“The Fam” (“La Mif”), Swiss filmmaker Fred Baillif’s bruising, raw portrait of the residents and staff of a Geneva, Switzerland, teen girl care home, has won the Berlinale’s Generation 14plus Grand Prix. 

“Like a rushing, energetic, pulsing heartbeat, this film pushes its characters and viewers in brutal honesty through different stories and incidents. Carried by captivating and strong acting performances, it never loses its balance between power and vulnerability. The film pulls you in, never lets go and hits straight to the heart,” the jurors said in their praise of the pic.

“The Fam,” which features remarkable performances for non-pro actors, is produced by the director’s own outfit, Freshprod, and RTS, the Swiss French-language public television. It is sold by Latido Films.

A Special Mention in the category Feature Film Generation 14plus went to U.S. director Dash Shaw’s animated fantasy  “Cryptozoo,” which premiered at Sundance.

In the lower-age Generation Kplus section the Grand Prix winner was “Summer Blur” (Han Nan Xia Ri) by Chinese director Han Shuai about a 13-year-old named Guo dreams of breaking away from her loveless home after she is sent to live with her Aunt in Wuhan while her recently re-married mother builds a new home in Shanghai.

“This film convinces with its energetic, strong visual power and its outstanding combination of all levels of filmmaking,” the jurors said “Thereby it creates a summer fairy tale that dances on the edge of a nightmare. In every second, one could sense the heat, the thick air and the pressure that is on the main character,” they added.

The Special Mention in Generation Kplus went to “A School in Cerro Hueso” (Una escuela en Cerro Hueso) by Argentinian director Betania Cappato. Pic is about a small rural school on the Paraná River, in south central South America, where six-year-old Ema, who has been diagnosed with autism, “slowly starts to open up to the world around her,” according to the fest’s synopsis.

The jury of the Berlinale section dedicated to films for children and young adults was made up by German actor Jella Haase (“Berlin Alexanderplatz”); Dutch director Mees Peijnenburg (“A Hole in My Heart”); and German director Melanie Waelde (“Naked Animals”). The two Generation Grand Prix Awards each come with a $7,500 cash prize.

The Crystal Bears awarded by the official Berlinale Generation Children’s Jury and the Youth Jury will be announced in a separate award ceremony during the Berlinale Summer Special in June. The independent Jury AG Kino Gilde 14plus which focuses on the Generation 14plus selection will also announce their award during the Summer Special.

John Hopewell contributed to this report