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AWARDS Germany

Graduation films take first steps

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Each year at the end of August, the best graduation films from German, Austrian and Swiss film schools are presented at the Berlinale Palace in Berlin and this year was no different.

On August 28, five talented newcomers were rewarded with prize money totalling €82,000 from the event's initiators, a joint venture between German film, television broadcasters and industry representatives. Prizes are awarded in the categories of short films, feature films up to 60 minutes, full length feature films, and best acting. Three juries nominate up to five films in each category.

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The member of the jury for feature films was Austrian director Hans Weingartner, who six years ago won a First Steps award for his film The Edukators, which screened at Cannes three years later. The jury had difficulty in deciding on the best feature film, so they chose two winners: Der Blinde Fleck by Tom Zenker, a graduate of the Berlin Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie, and tragic comedy Hotel Very Welcome by Sonja Heiss from the Munich Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film.

The First Step award for feature films up to 60 minutes went to Die unsichtbare Hand (“The Invisible Hand”) by Dirk Lütter from the Kunsthochschule für Medien in Cologne, while Weg Gottes (“God’s Way”) by Eva Neymann from the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin received the award for documentaries. Luise Berndt and Mehdi Nebbou from the HFF Babelsberg were named best actors.

All nominated filmmakers and actors are invited to the awards ceremony. The evening's aim is to foster networking between established and new filmmakers. By providing emerging filmmakers with a special forum, the privately funded initiative highlights the creative potential of young filmmakers and provides substantial support for the first steps of their career.

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