April 26, 2008 / 12:35 AM / 10 years ago

Akin film big winner at German awards

BERLIN (Reuters) - A film by German-Turkish director Fatih Akin won top honors at the $5 million German Film Prize on Friday, taking best picture and three categories of the world’s most lucrative film awards.

Turkish director Fatih Akin holds the trophy during the German Film Prize 'Lola' award ceremony in Berlin April 25, 2008. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Akin’s ensemble drama “Auf der anderen Seite” (The Edge of Heaven) — a story of loss, mourning and forgiveness set in both Germany and Turkey — also won three further “Lolas” for best director, best original screenplay and best editing.

“Danke, danke, danke,” said a grateful Akin, a Hamburg-based director of Turkish descent whose hard-hitting films about the struggles and confusion of Turkish immigrants in Germany have won also honors at the Berlin and Cannes film festivals.

“It’s extraordinarily difficult to measure art in any way,” said Akin, 34, whose 2003 film “Gegen die Wand” (Head-On) also drew international accolades.

“So I’m delighted. We don’t make films for prizes but rather for life,” he said at a gala with more than 1,500 spectators and a national television audience.

Akin’s newest film tracks the fragile lives of six people — four Turks and two Germans — who connect on emotional voyages toward reconciliation in Germany and Turkey. Their lives criss-cross through love and tragedy in both countries.

“Kirschblueten” (Cherry Blossoms), a moving love story about a cranky Bavarian civil servant by director Doris Doerrie, had led the field with six nominations but won just two for best actor (Elmar Wepper) and best costume design.

“Kirschblueten” also won the silver Lola for best picture.

Surprise box-office hit “Die Welle” (The Wave) by Dennis Gansel, a drama set in modern Germany about a high school seduced into an authoritarian regime by one charismatic teacher, took the bronze Lola in the best picture category.

More than 1,000 industry professionals who make up the German Film Academy cast the ballots. The Lolas are not meant to award box office success but cultural achievement.

The government underwrites the 3 million euros in prizes, which are distributed among the dozens of nominated films as an indirect subsidy for future projects.

Presented every year since 1951, the “Lolas” are Germany’s answer to Hollywood’s Oscars and Britain’s BAFTA awards.

In 2006 “Das Leben der Anderen” (“The Lives of Others”) got seven “Lolas” before later winning the best foreign film Oscar.

The most talked about film this year was not in the running. Til Schweiger’s hit “Keinohrhasen” (Rabbit Without Ears) earned more than 40 million euros ($60 million). The Academy said Schweiger failed to submit the film in time for consideration.

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