‘Harmonists’ tops German pic awards

Period drama takes home five nods

BERLIN — At a ceremony held in white tents at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Joseph Vilsmaier’s period pic “Comedian Harmonists” swept through this year’s German Film Awards. The semi-musical set in the ’20s and ’30s collected trophies for best film, actor, supporting actress, production design and editing.

Based on the true story of a popular a cappella group forced to dissolve during the Third Reich because several members were Jewish, “Comedian Harmonists” has also been the strongest German box office performer so far this year, selling 2.6 million tickets since its Christmas release.

Tom Tykwer’s moody Alpine thriller “Winterschlaefer” and Peter Lichtefeld’s German-Finnish love story “Zugvoegel” shared the runner-up silver award. Wim Wenders received a nod as best director for his psychological study “The End of Violence,” while Katja Riemann was named best actress for her performances in “Die Apothekerin” and “Bandits.”

Heinz Badewitz, director of the Hof Film Festival, and U.S. actor Gregory Peck were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards. The 82-year-old Peck accepted his trophy live via satellite.

German Minister of the Interior Manfred Kanther asked the prominent guests gathered at the Brandenburg Gate not to despair at the low market share of homegrown productions so far this year. “German films have a hard time keeping up with big-budget Hollywood movies,” Kanther acknowledged. “But German films have proven that quality and success with audiences don’t just depend on the amount of money spent. The gate has swung open.”

Other awards:

  • Actor, Ulrich Noethen, “Comedian Harmonists”

  • Supporting actress, Meret Becker, “Comedian Harmonists”

  • Supporting actor, Peter Lohmeyer, “Zugvoegel”

  • Cinematography, Frank Griebe for “Winterschlaefer” and “Zugvoegel”

  • Editing, Peter R. Adam, “Comedian Harmonists”

  • Production design: Rolf Zehetbauer, “Comedian Harmonists”

  • Foreign Film (shared): “The Full Monty,” “Brassed Off”