Lolas show German film has come of age

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BERLIN -- German film has come of age, as the range and scope of the nominees for this year's Lola awards clearly showed. The films nominated for the 2007 Lolas ranged from Tom Tykwer's epic "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" to Chris Kraus' intimate "Four Minutes" to the charming low-budget comedy of Markus H. Rosenmueller's "Grave Decisions."

The Lola awards ceremony, held Friday night in Berlin, even had the advantage of an underdog winner. Kraus' "Four Minutes," the story of an aging piano teacher helping a musical prodigy that is serving time for murder in a women's prison, beat out Tykwer's heavily favored "Perfume."

But the Lola event is still going through growing pains.

When the German Film Academy took over the running of the Lolas three years ago, its goal was to make the show an event on the model of the Oscars or Britain's BAFTAs.

If Friday's ceremony is any indication, the Lolas still have a long way to go.

Broadcast in primetime on German pubcaster ZDF, the Lolas kept to a tight, hour and a half running time by ironing out all humor and spontaneity from the awards process.

Host Michael "Bully" Herbig and celebrity presenters stuck to their scripts and the house band quickly strummed off any winner exceeding the time allotted for their acceptance speech.

One notable exception was Monica Bleibtreu, who won the best actress Lola for "Four Minutes" and took the stage to a standing ovation. After quieting the band, she preceded to give a heartfelt thanks to her son, actor Moritz Bleibtreu, "for giving me a sense of humor -- I definitely needed it."

Another emotional moment -- and standing ovation -- came as Armin Mueller-Stahl accepted his lifetime achievement Lola from fellow German acting veteran Mario Adorf.

But the only real laughs came from Markus H. Rosenmueller. The first-time director played up the fact that his film, "Grave Decisions" was shot in a thick Bavarian dialect that made it almost incomprehensible, even to many Germans.

"It's a message of hope for all those Bavarian school kids who got a D in grammar," Rosemuller quipped, accepting his Lola for best screenplay. "You can still make it."
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