The feature film “Mantagheye Bohrani” (“Critical Zone”) by Iranian director Ali Ahmadzadeh won the Golden Leopard at the 76th Locarno International Film Festival. The film about the everyday life of a drug dealer in Tehran uses coded images to reflect life in a country where a free life is not a matter of course.

Before the festival, Ali Ahmadzadeh was asked by the Iranian authorities not to show his film in Locarno and was not allowed to travel to the festival. The award is both artistic recognition and a sign of solidarity with filmmakers in Iran.

The Ukrainian director Maryna Vroda, who lives in Kiev and Berlin, was awarded the prize for best director for the international co-production “Stepne” (“Steppe”), which was also financed by German producers – including Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg. Your feature film describes rural life in Ukraine, far away from the war. In awarding these prizes, and in most other decisions, the juries have largely lived up to expectations.

Clara Schwinning received an award for the best acting performance for her performance in “Ein schöner Ort”. In the young talent competition, the German director Katharina Huber was honored as the best young director for her philosophical social panorama “A Beautiful Place”. Isold Halldórudóttir and Stavros Zafeiris, the leading actors in the German feature film “Touched”, which was also shown in the young talent competition, were honored for their acting achievements. In the experimental film competition, the 15-minute drama “En Undersøgelse af Empati” (“A Study of Empathy”), realized in a Danish-German joint production, was chosen as the best short film by the German director Hilke Rönnfeldt.

In the experimental competition, the German-Brazilian co-production “You are so wonderful” by the Brazilian directing duo Leandro Goddhino and Paulo Menezes was also awarded the main prize for a short feature film in this competition.

The jury of the main competition, chaired by French actor Lambert Wilson (“Of Men and Gods”), gave the second most important award, the special prize, to the film “Nu aștepta prea mult de la sfârșitul lumii” (“Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World”) by the Romanian Radu Jude. The director, who became internationally known after winning the Golden Bear at the Berlinale 2021 for “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn”, takes a critical look at the social injustices in his film, in which the German actress Nina Hoss appears in a supporting role home country apart.

For the first time, the awards for best acting performances in Locarno were presented in a gender-neutral manner. One of the two honors went to Greek actress Dimitra Vlagopoulou for her portrayal of a young woman driven by the wolf laws of capitalism in the feature film Animal. Renée Soutendijk from the Netherlands was also honored. In the anti-colonial drama “Sweet Dreams” she plays the wife of a plantation owner who takes a remarkable stand against male violence.

The prizes were awarded in Locarno early on Saturday afternoon. All winners are to be presented to the public on Saturday evening in an open-air gala on the Piazza Grande of the picturesque holiday resort on the Swiss shore of Lake Maggiore. 17 films from all over the world were screened in the international competition. A total of 214 short, experimental, documentary and feature films were shown at the festival in 466 screenings, many of which were sold out.