Christian Petzold's The State I Am In received the top honour of a golden Lola - as the prize is now known - at the 52nd German Film Awards ceremony in Berlin. The award carries a premium of up to $440,000 (DM1m) to be invested in a future project.
Oliver Hirschbiegel's hard-hitting Das Experiment walked away with five Lolas - in the categories of best actor, best supporting actor, best production design, and the audience awards for best film and best actor.
The event was attended by around 1,400 guests, including Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung (who accepted the award for best foreign film on behalf of director Wong Kar-wai), Monica Bellucci, Hannelore Elsner, Volker Schloendorff, Michael Ballhaus and Bernd Eichinger.
This year's awards ceremony was the first to be opened by a Germany Federal Chancellor. In his address, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that he didn't regard it "automatically as a sign of a profound crisis in German cinema if there hasn't been a German film invited to the competition in Cannes for a few years. It isn't the case that German film-makers and German actors haven't had any success.
"As far as the film industry, the knowhow, and the infrastructure are concerned, the prerequisites are there to be able to realise outstanding, large and - as has been seen - also very expensive films in Germany," he declared. "And there really isn't any lack of talent, as the many awards for [German] newcomers at international festivals show."
While rejecting calls for the introduction of quotas to boost the local industry's market share - "I think that protectionism of whatever kind is not very helpful in the international film industry" - Schroeder suggested, to the enthusiastic support of the industry professionals at the ceremony, that the private and public German television channels should be required to contribute much more to the German Federal Film Board (FFA) than the present $9.7m (DM22m) each year.
In addition, echoing a debate running through the German press in the run-up to this year's awards ceremony, Schroeder noted that more emphasis should be given in the national film funding structures to honouring commercial success. "80% of French film productions are backed according to the criterion of economic success, whereas here it is only 20%. In other words, the chances that a film is successful are probably reduced if one is largely indifferent as to whether the film is a success."
The winners: 52nd German Film Awards, 2001
Best feature film
The State I Am In (Die Innere Sicherheit) (Gold)
The Princess And The Warrior (Der Krieger Und Die Kaiserin) (Silver)
Esther Gronenborn, alaska.de
Katrin Sass, Heidi M
Moritz Bleibtreu, Das Experiment/In July (Im Juli)
Best supporting actress
Antje Westermann, Gran Paradiso
Best supporting actor
Justus von Dohnayi, Das Experiment
Best foreign film
In The Mood For Love, Wong Kar-wai
Havanna, Mi Amor
Best children's and youth film
The Little Vampire
Outstanding single achievements
Andrea Kessler and Uli Hanisch, production designers, Das Experiment
Gero Steffen, cinematographer, Frau2 Sucht HappyEnd
Christian Lonk, editor, alaska.de
Animator Curt Linda
German film of the year: Das Experiment
Actor of the year: Moritz Bleibtreu