Weingartner’s Hut In The Woods will open festival in Saarbrucken.

World premieres of nine new German films have been selected for the feaure film and documentary competition sections of this year’s Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival  (January 16-22, 2012) in Saarbrücken which will be opened with Hans Weingartner’s latest film Hut In The Woods [pictured].

The world premieres include Anika Wangard’s drama Crashkurs set against the backdrop of the current financial crisis; Felix Stienz’s road movie Puppe, Icke & Der Dicke; Sarah Judith Mettke’s Transpapa about a young teenager’s discovery that her absent father is now living as a woman; Mareike Wegener’s artist portrait Mark Lombardi – Kunst und Konspiration; and Regine Dura’s documentary Weisses Blut (White Blood) tracing the lives of two Germans who were brought to Cape Town in 1948 as orphans to give a boost to the “Aryan” minority in South Africa; and Sobo Swobodnik’s Der Papst ist kein Jeansboy about the Austrian “phenomenon” Hermes Phettberg.

Artistic director Philipp Bräuer’s selection for the two competitions is also set to feature such films as Jan Zabeil’s The River Was Once A Man, Linus de Paoli’s Dr Ketel, Uta Arning’s Snowchild, Markus Schleinzer’s Michael and Matthias Bittner’s Not In My Backyard which were seen at festivals in San Sebastian, Zurich, Moscow, Cannes and Locarno, respectively.

This year’s sidebars include a five-film tribute on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Oberhausen Manifesto on 28 February 1962, a showcase of short films made by students taking part in the Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris between the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy and La Fémis, and a selection of shorts by students from New York’s School of Visual Arts under the direction of Saarbrücken-born Manfred Kirchheimer.

In addition, the festival’s Industry Days are lining up masterclasses with producers Dirk Beinhold and Martin Lehwald, and marketing expert Christoph Ott as well as speed dating sessions.

An innovation at this year’s edition is the creation of a new honorary award to recognise services to young German-language cinema. The festival will present its first honorary award ahead of Weingartner’s film on Jan 16 to Alfred Holighaus, managing director of the German Film Academy. Holighaus was previously responsible for establishing and running the Berlinale’s Perspektive Deutsches Kino sidebar from 2001 to 2010 before moving to head the Film Academy.