No 'Stranger' to Oldenburg honors

Emily Atef film takes home three awards

OLDENBURG, Germany -- Emily Atef's "The Stranger in Me" proved to be a triple whammy at this year's Oldenburg International Film Festival, walking away with the German Independence Award for best German film, the Otto-Sprenger Award for best film from northern Germany and the Audience Award.

The jury -- comprising LeVar Burton, filmmaker John Gallagher, producer Jen Gatien, actress Fanny Bastien and producer Rosana Coutinho -- also singled out two performances for special mention: Irina Potapenko's gripping portrait of a doomed prostitute in Gotz Spielmann's "Revanche" and Susanne Wolff for her roles in Jan Schutte's "Die Glucklichen" and the ubiquitous "Stranger in Me."

Other highlights of the festival, which celebrated its 15th anniversary this year, included Chris Eigeman's pool hall drama "Turn the River," Chee Keong Cheung's London-based martial-arts film "Bodyguard: A New Beginning" and Burton's hospice comedy "Reach for Me," which had Saturday's gala audience in tears and got standing ovations for lead actor Seymour Cassel.

Retrospectives were held for director-screenwriter James Toback, Michael Wadleigh ("Woodstock," "Wolfen") and German pop star and former actor Marius Muller-Westernhagen.