The German Film Academy’s procedure for nominating this year’s German Film Awards has come under fire from the arthouse cinemas association AG Kino - Gilde deutscher Filmkunsttheater.
In an unprecedented open letter, published just days ahead of the gala awards ceremony on May 12, AG Kino claimed this year’s shortlist and nomination procedure showed “an increasing lack of direction in the German Film Academy as far as German cinema concerned”.
The cinema owners were particularly critical of the fact Edward Berger’s multiple Bafta and Oscar-winner All Quiet On The Western Front for Netflix had been nominated in 12 categories. They described the film’s four-week run in German cinemas as “merely tokenist” and said this ”undermined the mechanisms that are supposed to protect the diversity of German cinema and the cinema as a cultural venue”.
They also suggested the release of the Netflix production “did not comply with the legally regulated theatrical window”.
However, the German Film Academy confirmed to Screen the film had met all the eligibility criteria for the German Film Awards which are voted on by 2,200 Academy members.
“The guidelines for the German Film Award stipulate that feature films may not be broadcast on free TV before the German Film Award ceremony and must demonstrate that they have a theatrical release with at least five prints on seven consecutive days,” the spokesperson told Screen. ”These requirements were met: the film had an exclusive theatrical release four weeks prior to its release on the streaming platform and has thus far exceeded the permissible minimum theatrical run.”
The Academy confirmed the nomination premium of €250,000 for All Quiet On The Western Front will be going to the film’s German producer Amusement Park Entertainment. The company could also receive additional prize money on Friday night if it picks up the Lola in gold, silver or bronze for best feature film.
Additionally, AG Kino’s board members said it was “completely incomprehensible” that Christian Petzold’s Berlinale winner Afire (Roter Himmel) had not been included in the initial shortlist before the final line-up of Lola nominations
”Once again, it becomes clear the Film Academy lacks the necessary sensitivity for artistic quality in the selection and nomination process,” the exhibitor suggested. “Once again, this year’s German Film Awards are a missed opportunity. Christian Petzold did deserve this, the German feature film did not deserve this, the cinemas did not deserve this. The need for reform is overdue!”
However, the Film Academy confirmed the film had been submitted by Petzold’s production company Schramm Film Körner Weber Kaiser, but explained “submitted films that are not shortlisted have the opportunity to apply for the ’wild card/ procedure. This means that the film is available to all members for viewing and can also be selected in all categories.”
“The production of Afire decided not to apply for the wild card procedure. Therefore, the film was not available for the nominations,” the Academy stated.
The 72nd German Film Awards - also popularly known as the Lolas after Marlene Dietrich’s character in The Blue Angel - will be handed out on May 12 in 17 categories with more than a total €3m in prize-money presented to the winners.
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