Provocative ‘Touch Me Not’ Wins Berlin Golden Bear

Wes Anderson wins best director for ‘Isle of Dogs.’

Touch Me Not, a provocative film about sexuality and intimacy that features long stretches of graphic nudity, has won the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear for Best Film. Romanian director Adina Pintilie’s drama was a surprise pick by the Berlinale Jury, headed by German director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run).

The confident debut, which follows a 50-something woman with intimacy issues who visits a call boy, sex therapist and even a bondage club as she explores her sexuality, was anything but a safe choice. In picking Touch Me Not over more crowd-pleasing titles in Berlin — such as Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs or Thomas Stuber’s romantic drama In The Aisles —the jury seems keen to send a message about notions of beauty and diversity, appropriate for a festival that has been dominated by #MeToo style discussions around power structures on and off screen in the film industry. Touch Me Not also picked up Berlin’s best first feature honor.

“We wanted to award prizes not just for what cinema can do and where it is but where it could go in the future,” said Tykwer, explaining the jury’s decision.

Anderson won the Silver Bear for best director for his stop-motion animated Isle of Dogs, which opened the 2018 Berlinale Feb. 15 and was widely praised. The Japanese-set film follows Atari, a 12-year-old boy who sets out to rescue his dog, and save canine-kind from a doggy genocide. Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum and Greta Gerwig are among the all-star voice cast.

Berlin’s Silver Bear Grand Jury prize, the festival’s runner-up honor, went to Mug, a tragicomedy from Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska, about a man who faces small-town prejudice after he become’s Poland’s first recipient of a face transplant

Paraguayan drama The Heiresses nabbed two honors, taking the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize, named for the festival’s founder, as well as best actress for Ana Brun, who plays a middle-aged gay woman forced to re-engage with the world after her partner of many years is imprisoned. Marcelo Martinessi’s drama, which she also wrote, won praise for its naturalistic performances and emotional heft.

Berlin’s best actor prize went to France’s Anthony Bajon for his starring role in Cedric Kahn’s The Prayer, where he plays a young heroin addict who turns to prayer and a monastic lifestyle to fight his addiction.

Alonso Ruizpalacios and Manuel Alcala won best screenplay for their script to Ruizpalacios’ crime drama Museum, which stars Gael Garcia Bernal as a hapless thief who carries out a daring robbery of priceless artifacts from Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology

Alexey German Jr.’s Dovlatov, an intimate look at a week in the life of Russian novelist Sergei Dovlatov, picked up a Silver Bear for outstanding artistic contribution for Elena Okopnaya’s period costume design, which recreates November 1971 in Leningrad