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Kidnapping, Robber big winners at first Austrian Film Awards

Separately, nominees announced for Swiss Film Prize.

Andreas Prochaska’s comedy The Unintentional Kidnapping Of Elfriede Ott (Die unabsichtliche Entfuehrung der Frau Elfriede Ott) and Benjamin Heisenberg’s The Robber (Der Räuber) [pictured] were the big winners at the first Austrian Film Awards presented in Vienna at a low-key ceremony on Saturday evening.

Prochaska’s film, which was the most successful local production at Austria’s box office in 2010 with almost 200,000 admissions, took home the prizes for its three nominated categories: Best Music, Best Screenplay and Best Feature Film, while Heisenberg’s drama – nominated in seven categories – received awards for Best Director, Best Lead Actor and Best Sound Design.

The members of the Austrian Film Academy passed over Michael Glawogger’s Das Vaterspiel and Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel’s La Pivellina and awarded only one prize to Jessica Hausner’s Lourdes (editing) and Oskar Roehler’s Jew Süss (make-up) which had both been nominated in four categories.

Meanwhile, Houchang and Tom-Dariusch Allahyari’s Bock For President about the legendary social activist Ute Bock was a popular winner in the Best Documentary category as was coop99’s Martin Gschlacht for Best Cinematography in recognition of his work on Shirin Neshat’s Women Without Men.

In addition, Barbara Romaner received the Best Actress award for her first film role as Alma Mahler in Percy Adlon’s Mahler auf der Couch.

Originally, the Austrian Film Academy had planned to launch the Austrian Film Award in a Golden Globes-style ceremony directed by Oscar-winner Stefan Ruzowitzky with a telecast by broadcaster ORF. However, public spending cuts by the Austrian government meant that the organizers had to forgo such ambitious plans and restrict themselves to an hour-long ceremony in Vienna’s Theater Odeon.

The Academy will be now be continuing negotiations with the responsible ministries to secure the financing for next year’s gala ceremony to be broadcast in ORF.

Meanwhile, this week saw Switzerland’s Federal Office of Culture (BAK) announce the 35 nominations in nine categories for the Swiss Film Prize “Quartz 2011” which will be presented at a gala ceremony in Lucerne on March 12.

Around 300 members of the Swiss Film Academy had voted on some 120 entries, and a nine-person committee, including distributor-producer Pascal Trächslin, director Ruxandra Zenide and Solothurn Film Days chief Ivo Kummer, then selected the final lineup of nominees based on the Academy’s recommendations with a total of CHF 425,000 in prize money being paid out to the nominated films and individuals.

Three films – Michael Steiner’s Alpine western Sennentuntschi, Peter Luisi’s comedy Der Sandmann and Mike Schaerer’s Stationspiraten – received three nominations apiece.

Sennentuntschi, which was the most successful Swiss film of 2010 with almost 140,000 admissions, has been nominated in the Best Film, Best Actor and Best Musical Score categories, while Der Sandmann – which opens in Swiss German cinemas this summer – is in the running for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. Last week, Luisi’s film won the Audience Award at the Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival in Germany’s Saarbrücken.

Stationspiraten – which won the Audience Award at last year’s Zurich Film Festival - is nominated for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Other films nominated include Switzerland’s 2011 Oscar entry La Petite Chambre, Silvio Soldini’s Cosa Voglio Di Piu, and the documentaries Cleveland Versus Wall Street by Jean-Stephane Bron (which has also been nominated in the Cesars’ documentary category in France), Nicolas Wadimoff’s Aisheen (Still Alive In Gaza), and Guru – Bhagwan, His Secretary & His Bodyguard by Sabine Gisiger and Beat Häner.

Moreover, director Peter Luisi has a second film in the running for this year’s Swiss Film Prize with a nomination for his 30-minute short film Die Praktikantin.

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