Slamdance winner won the Max Ophüls Prize at the weekend, granting it a slot in the Berlinale.

Jakob Lass’ feature debut  Love Steaks, this year’s winner of the Slamdance Trailer Competition Grand Prix, was awarded the prestigious Max Ophüls Prize in Saarbrücken at the weekend.

The film, which is in the Lola nomination long list, will therefore also have a screening slot in the Berlinale’s Perspektive Deutsches Kino on Feb 16.

Billed by the filmmakers as “the world’s first FOGMA film” (with the obligatory manifesto), Love Steaks had its world premiere at Munich Filmfest last June where it won all four prizes of the Young German Cinema Support Awards.

This included for Best Screenplay, despite the film not having had any written dialogue and featuring the staff and guests at a wellness hotel on the Baltic Sea coast playing themselves alongside newcomers Lana Cooper and Franz Rogowski..

Lass’ graduation film from the University of Film & Television ¨Konrad Wolf¨ (HFF) in Babelsberg had its world premiere in Karlovy Vary and was shown at the Slamdance Festival last week where Lass was one of ten finalists  participating in the Trailer Competition and was selected for the Grand Prix by YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley.

“Gift to the audience

The Max Ophüls Feature Film jury - including actors Ronald Zehrfeld and Götz Otto, and producer Maria Köpf - described the film as “a gift to the audience which is simply brimming over with energy, enthusiasm, colours and love, and shows once again what cinema is able to achieve.”

In addition to making their film without recourse to any film funding, Lass and his team are now taking theatrical distribution in Germany into their own hands.

Their distribution arm daredo media’s Darling Berlin label is cooperating on the March 27 release with Ferleih, and booking and billing is being handled by Berlin exhibitor Burkhard Voiges’  BeMovie.

On accepting the prize from Saarbrücken’s Mayoress Charlotte Britz, producer Ines Schiller said that the €36,000 would be useful for the film’s distribution campaign.

Movies & Breasts

Another rough and ready production from HFF Babelsberg  - Isabell Suba’s mockumentary Men Show Movies & Women Their Breasts (Männer zeigen Filme & Frauen ihre Brüste) - picked up two awards: the newly created Prize for the Socially Relevant Film as well as the Youth Jury’s Award.

Suba’s guerilla production used the invitation of her short film to the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 to deal several sideswipes at the male-dominated film industry during five days spent by a woman film-maker and her macho producer looking to finance a new project in Cannes.

The Saarland Prime Minister’s Film Prize went to Nico Sommer’s Berlin comedy Familienfieber , while  the Audience Award for Best Feature Film to Johanna Moder’s High Performance and Andreas Horvath’s Yukon-set Earth’s Golden Playground  took home the Documentary Film Prize.

A Special Mention was also given by the documentary jury to Swiss director Anna Thommen’s Unknown Territory (Neuland) which will also be shown in the Berlinale’s Perspektive Deutsches Kino sidebar as the winner of the First Steps Award last September. Rise & Shine is handling world sales.

Meanwhile, this year’s Acting Prizes were presented to Liv Lisa Fries for her portrayal of a young woman with terminal cystic fibrosis in Frederik Steiner’s Und morgen Mittag bin ich tot (which Universum Film will release on 13 February) and Vincent Krüger playing a young father out of his depth in Barbara Ott’s short film Sunny.

Grande Région funders puts co-development joint venture onto the agenda

This year saw the local film funder Saarland Film organise its first ever discussion event with representatives of film funding bodies in the Grande Région SaarLorLux to explore opportunities for cross-border collaboration in film financing.

An initial agreement was reached between Saarland Film’s CEO Gerd Bauer, Film Fund Luxembourg’s director Guy Daleiden, Regional Arts Officer Bertrand Masson of the Région Lorrane, and André Sommerlatte from the Ministry of the German-Speaking Community in Belgium to consider the setting up a co-development fund for the region’s film-makers.

A working group will be established in the coming weeks in order to have a concrete proposal later in the year.

The four partners have already collaborated in the past, together with parts of the Rhineland-Palatinate, to produce online location and production guides,

Although Belgium’s German-speaking community only has a population of 75,000, its ¨capital¨ Eupen (with 17,000) is home to producer Franz Esterhazy’s ED Productions which was a partner on Marc Rothemund’s The Girl With Nine Wigs and Wolfgang Becker’s Me & Kaminski, his first feature since Good Bye, Lenin!

In addition, animators from Luxembourg and Lorraine are nominated at this year’s Oscars with Mr Hublot for Best Animated Short, while Luxembourg’s Mélusibe Productions was a partner on the international co-production Ernest and Celestine nominated for Best Animated Feature.