Paris mental illness documentary wins top Berlin film prize

A SCENE from On the Adamant.

BERLIN — On the Adamant, a documentary about a floating daycare center in Paris for adults with mental illness, clinched the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear award on Saturday.

Its director Nicolas Philibert said he was deeply touched by the jury’s decision to award the Berlinale’s top prize to a documentary rather than a work of fiction.

“That documentary can be considered cinema in its own right touches me deeply,” he said. “For 40 years I have always fought for it to be seen as much.”

Shot over three years, the film follows life at a daycare center aboard The Adamant, a barge moored on the right bank of the Seine, where patients and carers interact in ways that break with what Mr. Philibert sees as the dehumanization of psychiatry.

“Patients in psychiatry are always stigmatized … and always considered through the prism of violence and I wanted to reverse the cliche and show how human they are,” he said on the red carpet after his film won.

“I hope it will help to awake the consciousness of society.”

The festival’s Silver Bear for best leading actor went to Sofia Otero, who plays an eight-year-old transgender child in 20,000 Species of Bees.

“It is rare to see someone convey so many emotions but remain simple and shattering,” said jury president Kristen Stewart. “Especially in performances given to us by a child.” — Reuters