'Alcarras' by Carla Simon won the coveted Golden Bear for best film at the Berlin Film Festival on Wednesday, the jury announced.
The film tells the story of the everyday struggles of a group of peach farmers in Spain and how they are pushed to the brink of their existence.
Many of this year's films focused on personal stories with a political background. 'Alcarras' is no exception, showing idyllic landscapes with parents labouring while their children play in the background.
The film focuses on the potential loss of their land since the workers have no formal title to it. On top of that, they are barely earning enough to make ends meet. The tensions radiate through the entire family.
Simon, who also worked on the screenplay, sets the images of the family's daily work against the scenes of free time, focusing on the value of respectful relationships. But she also focuses on how one's private life can be affected by social circumstances, creating a drama with many facets and a stunning look at society that skewers society's zeal for profit.
Eighteen works were in the running for the Golden Bear for best film. The jury was led by Hollywood director M Night Shyamalan.
The Silver Bear, the prize for best actor, went to Meltem Kaptan for her performance in 'Rabiye Kurnaz Gegen George W Bush' (Rabiye Kurnaz vs George W Bush), the mother trying to free Murat Kurnaz, a long-time detainee in Guatanamo, a US detention facility set up in Cuba for terrorism suspects.
Laila Stieler also won a Silver Bear for screenplay for the film.
Kaptan thanked her parents for allowing her to follow her dreams. "And for that, I just want to say thank you," as she dedicated her prize to the real-life Rabiye Kurnaz and all mothers whose love is stronger than borders.
Claire Denis won the directing prize for 'Avec amour et acharnement,' (Both Sides of the Blade), in which Juliette Binoche plays a woman whose life falls apart when a former partner unexpectedly reappears.
The Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize went to 'The Novelist's Film' by South Korean director Hong Sang-soo, about a novelist's meetings with various people. Meanwhile, the Silver Bear Jury Prize went to 'Robe of Gems,' by director Natalia Lopez Gallardo and tells the story of three women in Mexico trapped in the drug trade.
The Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution went to the Cambodian film 'Everything will be OK' by Rithy Pan, which blends documentary film work and animation to create a collage of societal criticism.
Aside the Cannes and Venice film festivals, the Berlinale counts as one of the world's prestige film awards. Since last year, actor prizes have no longer been segregated by gender, but given to the best performer in each field. This year, the supporting actor award went to Laura Basuki for the Indonesian film 'Nana.'
This year's Berlinale is open to the public, but under coronavirus restrictions that mean theatres will only be half-filled, and only those who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus or have recently recovered from Covid-19 will be admitted.
But keeping it open was the "right decision," said German Culture Minister Claudia Roth, calling it a win for the film industry.
Audience days begin after the awards ceremony, and the whole festival closes on Sunday.