'Blossoms' in full bloom

Dorrie film lands six Lola noms

The German Film Academy handed veteran director Doris Dorrie the equivalent of a golden bouquet, nominating her drama "Cherry Blossoms" for six Lolas, Germany's highest film honors.

Fatih Akin's cross-cultural drama "The Edge of Heaven" collected five nominations and Christian Petzold's cerebral mystery thriller "Yella" received 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 noms in most of the main categories, including best film, director and actor for star Elmar Wepper.

Wepper, a front-runner for best actor, faces two local veterans in the category: 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 nom 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 in the category 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."

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

The director made her name with light comedies including "Men" (1985) and "The Fisher and His Wife" (2005). While her films often were boxoffice hits, they usually were snubbed come awards time (HR 3-28/30). Dorrie has only one Lola to her credit — a best screenplay prize in 1985 for her "Men" script.

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

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

Dorrie likely will have the toughest fight in the best director race, where she faces Akin, a Lola winner for "Head-On" (2004), and two-time best director nominee 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 "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 German filmmaking. The intellectual art-house fare that typically gets nominated and wins at the German Film Awards is complemented this year by several films that could be considered straight entertainment.

They include "Wave" — which received three Lola noms, including best editing (Ueli Christen) and best supporting actor for newcomer Frederick 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 offbeat story of an Afro-German youngster growing up among skinheads and intellectuals in '70s Berlin.

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

The winners will be announced at an April 25 ceremony in Berlin. A complete list of Lola nominees can be found at THR.com.