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POTSDAM, Germany (Reuters Life!) - Kate Winslet returned to the German film studio where she made the Oscar-winning film "The Reader" on Thursday evening to accept the 2009 Bambi Award for best international actress.
The British actress, who won the Academy Award for best actress, told the gala ceremony of 800 that she enjoyed the work at the Babelsberg studios outside Berlin so much two years ago that she was always glad to return.
"Ever since we made 'The Reader' I'm always trying to find ways to come back to Germany -- it was special," said Winslet, whom the jury honored as "an actress who doesn't just slip into her roles but rather puts herself into the soul of her roles."
Winslet struggled to hold up the 3.6-kg Bambi made of bronze and 18-carat gold at the ceremony broadcast live on German TV.
"This is very heavy so I'm going to put this down," said Winslet, who played a German woman with a secret Nazi past in the romantic drama "The Reader."
She added she treasured the experience working with the German cast and crew.
"They had a really wonderful sense of humor even in the face of some brutal filming hours," she said.
Her comment prompted German comedian Michael Mittermeier to quip later: "Kate Winslet, you're the first person from England to ever say we Germans have humor. Thank you, thank you!"
Christoph Waltz, an Austrian who co-starred in "Inglourious Basterds," was honored as best international actor.
"I wanted to say something intelligent but my wife said 'is that really necessary?'," Waltz said. "I told her I've give some kind of thank you speech and she said: 'Keep it short and they'll all thank you later'."
The Bambi, Germany's answer to the Emmy and presented by German publishing giant the Hubert Burda Media Group, honors achievement in film, television and music as well as sports, fashion and social engagement. Germany is one of the world's most important television markets.
Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Charles Dick