Lana Rockwell, Jabari Watkins in Sweet Thing by Alexandre Rockwell
Lana Rockwell, Jabari Watkins in Sweet Thing by Alexandre Rockwell

Sweet Thing by Alexandre Rockwell won the Crystal Bear for the Best Film in Generation Kplus at 2020 Berlin International Film Festival. Los Lobos (The Wolves) by Samuel Kishi Leopo, Mexico snagged the Grand Prix of the International Jury.

In the indie drama Sweet Thing, a dysfunctional family is portrayed in all shades of black-and-white: For the siblings Billie and Nico, living together with their father means enduring an emotional roller coaster ride instead of enjoying a peaceful coexistence. The adults are constantly getting out of control and overstepping their bounds. In an act of liberation, the children set off on their own adventure.

In Los Lobos (The Wolves), director Samuel Kishi Leopo draws upon his own childhood experiences and tells an emigration story of current explosiveness. Their land of dreams is “Disneyland”. Together with their mother, the brothers Max and Leo have just crossed the border from Mexico into the United States, and it’s not easy for them to gain a foothold in their new home country.

Crystal Bear

Crystal Bear for the Best Film: Sweet Thing
by Alexandre Rockwell, USA

A story full of youthful hopes and cohesion, which, in contrast to the achromatic reality characterized by domestic violence, unfolds with a breath-taking tempo and perfect performances. This film demonstrates how hope and courage lie in music. However, we also loved this film on the technical level. Because it deliberately leads us into the old world of film, unknown to the younger generation, and thus creates an ingenious contrast between black and white and the colorful.

Special Mention: H Is for Happiness
by John Sheedy, Australia

A motivating film from start to finish in which the protagonist attempts to bring the family back together. We were easily able to identify with the characters. The alphabet led us through a humorous and at the same time profound film.

Crystal Bear for the Best Short Film: El nombre del hijo (The Name of the Son)
by Martina Matzkin, Argentina

The short film tells of a boy’s self-doubts regarding his identity and illustrates thereby a strong father-son relationship. Although we have never been in a situation like this, thanks to the great acting on an emotional level, we were able to immerse ourselves in the story. It is difficult to put into words how touching a simple story with a solid background can be.

Special Mention: El sghayra (Miss)
by Amira Géhanne Khalfallah, Algeria / France

This film shows how a playful, young girl creates her own world by virtue of her independence and zest for life. In a breath-taking landscape, we witness how people open each other’s eyes. The film also left us with open eyes.

Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk (The Children’s Charity of Germany Awards)

The members of the International Jury Generation Kplus – Marine Atlan, María Novaro and Erik Schmitt – have awarded the following prizes:

The Grand Prix of the International Jury in Generation Kplus for the Best Film, endowed with 7,500 Euros by the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk (The Children’s Charity of Germany):

Los Lobos (The Wolves)
by Samuel Kishi Leopo, Mexico

A mother sacrifices the moment for the future. Her children are thrown into a new world, with new rules, all of which are recorded on a tape recorder that sets the frame for this intimate play. And together with the two brothers, we try to look for a solution as to how to create a new space in fantasy and reality. How to be a child in a world with a closed door? We feel what those boys feel, at any time in this unique film. We are there with them, huddled and imprisoned in a cramped space, a dirty room with a stinky rug. We learn English with a tape recorder. We want to break out. We are there with them, held up by the hope that soon, we will have a childhood again – that soon, we will visit Disneyland. For the very special and creative approach exemplified by this tale, we are happy to give Los Lobos this important prize.

Special Mentions:

Mignonnes (Cuties)
by Maïmouna Doucouré, France

&

Mamá, mamá, mamá (Mum, Mum, Mum)
by Sol Berruezo Pichon-Rivière, Argentina

This year, we made a rather uncommon decision. We decided to give a special mention to two films at the same time. The reason for that is not that we could not decide, but because these two films are connected in a beautiful way. The filmic language could not be more different. One is full of energy, the other one is told with poetic ambiguity. Whereas one is courageously harsh and direct, the other is delicate and suggestive. Nevertheless, both films deal in a truly unique and fascinating manner with the exact moment in which young girls find their identities through fear and togetherness.

The Special Prize of the International Jury in Generation Kplus for the Best Short Film, endowed with 2,500 Euros by the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk (The Children’s Charity of Germany):

El nombre del hijo (The Name of the Son)
by Martina Matzkin, Argentina

Because it is important for the world to see who you really are, and because confusion, pain and goodwill are beautifully told in this piece about a loving father and his two children in a brief moment of their lives.

Special Mention: The Kites
by Seyed Payam Hosseini, Iran

Because this is a film that tells us about borders, how they can be dizzying, terrifying and arbitrary. And because it’s a poetic tale that shows us that language can go beyond words and that empathy can be felt from afar.

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