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February 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For the first time in its 66-year history, the Berlin Film Festival — the Berlinale — has awarded its top prize, the Golden Bear, to a feature documentary. The Italian film Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea), from director Gianfranco Rosi, concerns the predicament of the masses of refugees fleeing Islamist terror in the Middle East who have streamed onto the tiny island of Lampedusa at the tip of Italy and the residents of the island who have welcomed and sheltered them in the face of enormous difficulties. Thanking the Berlinale jury, headed this year by Meryl Streep, Rosi said that he wanted to dedicate the award to the people of the island, who, he said, had shown their humanitarianism in the face of enormous difficulty. Said Streep: “This is a film that commands our attention and demands action.” Two short films about refugees and migrants also received award recognition at the festival. Receiving the festival’s Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize was Death in Sarajevo, which is set at a hotel in Bosnia on June 28, 2014, the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the event that triggered the First World War. Other top awards included: Silver Bear for Best Director: Mia Hansen for Things to Come (Franco-German); Silver Bear for Best Actress: Trine Dyrholm for The Commune (Denmark); Silver Bear for Best Actor: Majd Mastoura for Hedi (Finland); Silver Bear for Best Script: United States of Love from Tomasz Wasilewski (Poland).