Berlin-Saudi Arabian romantic comedy “Barakah Yoqabil Barakah” has won the prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Berlinale International Film Festival in Germany.
The prize, awarded on Saturday by an independent nine-member jury outside the festival’s main competition, was given to the debut film by Director Mahmoud Sabbagh and starring Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al Banawi.
Described on the Berlinale website; going to directors who have succeeded in “sensitizing viewers to spiritual, human or social values”, the prize was shared with fellow movie “Les Sauteurs”, which depicts the plight of African refugees.
Sabbagh has previously called his movie a “coming of age story rather than a romantic comedy,” and said “my film is about public space, it’s about individual freedom”.
The Berlinale, also known as the Berlin International Film Festival, is one of the world’s leading film festivals. Founded in 1951, the festival has been celebrated annually since 1978 with up to 400 films shows annually.
Moreover, the main awards, the Golden and Silver Bears, are highly sought after by industry players. Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea) made by Italian director Gianfranco Rosi, has won the Golden Bear for best film this year, which was shot on the tiny island of Lampedusa over the course of a year to tell the story of how local people deal with the arrival of 150,000 migrants. Rosi said he hoped his film would help “raise awareness” of refugees drowning at sea.
The winning choice follows a tradition at the festival, now in its 66th year, of celebrating socially conscious films. This year’s Berlinale has been described as a tribute to refugees and its director, Dieter Kosslick, said many of the nominated films had shed light on acts of humanity during times of international conflict.
The Silver Bear was given to Danis Tanovic’s Death in Sarajevo, which was set at a hotel in the Bosnian capital as it prepares to host VIPs on the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian crown prince that helped ignite World War I.