First Steps nominees announced

Films include unflinching looks at drugs, prison violence

COLOGNE, Germany -- The next generation of German directors likes a bit of rough.

Nominations, announced today, for the First Steps Award for debut films, includes unflinching looks at drug abuse, prison violence and religious unrest.

Philip Koch's "Picco," which debuted in Cannes and is being sold by France's Rezo Films, is a harrowing tale of a juvenile delinquent systematically tortured and killed by his cellmates in a German prison. Oliver Kienle's "Bis aufs Blut" follows two friends and drug dealers who survive the hell of youth prison and emerge ready to make one final deal. And Burhan Qurbani's "Shahada," a competition entry at the Berlin Festival this year, sets the religious ferment of Germany's Muslim community against the background of a hostile, often violent, Berlin.

The other two nominees for First Step's feature length film prize provide some relief: Sebastian Stern's "Die Hummel" (Bumblebee) is a comedy about a down-on-his-luck cosmetics salesman who tries to recruit his old high-school sweetheart to shill his face creams.

Sophie Heldmann's "Satte Farben vor Schwarz" (Bright On Black) is an Autumn-Autumn romance between an old married couple, played by Bruno Ganz and Sente Berger.

Winners of the 2010 First Steps Award will be announced August 24 in Berlin.
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