War drama set in China wins German Film Prize

War drama set in China wins German Film Prize
Photo: DPA
A film about a German salesman who rescued thousands of Chinese from the Japanese army in 1937 won the Lola prize for best feature film of 2008, along with three other awards at the German Film Awards in Berlin Friday night.

The film, “John Rabe,” was directed by Florian Gallenberger, a 37-year-old director in only his second directing appearance. The Lola for best film comes with a prize of €500,000. “John Rabe” beat out other critically-acclaimed German films, including “The Baader-Meinhof Complex,” about the Red Army Faction’s attacks in the 1970s, “Jericho,” “Chiko, “In Winter One Year,” and “Cloud 9.”

Leading actor Ulrich Tukur won the Lola for best actor for his portrayal of John Rabe, whose real-life efforts saved thousands during the Rape of Nanking in 1937. The film also won awards for set and costume design.

Director Gallenberger’s Lola for “John Rabe” is not his first big award. Gallenberger’s debut film “Quiero Ser,” which he completed while in film school, won an Oscar for best short film in 2001.

Other winners included director Andreas Dresen, whose work on the film “Cloud 9” won him best director. The 45-year-old Dresen had already been nominated four times in the past for the award, but hadn’t won until Friday’s ceremony. The film was entirely improvised without a screenplay and in contrast to many contemporary films, concerned itself with old age, rather than youth. Leading actress Ursula Werner won the Lola for best actress for her portrayal of a 70-year-old woman who falls in love with an 80-year-old man and begins a steamy affair with him.

The social drama “Chiko” won awards for best screenplay and editing, “North Face” won awards for camera and sound work and “In the Winter One Year” won the award for film music.

More than 1.8 million viewers watched the awards on television, more than a 10 percent market share of German TV viewers on Friday, according to public television network ZDF, which carried the broadcast live.

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