The Teachers' Lounge and The Face of the Jellyfish win the Arthouse Cinema Awards at Berlinale 2023

• Awards

On Saturday 25 February 2023, the juries of the International Confederation of Arthouse Cinemas (CICAE) at the 73nd Berlinale announced the winning films of the Arthouse Cinema Award: Das Lehrerzimmer / The Teachers’ Lounge by Ilker Çatak of the Panorama section; and El rostro de la medusa / The Face of the Jellyfish by Melisa Liebenthal in the Forum section.

The Teachers’ Lounge by Ilker Çatak winner at Berlinale Panorama

The film The Teachers’ Lounge (Das Lehrerzimmer) by Ilker Çatak received the Arthouse Cinema Award at the 73nd Berlinale Panorama.

The jury, formed by Jörg Jacob, Provinz Programmkino, Kaiserslautern (DE), Bénédicte Latinaud, Centre culturel l’Hermine, Sarzeau (FR) and Brian Robinson, BFI Flare, London (UK) stated as following:

"Leonie Benesch gives a brilliant central performance as a secondary school teacher forced to deal with the unintended consequences of her actions as she attempts to discover the truth behind a series of thefts at her school. Director Ilker Çatak keeps us on the edge of our seats as he tells a compelling story that takes us the heart of what honesty and community cohesion mean in a world fractured by distrust and distortion of the truth. A film which will provoke intense discussions about public and private morality which goes beyond the educational sphere."

The Teachers’ Lounge / Das Lehrerzimmer
Germany, 2023, 94 min

“What happens in the staff room stays in the staff room,” says Carla Nowak in an interview with the school newspaper. Even if that is purely wishful thinking for the teacher at this point. This is her first job, and she is committed to teaching mathematics and physical education to her class of seventh graders. Things are going well and she is able to motivate these adolescents. Then a series of thefts occur at school and one of her students is quickly suspected. An outraged Carla decides to get to the bottom of the matter herself, but the case is not so easy to solve and has repercussions. Quickly decried as idealistic by the rest of the staff, Carla finds herself having to answer to angry parents and mediate between quarrelling students. The more she tries to do everything right, the more she – and others – are pushed to their limits, and the entire school system is thrown off balance. İlker Çatak misses nothing in his brilliantly observed film. In his unsparing drama, the school is a microcosm in which the outside world no longer exists and nothing remains private. Das Lehrerzimmer is a study in power relations that demonstrates how individuals are worn down between entrenched positions.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: İlker Çatak

Written by: Johannes Duncker, İlker Çatak

Cinematographer: Judith Kaufmann

Editing: Gesa Jäger

Music: Marvin Miller

Cast: Leonie Benesch, Michael Klammer, Rafael Stachowiak, Eva Löbau


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The Face of the Jellyfish by Melisa Liebenthal winner at Berlinale Forum

The film The Face of the Jellyfish by Melisa Liebenthal received the Arthouse Cinema Award at the 73nd Berlinale.

The jury, formed by Zsófia Buglya, Uránia Nemzeti Filmszínház, Budapest (HU), Bruno Miguel Castro, Alvalade CineClube, Lisbon (PT) and Ibrahim Saad, Animation School - Jesuit Cairo, Cairo (EGY) stated as following:

"Through its use of mixed media at the service of a personal fingerprint, addressing Identity as a topic both imagined and real, and the playful approach on filmmaking, this film dwells into the irony of living in the present times. The film grasps control while looking deep into personal doubts and desires, accepting that change is a part of life and cinema. Congratulations to Melisa Liebenthal and the team of the Argentinian film EL ROSTRO DE LA MEDUSA!"

El rostro de la medusa / The Face of the Jellyfish
Argentina, 2022, 76 min

It is no coincidence that the second feature by Argentinian Melisa Liebenthal begins with a quote from “Duino Elegies” by Rilke, who was concerned with existential angst. And, more prosaically, Marina, the film’s young protagonist, is faced with similar anxiety. In fact, her problem is her face. One morning, she discovers her face has changed, and she can no longer recognise herself. Not even her mother can, who bumps into her on the street and says hello to her like she would to any stranger (deadpan, surreal humor is part of the film’s recipe). Marina is thus forced to confront her identity: who is she? Is she determined by her parent’s DNA or by her ID card? Can she be identified by a family portrait, by biometrics or the love of those around her, including her Colombian boyfriend? Is she prettier now? (Liebenthal’s first feature is called Las lindas, or The Pretty Ones).
The film is economic in budget and form but works playfully with simple computer graphics and 2D animation to reinforce Marina’s quest, which also makes several stops in zoos and museums so Marina can compare herself with other forms. For as Rilke says: “With all its eyes the creature-world beholds the open”.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Melisa Liebenthal

Written by: Agustín Godoy, Melisa Liebenthal

Cinematographer: Inés Duacastella

Editing: Florencia Gómez García

Music: Inés Copertino

Cast: Rocío Stellato, Vladimir Durán, Camila Toker, Roberto Liebenthal, Irene Bosch, Federico Sack, Alicia Labraga


The Arthouse Cinema Awards

The CICAE Arthouse Cinema Award was conceived as an impetus for a film to have a wider recognition as a work of art and to stand as a mark of quality for cinema-goers and cinephiles.

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