'Above Suspicion' tops Cologne Conference

Work of Roman Polanski honored at media confab

COLOGNE, Germany -- Classic storytelling won out over experimentation at this year's TV festival cum media confab the Cologne Conference, with ITV's detective series "Above Suspicion" taking the event's top honor, the TV Spielfilm Prize.

Starring Kelly Reilly as a stiletto-heel-wearing police detective, "Above Suspicion" is familiar ground for writer-producer Lynda La Plante, creator of the hit "Prime Suspect" series, who accepted the prize at the closing ceremony Saturday night.

The Hollywood Reporter Award, a prize for up-and-coming German producers showing international potential, went to Max Wiedemann and Quirin Berg, whose flair for Hollywood-style filmmaking is evident not only in their Oscar-winning feature "The Lives of Others" but also in local TV events such as "The Inferno" and "Factor 8" for German channel Pro7.

The 2009 German Casting Prize went to Nina Haun, casting director for local production giant UFA Film & TV, whose recent work includes the casting of Berlinale Silver Bear winner "Everyone Else" and the Hildegard Knef biopic "Hilde."

But the one classic storyteller missing Saturday night was director Roman Polanski. The Oscar-winning director of "The Pianist" (2002) was to be honored with the Cologne City Film Award. But Polanski remains in custody in Zurich after being arrested last week on a decades-old sex charge.

The NRW Film Board and the city of Cologne, who sponsored the prize, refused to take sides in the heated debate surrounding Polanski's arrest, saying only that the prize was to honor Polanski's body of work.