Dorrie's 'Blossoms' leads Lola noms

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COLOGNE, Germany -- The German Film academy handed veteran director Doris Dorrie the equivalent of a golden bouquet Friday, nominating her latest drama "Cherry Blossoms" for six Lolas, the German equivalent of the Oscar.

Close behind were Fatih Akin's cross-cultural drama "The Edge of Heaven" with five Lola nominations and Christian Petzold's cerebral mystery thriller "Yella" with four.

Dorrie's film -- a sweetly tragic story of a terminally ill widower who travels to Japan to fulfill a lifelong dream of his dead wife -- picked up Lola noms in most of the main categories, including best film, best director and best actor for star Elmar Wepper.

Wepper has to be considered a front runner for the best actor Lola but he will be going up against two local veterans: Matthias Brandt for his role as an abused husband in Jan Bonny's "Counterparts" and Ulrich Noethen for his comic turn as a husband stuck in a midlife crisis in Rainer Kaufmann's crossover hit "Runaway Horse."

Nina Hoss picked up a Lola nomination for her starring turn in "Yella," a role for which she won the best actress Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival last year. Also nominated are Dutch actress Carice van Houten for Paul Verhoeven's World War II thriller "Black Book" (a German-Dutch co-production) and Victoria Trauttmansdorff as a husband-beating wife in "Counterparts."

"Cherry Blossoms" has been getting rave reviews from German and international critics since its debut at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival. Many consider it the best film in Dorrie's long career.

The 52-year-old director made her name with light comedies including "Men" (1985) and "The Fisher and His Wife" (2005). While her films were often boxoffice hits, they were usually snubbed come awards time. Dorrie has only one Lola -- or German Film Award -- to her credit: a best screenplay prize in 1985 for her script to "Men."

But this year her movie is the one to beat in what is a surprisingly diverse field.

In the best film category, Dorrie's "Cherry Blossoms" goes up against three critically acclaimed art house productions: Akin's "The Edge of Heaven;" and Robert Thalheim's modern-day Auschwitz story "And Along Come Tourists" and Petzold's "Yella" as well as two mainstream hits: Ralf Westhoff's speed-dating comedy "Shopping" and Dennis Gansel's tale of high school fascism, "The Wave."

Dorrie will likely have the toughest fight in the best director race. There she's up against Fatih Akin, a Lola winner for "Head-On" (2004) and two-time best director nominee Christian Petzold. It's hard to imagine three more different directors. Dorrie is known for her emotional story lines and light comedic touch, Akin for his hard-hitting realism (though "The Edge of Heaven" is, for the director, uncharacteristically poetic) and Petzold for his precise, intellectual approach to material.

Overall the 2008 Lola nominees demonstrate the breadth of current German filmmaking. The intellectual art house fare that typically gets nominated and wins at the German Film Awards is complemented this year by several pictures that could be considered straight entertainment.

They include "The Wave" -- which received three Lola nominations, including best editing (Ueli Christen) and best supporting actor for newcomer Frederic Lau -- a high-concept drama ripe for a U.S. remake; "Shopping," a low budget comedy that gets by on its sharp one-liners and Armin Volckers' "Leroy," nominated in the best children's or youth film category, which tells the off-beat story of an Afro-German youngster growing up among skinheads and intellectuals in 70s Berlin.

While "Cherry Blossoms," "The Edge Of Heaven" and "Yella" battle it out for the main prizes, true lovers of German cinema will also have an eye on the best supporting actress category. It features two of the country's best-known divas: Hanna Schygulla, nominated for "The Edge of Heaven" and "Cherry Blossoms" actress Hannelore Elsner -- competing against Christine Schorn, a television veteran and character actor nominated for Franziska Meletzky's family drama "According to the Plan."

The winners of the 2008 Lolas will be announced at a ceremony April 25 in Berlin.

A complete list of Lola nominees follows:

Best film
"Cherry Blossoms" (read THR's review)
"And Along Come Tourists" (review)
"Edge of Heaven" (review)
"Shopping"
"The Wave"
"Yella" (review)

Best children or youth film

"Leroy"
"Max Minsky und ich"

Best documentary

"To the Limit"
"Prinzessinnenbad"

Best actress

Nina Hoss ("Yella")
Carice van Houten ("Black Book") (review)
Valerie Koch ("The Calling Game")
Victoria Trauttmansdorff ("Counterparts") (review)

Best actor

Matthias Brandt ("Counterparts")
Ulrich Noethen ("Runaway Horse")
Elmar Wepper ("Cherry Blossoms")

Best supporting actress

Hannelore Elsner ("Cherry Blossoms")
Christine Schorn ("According to the Plan")
Hanna Schygulla ("Edge of Heaven")

Best supporting actor

Justus von Dohnanyi ("Bis zum Ellenbogen")
Herbert Knaup ("Du bist nicht allein")
Frederick Lau ("The Wave")

Best director

Fatih Akin ("Edge of Heaven")
Doris Dorrie ("Cherry Blossoms")
Christian Petzold ("Yella")

Best screenplay

Fatih Akin ("Edge of Heaven")
Doris Dorrie ("Cherry Blossoms")
Ralf Westhoff ("Shopping")

Best cinematography

Hans Fromm ("Yella")
Daniel Gottschalk ("Trade") (review)
Benedict Neuenfels ("Love Life")

Best editing

Andrew Bird ("Edge of Heaven")
Ueli Christen ("The Wave")
Hansjorg WeiƟbrich ("Trade")

Best production design

Christian M. Goldbeck ("Love Life")
Eduard Krajewski ("Eight Miles High!")
Erwin Prib ("Absurdistan") (review)

Best costume design

Sabine Greunig ("Cherry Blossoms")
Petra Kray ("Eight Miles High!")
Yan Tax ("Black Book")

Best score

Ali N. Askin ("Leroy")
Annette Focks ("Runaway Horse")
Ralf Wengenmayr ("Lissi and the Wild Emperor")

Best sound design

Dirk W. Jakob, Martin Steyer, Pawel Wdwovczak ("Trade")
Joe Knauer, Max Rammler, Erik Mischijew, Matz Muller ("To The Limit")
Frank Kruse, Matthias Lempert, Fabian Schmidt, Carsten Richter, Hanse Warns ("Die drei Rauber")
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