The moment has come! After celebrating the incredible queer movies of the International Berlin Film Festival for the past month, we now know the names of the 2023 TEDDY AWARD winners.
The 37th edition of the TEDDY AWARD proved once again that there are infinite ways to tell queer stories. Our nominated films of 2023 illustrated this diversity in the best way possible, and we are overjoyed to see the work of all the directors, actors and behind-the-scenes workers being praised and appreciated. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, only one can win!
Without further ado, here are the 2023 winners. And the TEDDY goes to…
Bambino has settled into his life as a single man. His delivery driver job in Lagos means that he has a steady income, even if the promised promotion is a long time coming. He is appreciated by the neighbourhood; he helps out financially where he can and is generous when people are late repaying him. His neighbour Ifeyinwa’s advances leave him cold, but when he meets the charismatic Bawa, the two immediately hit it off. A photo competition sees the two men driving around the city together on day-long explorations with increasing frequency. As Bawa looks at him through his camera lens, it soon becomes clear that he sees in Bambino not only a good model but also more than just a friend. Director, screenwriter and producer Babatunde Apalowo takes the title of his film at its word. Using an unobtrusive colour composition, he tells a restrained and tender story of two men who become close in a society in which same-sex sexual relations are considered taboo and are liable for prosecution. Their dance around each other unfolds slowly, in images that are concentrated and filled with calm. A sensual and politically important film from Nigeria about finding love where you least expect it.
Buenos Aires in March 2020, just days before the outbreak of the pandemic. A wedding is being celebrated; a car overturns. The guests share joints, kisses, a blow job and the memory of a loss. At the centre of this comedy of errors is 30-year-old Arturo, played by director Martín Shanly. He is every bit as drawn to misfortune as he is directionless – qualities he shares with the remainder of the film’s characters. His faux pas and blunders stand in inverse relation to the finesse with which the film elegantly glides back in time from the wedding day to the 2010s. As episodes from Arturo’s life come to the fore – a bus trip to Patagonia with his trans housemate, a painfully awkward dress rehearsal for a play – narrative time is compressed and then extended again, all while a voiceover provides a steady counterweight to the tumult. As the hit song “Azúcar amargo” (Bitter sugar) comes on and the dancefloor fills, the bittersweet nature of the film comes across with every bit the same clarity as the coughing that proceeds it – elbow etiquette is still yet to materialise.
A German police state of the past is the setting for the pulsating short film thriller Es gibt keine Angst (Afraid Doesn’t Exist). In it, Anna Zett collages video and audio material from the Berlin Archive of the GDR Opposition, partially taking the perspective of a sensitive child. Based on her own intimate involvement, the artist traces a successful, yet mostly unknown act of resistance at the very end of the GDR, while at the same time opening up an associative space for connecting with experiences of violence that are otherwise difficult to access today. Vocally highly condensed voices from a 1986 East Berlin poetry reading support the voiceless narrator – “an adult child” – in there construction of her own emotional world, as does the multi-layered musical score. From footage of the environmental library to private videos and journalistic material, the film leads to the second occupation of the Stasi headquarters in Berlin-Lichtenberg in September1990, where it settles into a very different mood.
Since her debut at the age of 18, musician, civil rights campaigner and activist Joan Baez has been on stage for over 60 years. For the now 82-year-old, the personal has always been political, and her friendship with Martin Luther King and her pacifism have shaped her commitment. In this biography that opens with her farewell tour, Baez takes stock in an unsparing fashion and confronts sometimes painful memories. She not only shares her successes but also speaks openly about long-standing psychological problems and therapies, about family, drugs, ageing and questions of guilt and forgiveness. She makes it clear that, during her relationship with the very young Bob Dylan, she used her celebrity to launch his career. Her disappointment at her later estrangement from him becomes palpable. Thanks to a long-term friendship with one of the film’s directors, Karen O’Connor, Baez granted the directing trio access to the “inner demons” that have plagued her since youth. Their film interweaves diary entries and a wealth of partly previously unseen archive material with extensive conversations with Baez, as well as backstage moments from the tour. An intimate portrait that will not only be of interest to her fans.
Directed by: Paul B. Preciado France, 2023, 98′ TEDDY nominated
Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando” tells the story of a young man who grows up to become a 36-year-old woman. Almost a century after its publication, Paul B. Preciado speaks to Virginia Woolf to tell her that her fictional character has become a reality. The transition of Orlando’s body now lies at the root of all non-binary bodies and there are Orlandos all over the world. Through the authentic voices of other young bodies undergoing metamorphosis, Preciado retraces the stages of his personal transformation through a poetic journey in which life, writing, theory and image merge freely in the search for truth. Every Orlando, he says, is a transgender person who is risking his, her or their life on a daily basis as they find themselves forced to confront government laws, history and psychiatry, as well as traditional notions of the family and the power of multinational pharmaceutical companies. But if “male” and “female” are ultimately political and social fictions, Orlando, ma biographie politique shows us that change is no longer just about gender, but also about poetry, love and skin colour.
Directed by: Antonio Carlos da Fontoura Brazil, 1973, 99′
The Black gay “Devil’s Queen” (her real name is never mentioned) rules the underworld of Rio de Janeiro from the back room of a brothel. Her eyes thick with green eyeshadow, her gaze falls mercilessly upon the members of her drug cartel. The same jackknife can be used either to shave her legs or to slit open traitors. But her reign of terror is unstable; resistance is brewing. Soon, everyone is waging war against each other to replace the queen: the favela gangsters against the gays, the drag queens against the sex workers. People with few chances in bourgeois life. Fontoura’s garish pulp construction stands for popular Brazilian cinema during the military dictatorship, whereby power relations were exaggerated in nihilistic fashion. Much like in Karim Aïnouz’s Madame Satã (2002), legendary 1930s gangster figure João Francisco dos Santos serves here as an inspiration, who this time is transposed into the 1970s as an early representation of queerness. Milton Gonçalves plays her with various voices, and the dichotomous concept of masculinity – which allows no shades of grey between macho and queen – dissolves here into glitter and air.
17.02. / 22:00 Zoo Palast 2
La Bête dans la jungle (TheBeast in the Jungle) 17.02. / 18:30 Zoo Palast 1
Notre corps (Our Body) 17.02. / 19:00 Delphi Filmpalast