Berlin Film Festival: Spanish agricultural drama ‘Alcarras’ wins Golden Bear top prize

The Berlinale is now the third major European film festival in a row to award its top prize to a woman director, following Cannes and Venice last year.



A still from Carla Simon's Alcarras
A still from Carla Simon's Alcarras

By AFP

Published: Thu 17 Feb 2022, 2:05 PM

The 72nd Berlin film festival awarded its Golden Bear top prize on Wednesday to Spanish director Carla Simon’s semi-autobiographical drama Alcarras, about a family of peach farmers fighting for their future.

This year’s Berlinale was held in-person for the first time in two years but was a shorter competition than usual, with strict regulations for audiences just as Covid-19 infections were peaking in Germany.

There were 18 films from 15 countries vying for the Golden Bear, with the jury led by Indian-born American director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense).

Simon, 35, dedicated the prize to her family, saying that “without them and my closeness to this world I wouldn’t have been able to tell this story”.

The Berlinale is now the third major European film festival in a row to award its top prize to a woman director, following Cannes and Venice last year.

Set in Catalonia, Alcarras follows the story of the Soles, a large, tight-knit family who spend their summers picking peaches in their orchard in a small village.

But when they are threatened with eviction due to new plans for the land, which include cutting down the peach trees and installing solar panels, the family members start to grow apart.

Jury chief Shyamalan praised the film’s cast of non-professional actors, who he said were able to “show the tenderness and struggle of family” and highlight “our connection and dependence on the land around us”.

Simon, who grew up in the village of Alcarras and whose family also grow peaches, dedicated the prize to the “small families of farmers that cultivate the land every day for this food to get to our plates”.

“I think that this way of farming does not have much of a future,” Simon told AFP ahead of the premiere of the film on Tuesday.

“There is very little price regulation, there are more and more big companies that are farming... Only in organic farming do I see some hope, because it is a kind of farming that is difficult to do in a big way.”


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