Catalan 'Alcarràs’ movie by Carla Simón wins Golden Bear at Berlinale Film Festival

Movie is a homage to rural life in Catalonia and is the first time a Catalan film wins the award

'Alcarràs' director Carla Simón at the Berlinale, February 15, 2022 (by Violeta Gumà)
'Alcarràs' director Carla Simón at the Berlinale, February 15, 2022 (by Violeta Gumà) / ACN

ACN | Berlin

February 16, 2022 08:24 PM

Carla Simón's Alcarràs movie has been awarded the Golden Bear for Best Film at Berlin International Film Festival on Wednesday.

During her acceptance speech, Simón considered herself "a daughter of this place" referring to her first award at the festival. "This is truly our film home, I think maybe I should move here, because every time we come, something amazing happens," Simón added. 

Back in 2017, Simón won two awards for her 'Summer 1993' movie

'Alcarràs' tells the story of a family during their last fruit harvest on a farm before the owners install solar panels. It's set in the Alcarràs countryside, outside Lleida in the west of Catalonia.

"I want to thank my family because they grew peaches in Alcarràs, and because without them and this closeness to this world, I would not have been able to tell this story," the director said on top of the stage in Berlin.

Like Simón's (b. Barcelona, 1986) first feature film (Summer 1993), the story is based on personal experience, in this case, the death of her grandfather, as she explained to the Catalan News Agency (ACN) in an interview in Berlin.

"The loss of my godfather, who had always worked in the fields, made me appreciate his legacy and I wondered if those trees would really be there forever. And the answer, probably, is no," Simón said to ACN.

Her film, with a cast made up of non-professional actors, delves into the loss too of an entire way of life – small-scale family farms.

9,000 candidates at casting

In 2019, just before the pandemic, producers went to dozens of local festivals (festa majors) in the areas of Segrià and Pla d'Urgell, looking for people they thought would be suitable to appear in the film. In the end, around 9,000 people ended up participating in the casting process.

Simón wanted to make her on-screen family as real as possible; she brought the actors together every day for about three months to "build plausible roles and relationships."

"Regardless of what language the actors speak, the film is about universal issues. Everyone has a family and millions of people around the world live in the countryside," Simón said on Tuesday to ACN.