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Oh Boy wins six Lolas

Oh Boy takes home six Lolas while Cloud Atlas bags five.Separately, European film industry have been engaged in a game of political ping pong with Brussels.

Jan Ole Gerster’s debut feature Oh Boy was the big winner at this year’s German Film Awards on Saturday [27], taking home six statuettes including the Golden Lola for best film.

The Golden Lola includes an award of €500,000 for producers Marcos Kantis of Schiwago Film and Alexander Wadouh of Chromosom Filmproduktion.

Gerster’s €300,000 graduation film from Berlin’s German Film & Television Academy also received Lolas for direction and screenplay as well as prizes for lead actor Tom Schilling [pictured], supporting actor Michael Gwisdek and film score.

Meanwhile, the evening’s most nominated film, Cloud Atlas by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski siblings – which started the night on nine nominations compared to Oh Boy’s eight – was only recognised in the technical categories of editing, cinematography, production design and make-up.

Producers Stefan Arndt and Grant Hill put on a brave face and were certain to be sorely disappointed after their achievement of raising the $100m budget was ignored by the 1,400-strong membership of the German Film Academy for one of the best film Lolas. The Bronze and Silver awards carry awards of €375,000 and €425,000, respectively.

There was also a particular irony in the fact that the Cloud Atlas producer X Filme Creative Pool’s distribution arm X Verleih also distributed Oh Boy, which has been seen by more than 250,000 German cinema-goers and could receive another boost from the triumph at the Lolas.

Moreover producer Marcos Kantis had previously worked at X Filme and Gerster had been an intern at the Berlin powerhouse for two years.

Evidently, the Film Academy members wanted to give signs of encouragement to the younger generation of producers by awarding its Silver Lola for best film to Heimatfilm’s Bettina Brokemper and Johannes Rexin for their production of veteran director Margarethe von Trotta’s Hannah Arendt and the Bronze Lola to Rohfilm’s Karsten Stöter and Benny Drechsel for Australian director Cate Shortland’s German language film Lore.

The Lola for best documentary went to Markus Imhoof’s More Than Honey, which has become Switzerland’s most successful documentary of all time and has already posted 165,000 admissions in Germany for Senator Film, while Leo Khasin’s Kaddish For A Friend was named best children’s film.

Barbara Sukowa’s portrayal of Hannah Arendt earned her the Lola for best lead actress and prompted her to note the poignancy of the award, “which somewhat older members of the audience may understand.” Sukowa was referring to her title role in Fassbinder’s Lola in 1981

Veteran actress Christine Schorn could not hide her delight for being chosen for best supporting actress for “yet another dying granny role” in André Erkau’s Das Leben Ist Nichts Für Feiglinge.

The Lola for best sound design went to the team of Julian Pölsler’s The Wall (Die Wand) and an online vote saw the audience award go to Matthias Schweighofer’s rom-com Schlussmacher.

An emotional highlight came with the standing ovation by the 1,800-strong audience in Berlin’s Friedrichstadtpalast for another iconic figure of New German Cinema, Werner Herzog, the recipient of this year’s Honorary Award, who stressed that his filmmaking and acting career was far from over and that he had several projects on the boil. At the same time, he paid homage to his younger half brother Lucki Stipetic, who has produced and handled the sales of almost all of his films.

  • In the run-up to the Lolas, the European film industry played a game of ping pong with Brussels’ Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht about the exclusion of audiovisual services from the forthcoming free trade talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US.

At the start of last week a group of European professional organisations – Eurocinema, Europa Cinemas, Europa Distribution, Europa International, FIAD, SAA and UNIC – declared its support for a petition launched by 80 European filmmakers “to convince the Member States and Europe’s decision-makers of the stakes as well as the risks that such a broad negotiation mandate would bring for cultural diversity.”

However, Commissioner de Gucht issued a memorandum the same day, stressing that “Europe will not put its cultural exception at risk through trade negotiations. Nothing in the free trade agreement with the United States will harm – or even have the potential to harm – Europe’s cultural diversity. The negotiations will duly take into account the different sectoral sensitivities of the European Union. The audiovisual sector has a clear place among these sensitive sectors.”

The Brussels-based Society Of Audiovisual Authors (SAA) reacted by saying that Gucht’s declaration of support “while welcome, does not take audiovisual off the negotiating table. If the Commission’s commitment is as strong as the Commissioner de Gucht’s words, then the European Commission should formally exclude audiovisual, including for online, from the negotiation mandate.”

Last week also saw the German film industry throwing its weight behind French colleagues’ lobbying campaign with declarations from the German Producers’ Alliance, the seven main regional film funds and the German Federal Film Board (FFA) and the German Film Critics Association.

Alexander Thies, chairman of the German Producers’ Alliance, argued that “without funding, without the ‘cultural exception’, there would no longer be any European cinema, no Oscar winners like Amour, no European blockbusters like Intouchables,” while the German film funders wrote to Chancellor Angela Merkel to highlight the dangers for the German cinema of such a policy.

Alan Parker, president of the Federation Of European Film Directors, put pen to paper to ask European Commission president José Manuel Barriso for “clear justification for the Commission’s refusal to insist on the cultural exception in the forthcoming trade negotiations.

“Losing or weakening audiovisual support schemes as part of a trade deal would cause not only cultural but economic damage, and certain loss of employment,” Parker wrote.

He also asked for a face-to-face meeting with Barroso „”in the next few weeks” to ask for the “cast iron assurances that European directors are seeking.”

However, the European Film Academy, which unites 2,800 European film professionals remained alarmingly absent from the various declarations, preferring instead to announce the creation of a new award category for best European comedy for the 2013 European Film Awards rather than make a stand for the future wellbeing of the European film industry.

Nevertheless, The European Producers Club’s board – Chris Curling, Ira von Gienanth and Marco Chimenz – wrote to MEP Vital Moreira ahead of a vote by the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee on a resolution he had prepared as rapporteur on TTIP.

The resolution – which had attracted 198 amendments – was adopted by the committee members with 23 votes in favour, five against and one abstention, while an amendment proposed by MEP Henri Weber calling for the exclusion of cultural and audiovisual services from future negotiations was carried by a slim majority of 14 votes to 11, with five abstentions.

Weber had submitted a new clause declaring that it was “essential for the EU and its Member States to maintain the possibility of preserving and developing their cultural and audiovisual policies, and to do so in the context of their existing laws, standards and agreements; calls, therefore, for the exclusion of cultural and audiovisual services, including those provided online, to be clearly stated in the negotiating mandate.”

Speaking at a press conference after the Committee’s meeting, Moreira pointed out that he had not included a cultural exception in his resolution. “Personally, I don’t think this is very helpful. Of course, there are sensitive issues but the room for negotiation is very limited, one of them being cultural and audiovisual. Cultural diversity is not in question [because] it is Article 3 of the Treaty of the European Union. If any agreement went against cultural diversity, it would go against our constitution.

“The [cultural] exclusion would prevent our industry of audiovisual services from the benefits of trade opening without by any means jeopardising the cultural diversity of the Union,” Moreira argued. “If we start excluding chapters from the agreement, of course, the other side will do the same. The best way to start the negotiations is not to define any exclusions at the outset.”

This resolution will now be debated and put to vote in a plenary session of the European Parliament in May, although this assembly only has a consultative role. The EU Member States are then expected to authorize the European Commission to start the talks on the TTIP with its US opposite numbers in June.

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