Link's drama tops German Film Awards

BERLIN — “Nowhere in Africa,” Caroline Link’s drama of a Jewish-German family who emigrate to Africa in the 1930s, swept the German Film Awards Friday, picking up golden Lolas for film and director.

Andreas Dresen’s “Grill Point” and “Heaven” from Tom Tykwer received runners-up silver Lolas for film in a list of awards slammed by the industry for its predictability.

“There was not one surprise in the entire ceremony,” commented one industry insider.

Young up-and-comer Daniel Bruhl won actor kudos for his starring roles in Benjamin Quabeck’s coming-of-age story “No Regrets”; “The White Sound,” Hans Weingartner’s study of schizophrenia; and Zoltan Spirandelli’s “Vaya con dios,” about a young monk torn between faith and earthly desires.

Martina Gedeck took the actress nod for her portrayal of a passionate cook in Sandra Nettelbeck’s “Mostly Martha.”

Supporting actress went to Eva Mattes for her role in tyke film “The Slurb,” while Matthias Habich picked up the supporting actor gong for “Nowhere in Africa.”

Michael Herbig, who wrote, directed and starred in last year’s mega-hit “Manitou’s Shoe,” won a special prize as well as the audience awards for both film and star of the year.

Accepting his prizes, Herbig poked fun at the German film establishment’s reluctance to reward successful comedies. “I am happy to make films for moviegoers,” he added, and said that movies with mass appeal were also art.

With a total box office of €62 million ($59 million), “Manitou’s Shoe” became the biggest German hit ever last year.

Ben Verbong’s “The Slurb” and Andres Veiel’s “Black Box Germany” won for children’s film and documentary, respectively.

Additional prizes went to Michael Haneke’s “The Piano Player” for foreign film; Gernot Roll for cinematography and Nicki Reiser for musical score for “Nowhere in Africa”; and Hana Muellner for editing “A Map of the Heart.”

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder opened the ceremony, held for the first time in Berlin’s new Tempodrom venue. He began his lengthy opening speech by paying tribute to revolutionary director Rainer Werner Fassbinder on the 20th anniversary of his death.

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