COLOGNE, Germany – Oscar winner Susanne Bier (In A Better World) will add another prize to her crowded trophy case when she is honored later this month with the Bernhard Wicki Film Prize – the Bridge, the Munich International Film Festival’s top award. The prize, which comes with a $14,000 cash purse, is named after famed German director Bernhard Wicki, whose film The Bridge (1959) is considered a landmark in anti-war cinema. The honor is traditionally given to filmmakers whose work has a strong political message. Previous winners include Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck for The Lives of Others and Marc Rothemund for Nazi resistance film Sophie Scholl – The Final Days.
“At the core of (Bier’s In A Better World) are love, revenge, justice and the fragility of interpersonal relationships,” said the jury, which included former prizewinners Rothemund and director Marco Kreuzpaintner (Trade). “That In A Better World is not pedagogic but is as complicated and inconclusive as life itself, and that it even risks a happy end, makes (the film) a stirring and valuable life drama. The Danish director Susanne Bier has acheived a masterful work, told in elegantly interwoven, gripping stories and facinating images, carried through with an excellent acting ensemble.”
Bier will receive her prize in Munich June 30.
Bier, who has made her international reputation with such gripping human dramas as In A Better World, Things We Lost In The Fire and Brothers, is returning to her comedic roots for her next film. The Danish director has begun shooting All You Need Is Love, her first romantic comedy in 12 years. The feature stars Pierce Brosnan and In A Better World‘s Trine Dyrholm.
Munich’s up-and-comer honor, the Nachwuchspreis, will this year go to German directors Yasemin Samdereli, for her cross-culture comedy hit Almanya, and to Maggie Peren for her drama Color of the Ocean.
Oscar-winning actor Maximilian Schell (Judgement at Nuremberg) will receive Munich’s lifetime achievement honor.
For the first time this year, the Munich Festival will present a special prize to Cinema Jenin, a project started by director Marcus Vetter, whose award-winning documentary The Heart of Jenin explores the story of a Palestinian boy shot by Israeli soldiers whose father donate his son’s organs to Israeli children as a gesture of peace. The Cinema Jenin project successfully lobbied to open a cinema in Jenin that had been shut since the start of the first intifada in 1987.
The 2011 Munich International Film Festival runs June 24 – July 2.