Moaadi, was recognised, while the movie’s female ensemble, led by Leila Hatami, took the actress prize.

The drama pits one family against another in a legal battle over the care of an elderly man who suffers from incontinence.

And, according to director Farhadi, it seeks to highlight the gap between middle class and poorer, more traditional Iranians.

Upon receiving the Golden Bear, a delighted Farhadi paid tribute to fellow Iranian Jafar Panahi who could not sit on the Berlin jury after he was jailed on charges of working against his government.

He added: “I really think his problem will be solved and I would like him to stand here next year.”

Commenting on his own achievements, Farhadi, who also won best director at Berlin two years ago for About Elly, said: “I never would have thought that I would win this prize.”

But he felt the film’s victory offered “a very good opportunity to think of the people of my country, the country I grew up in, the country where I learned my stories – a great people”.

Farhadi did, however, miss out on the director prize this year, which went to German filmmaker Ulrich Kohler for his film, Sleeping Sickness, which tells the tale of a corrupt Western aid programme in Africa.

The Silver Bear, for best film runner-up, went to Hungarian director Bela Tarr’s The Turin Horse, a black-and-white film about the isolated lives of a farmer and his daughter.

Thanking members of the jury, Tarr said that The Turin House would be his last film.

Another German director, Andres Veiel, took the innovation award for If Not Us, Who? and the prize for best script went to US director Joshua Marston and his co-writer Andamion Murataj for Albania set drama The Forgiveness of Blood.

Argentine film The Prize won two technical awards to round off the prize-giving for this year’s festival.