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February 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Once again, the jury at the Berlin Film Festival, this one headed by director Paul Verhoeven, has surprised by selecting a film for its top Golden Bear award that critics had not considered to be among the top contenders. On Screen Daily‘s grid of reviews of the 18 films selected for the competition, the winning film, On Body and Soul from Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi, had only been tied for sixth place.

Ildikó Enyedi

Screen itself called the film, which is set in a Budapest slaughterhouse, a “definite auteur item with strong emotional pull” and awarded it three stars out of a possible five. (The critic for Radio France International gave it only two stars and France’s Le Monde, just one.) Guy Lodge in Variety called it “a determinedly eccentric but intermittently startling misfit romance” and noted that the the slaughterhouse scenes are so “stomach-inverting” that they could allow “vegan evangelicals … to convert audiences to their cause.” However, Katja Nicodemus in Germany’s Die Zeit wrote that in Enyedi’s production, “The silent, almost poetic cohesion of the animals forms a strange contrast to the sexualized existence of man.” The runner-up Silver Bear Grand Jury award went to director Alain Gomis’s Felicité. The critical favorite, Finnish director Ari Kaurismäkki’s The Other Side of Hope, did not run out of the money. Kaurismäkki won the Silver Bear for best director. Best actor awards went to Austrian Georg Friedrich for his role in the German film Bright Nights (Helle Nächte) and to South Korean Kim Min-hee for her performance in On the Beach at Night Alone.