Micha Lewinsky's Der Freund was named Best Film at this year's Swiss Film Awards which were presented for the 11th timelast night at the Solothurn Film Days.
The drama about a shy outsider who poses as the boyfriend of a woman after her sudden death and is welcomed into her family beat off competition for the new Quartz trophy from such films as the animation feature Max & Co and the Locarno 2007 competition film Fuori Dalle Corde.
In addition, the newly created prize for Best Emerging Actor or Actress went to Philippe Graber for his performance as the boyfriend, his first lead role in a feature film. Der Freund is released theatrically in Switzerland by Frenetic Films.
The prize for Best Documentary went to Stefan Schwietert's Heimatklaenge portraying three artists who develop traditional Swiss music in very different and unconventional ways, while the Best Screenplay award was presented to writer-director Jeanne Waltz for Pas Douce which won, among others, the FIPRESCI Prize at last year's San Francisco International Film Festival.
The winners of the Swiss Film Prize 2008 are:
Best Fiction Film - Der Freund, dir: Micha Lewinsky
Best Documentary - Heimatklaenge, dir: Stefan Schwietert
Best Screenplay - Pas Douce (Jeanne Waltz)
Best Actor - Bruno Cathomas (Chicken Mexicaine)
Best Actress - Sabine Timoteo (Nebenwirkungen)
Best Emerging Actor or Actress: Philippe Graber (Der Freund)
Best Short Film - Auf der Strecke, dir: Reto Caffi
Special Jury Award - Breakout, dir: Mike Eschmann (music by Stress and Mich Gerber)
Ahead of last night's awards ceremony, the organisers announced that a Swiss Film Academy will be constituted in the coming weeks with initially around 200 members made up of past winners of the Swiss Film Prize and representatives of other professional groups from the Swiss film industry.
As from next year, the Academy's members would participate in an online voting for the nominations of the 2009 Swiss Film Prize in ten categories: feature film, documentary, short film, animation film, screenplay, actress, actor, emerging talent, and - as new additions - film score and film technology. It is not yet decided whether all of the members will vote on the final winners or if a jury will be elected from the Academy membership to undertake the final deliberations.
In any case, this year will have been the last time that the Swiss Film Prize's ceremony was held during the Solothurn Film Days. As from 2009, the nominations will be announced at the festival, but a gala ceremony, organised by the national broadcaster SRG SSR, would be held around six weeks later at a venue to be announced.