Munich film festival to honor Kekilli, Zbanic

'Women Without Men' receives honorary award

COLOGNE, Germany -- Two of Europe's most distinctive female film talents, German actress Sibel Kekilli and Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic, will be honored with the top two awards at this year's Munich Film Festival.

Kekilli takes Munich's best actress prize for her comeback role in Feo Aladag's "When We Leave," where she plays a Muslim woman rejected by her family after she defies her abusive husband. Kekilli's performance has already earned her honors in Tribeca and at this year's German Film Awards, where she took the best actress nod.

Zbanic's latest, "On the Path," has won Munich's top prize, the Bernhard Wicki Award. The film also focuses on the plight of a woman struggling with her Muslim heritage. In this case it is an urbanite Bosnian whose husband embraces Islamic fundamentalism.

In case anyone didn't get Munich's feminist message, the festival will also give a special, honorary award to Iranian filmmaker Shirin Neshat, whose "Women Without Men" won the Silver Lion at Venice last year.

Munich's inaugural newcomer award will go to German director Philip Koch for his hard-hitting debut "Picco." Based on a true story, the film unflinchingly chronicles the torture and killing of a young offender by his fellow inmates. "Picco" premiered in Cannes in the Director's Fortnight sidebar.

The 2010 Munich Film Festival runs June 25-July 3.