'The People vs. Fritz Bauer' Tops German Film Awards

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‘The People vs. Fritz Bauer’

The biopic about the German-Jewish attorney general and relentless Nazi hunter won best film and director honors Friday night during the German cinema awards ceremony in Berlin.

In one of the oddest showdowns in international cinema, Tom Hanks, Heidi and Adolf Hitler squared off Friday night in Berlin for the 2016 German Film Awards, known as the Lolas, Germany’s equivalent of the Oscars.

This year’s nominees ranged from the big-budget spectacle of Tom Tykwer’s A Hologram for the King, starring Hanks, to a remake of the Swiss children’s classic Heidi to Look Who’s Back, a Borat-style comedy premised on the concept that Hitler returns, alive, to modern-day Berlin.

But it was The People vs. Fritz Bauer that ended up winning big. The biopic about the German-Jewish attorney general who worked against his own country and with Israel to bring former Nazis still living in newly democratic Germany to justice after World War II won the top prize, the golden Lola for best film.

Lars Kraume earned best director honors for People vs. Fritz Bauer and shared the best screenplay prize with co-writer Olivier Guez. It was the first of many Lolas for the film, as Ronald Zehrfeld received the best supporting actor nod, Esther Walz took home the best costume prize and Cora Pratz nabbed the Lola for best set design.

Laura Tonke secured her place as a rising star in German film with an unprecedented double Lola win, receiving the best actress and supporting actress nods for the comedies Hedi Schneider Is Stuck and Mangelexemplar, respectively. Tonke dedicated her best actress prize to struggling actors everywhere, all those “who fight against the mainstream and don’t let themselves get beat down.” Joking that she was completely wrong for the role in Mangelexemplar, Tonke dedicated her supporting actress Lola “to all those wrongly cast.”

Producer Regina Ziegler, arguably the most successful woman in German cinema, received a standing ovation as she took the stage to receive her golden Lola, a honorary prize for her life’s work. With 91 films in her 43 years in the business, Zeigler is without a doubt the most productive producer in the country.

Markus Nestroy was the surprise winner of the best cinematography prize for his lensing of Nicolas Steiner’s Above and Below, a documentary which explores, with stunning visuals, some of the most inhospitable locations in the world. The film also received the best documentary nod.

Frank Kruse, Matthias Lempert and Roland Winke took the Lola for best sound design for their work on A Hologram for the King, Tykwer’s adaptation of the Dave Eggers best-seller. Hologram‘s editor Alexander Berner also took the top prize for his cut of the movie.

The film’s producer, Stefan Ardnt, received this year’s Bernd Eichinger Award honoring a producer that has made a significant contribution to German cinema.

Heidi took the golden Lola for best children’s film. The reboot of the oft-filmed classic was a box-office hit in German cinemas this year.

Peter Kurth scored best actor honors for his star-making performance in Thomas Stuber’s A Heavy Heart, in which he plays a former fighter struck down by a degenerative muscle disease. Heavy Heart also picked up the Lola for best makeup for Hanna Hackbeil.

The winners and nominees of the German Film Awards split a total of more than $3 million in prize money, cash they can use toward their next projects.

Actress Iris Berben, president of the German Film Academy, used the event to strike a political note. Opening the ceremony, she reminded the audience of the surge in right-wing and neo-Nazi violence in Germany over the past year.

“As artists, we can’t be silent. We have to act,” said Berben to thunderous applause.

She called 2016 the “year of the woman” in German cinema, citing three recent festival hits directed by women: Nicolette Krebitz’s Sundance success Wild; Anne Zohra Berrached’s 24 Weeks, which was embraced by German critics after its debut in Berlin in February; and Toni Erdmann, Maren Ade’s Cannes competition title that, while it went home empty-handed at the awards, was the best-reviewed title on the Croisette.

Sadly all three, because of their late German release dates, didn’t qualify for this year’s Lolas. Expect them to dominate the 2017 awards. 

Last year, Victoria, a German thriller shot in a single, unedited take, won big at the Lolas. The pic took home six trophies, including for best film, directing (Sebastian Schipper) and acting (Laia Costa and Frederick Lau).

A full list of the winners of 2016 German Film Awards is below.

Best Film, Lola in Gold
The People vs. Fritz Bauer
Producer: Thomas Kufus

Best Film, Lola in Silver
A Heavy Heart
Producers: Undine Filter, Thomas Kral, Anatol Nitschke

Best Film, Lola in Bronze
4 Kings
Producers: Benjamin Seikel, Florian Schmidt-Prange

Best Director
Lars Kraume, The People vs. Fritz Bauer

Best Actress
Laura Tonke, Mangelexemplar

Best Supporting Actress
Laura Tonke, Heidi Schneider Is Stuck

Best Actor
Peter Kurth, A Heavy Heart

Best Supporting Actor
Ronald Zehrfeld, The People vs. Fritz Bauer

Best Documentary Film
Above and Below
Producers: Helge Albers, Cornelia Seitler, Brigitte Hofer

Best Children’s Film
Producers: Uli Putz, Jakob Claussen, Reto Schaerli, Lukas Hobi

Best Screenplay
Lars Kraume, Olivier Guez, The People vs. Fritz Bauer

Best Cinematography
Markus Nestroy, Above and Below

Best Editing
Alexander Berner, A Hologram for the King

Best Set Design
Cora Pratz, The People vs. Fritz Bauer

Best Costume Design
Esther Walz for The People vs. Fritz Bauer

Best Makeup
Hanna Hackbeil, A Heavy Heart

Best Sound Design
Frank Kruse, Matthias Lempert, Roland Winke, A Hologram for the King

Bernd Eichinger Prize
Stefan Arndt

Lifetime Achievement Honor
Regina Ziegler

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