AFP: Iran’s Reza Najie won the Silver Bear prize for best actor Saturday at the Berlin Film Festival for his performance as an ostrich farmer looking for work in the city in “The Song of Sparrows.” BERLIN (AFP) Iran’s Reza Najie won the Silver Bear prize for best actor Saturday at the Berlin Film Festival for his performance as an ostrich farmer looking for work in the city in “The Song of Sparrows.”
The film by director Majid Majidi tells the story of Karim, a father working on the outskirts of Tehran who loses his job.
His efforts there to eke out a living in the capital lead to further problems for both himself and his family.
“I would like to express my thanks to the Berliners, who are lovers of art,” Najie said as he accepted the statuette.
“I am dedicating this prize to my country, which I love, and its cinema.”
The film, which received its world premiere in Berlin where it is one of 21 entries competing for the Golden Bear top prize, is a gentle cautionary tale that contrasts pastoral innocence with urban guile.
“For me, the message is that we shouldn’t keep asking for more and more, or make too many demands which will only lead us to ruin,” Majidi said after a press screening.
Muslim beliefs and traditions are interwoven into the film’s fabric, but always as a cultural reference point rather than a religious ideology.
“My religious convictions are rooted in family,” Majidi said.
“I grew up in a religious family and these values have accompanied me all my life. For me the question is not what we believe, but where our religious values take us and what they lead us to do.”
As with another Iranian film “The Children of Heaven,” for which Majidi received an Oscar nomination in 1999, “The Song of Sparrows” also focuses on the innocence and ingenuity of young children when faced with hardship.