Israeli drama Synonyms wins Berlin Film Festival's Golden Bear

Photo: EPA Nadav Lapid celebrates his win with French actress Juliette Binoche, who led the festival jury.

Israeli director Nadav Lapid's film "Synonyms", about an Israeli man who tries to suppress his origins after moving to Paris, starting with his own language, won the Berlin Film Festival's coveted Golden Bear award on Saturday, news wires reported.

The film, about Yaav (Tom Mercier) and his struggle to reinvent himself as French, surgically excising everything about himself that is Israeli, was based on Lapid's own experiences of moving abroad and the ambivalence he felt for his homeland. Acknowledging that the film, which explores the tensions between roots and identity, could prove controversial in both Israel and France, Lapid pleaded with audiences to receive it as a "celebration of cinema."

French director Francois Ozon's "By the Grace of God", a drama about victims of child abuse in the Catholic Church and their fight for justice, won the runner-up Silver Bear Grand Jury prize.

Chinese actors Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei, who played husband and wife in Wang Xiaoshuai's generational saga "So Long My Son", won Silver Bears for best actor and actress respectively. Another Chinese film, Zhang Yimou's "One Second", was pulled from the competition earlier this week, with the festival citing "technical reasons", although it was widely speculated that the film had fallen foul of China's state censors.

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