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BERLIN — Andreas Dresen‘s Stopped on Track, the moving story of a man suffering from terminal brain cancer, was the big winner at this year’s German Film Awards, the Lolas, taking the top prize for best film, best director for Dresen, best actor for Milan Peschel and best supporting actor for Otto Meillies.
The low-key drama, which won the Un Certain Regard prize for best film at its debut at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, beat out Christian Petzold‘s period drama Barbara, about a doctor living in 1980s communist East Germany, which had been tipped by many to take the best film nod. Barbara, however, did win the runner-up Silver Lola.
Roland Emmerich‘s Oscar-nominated Shakespeare conspiracy thriller Anonymous, whose $30 million budget dwarfs that of the other five best film nominees combined, took home a leading six Lolas, mostly in technical categories. Anna J. Foerster, who first worked as a second unit director on Emmerich’s hits The Day After Tomorrow and 10,000 B.C. won the Lola for best cinematography; Peter R. Adam won his third Lola for best editing; Sebastian Krawinkel won for best set design for re-creating Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre at Studio Babelsberg outside Berlin; Hubert Bartholomae and Manfred Banach won best sound design; Lisy Christl, whose opulent Elizabethan costumes earned her an Oscar nomination, snatched up a Lola as well; and best makeup went to the Anonymous team of Björn Rehbein and Heike Merker.
David Wnendt’s skinhead drama Combat Girls missed out on the top prize, but he won the best screenplay Lola for his story of a 20-year-old neo-Nazi who begins to question her racist ideology. The film became frighteningly prescient last year when a real neo-Nazi terror group went on a killing spree, murdering at least 10 people, mostly of Turkish and Greek origin. Combat Girls star Alina Levshin beat out the more established Sandra Hüller and Steffi Kühnert to take the best actress Lola for her scarily realistic portrayal of a neo-Nazi. Combat Girls also won the Bronze Lola for second runner-up in the best film race.
The best documentary prize went to Gerhard Richard Painting from director Corinna Belz, an intimate portrait of the legendary German visual artist.
Johannes Schmid‘s Winter’s Daughter won the award for best children’s film.
First-time director Tim Fehlbaum‘s apocalyptic sci-fi film Hell, which Emmerich executive produced, won a single Lola: best film score for composer Lorenz Dangel.
Stage and screen veteran Dagmar Manzel took the best supporting actress Lola for her performance in Christian Schwochow‘s drama Cracks in the Shell.
The inaugural Bernd Eichinger Prize, named for the late producer of Downfall, The Name of the Rose and Resident Evil, went to multihyphenate Michael “Bully” Herbig, one of Germany’s most successful comedic actors and directors.
The most moving moment of the night came when the audience sprang to its feet to give a standing ovation for cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, who received a lifetime achievement award. Before he took the stage, the German Film Academy screened a short film highlighting his work and featuring onscreen tributes from Martin Scorsese, John Travolta, Dustin Hoffman and others.
“Danke, danke. Please stop,” said the 76-year old lenser of Gangs of New York and Goodfellas as he cradled his golden Lola trophy. “This prize is very important to me because it comes from Germany. And I come from Germany, and I would never have had the success I’ve had in Hollywood if I hadn’t had the experience and chances I received in Germany.”
And the ceremony’s biggest laughs came courtesy of Austrian comedian Josef Harder, who highlighted the real achievements of the German film industry.
“Actors do something amazing,” he said. “You create these characters on the screen and ordinary people watching think, ‘If that loser is a film star, there’s nothing I can’t do!’ “
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