Notre-Dame du Nil (Our Lady of the Nile), a film directed by Afghan-French filmmaker Atiq Rahimi, won the Crystal Bear award for best film at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival in Berlin on Feb. 29.
Rahimi also wrote the screenplay, which is based on a novel of the same name.
The film, set in Rwanda in 1973 at a Catholic boarding school for girls, has "superb acting and storytelling," and the characters were presented with "dignity and importance," said festival judges in a blurb on the festival website, who continued: "We also loved this film on the technical level. Because it deliberately leads us into the old world of film, unknown to the younger generation, and thus creates an ingenious contrast between black and white and the colorful."
According to the festival website, Rahimi is both a novelist and a filmmaker and his debut film Earth and Ashes, which he co-wrote with the Iranian director Kambuzia Partovi, screened in the 2004 Un Certain Regard section at Cannes where it won the Prix du Regard vers líAvenir.
His debut novel, "Syngué Sabour: The Patience Stone" was published in 2008; in 2011 he adapted the book for the screen with Jean-Claude Carrière. The film, which he also directed, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Notre-Dame du Nil is his third feature film.