If the moderator apologizes right at the beginning of the show for the embarrassing vocal performances and at the end a single film scoops most of the awards – then there is a high probability that you will be back at the German Film Awards ceremony. One should not blame the brave Katrin Bauerfeind, she did better than many of her predecessors at the annual gala of the German industry on Friday evening. The only embarrassment of her almost three-hour moderation, the praise of German film, she sang away right at the beginning – and added a nice bon mot to her opening monologue: “German film, some say that sounds like English delicatessen or Polish design.”
This Lola-typical irony has long served as a protective mechanism for the German Film Academy: against the criticism of the critics about the quality of German films and the withdrawal of love from the cinema audience. This year, this unshakable irony is characterized, among other things, by the fact that the international co-production “Spencer” by Chilean director Pablo Larraín (with Hollywood star Kristen Stewart as Lady Diana) is nominated for best film, but in the end Andreas Kleinerts Ost -West biography “Dear Thomas” wins. And someone else claims that German cinema has no humor.
The nine Lolas for “Dear Thomas” are continuing a now tiresome habit: the 2100 members of the film academy seem to have been secretly agreeing on one film for a while, which then dominates the awards ceremony. So this year Andreas Kleinert’s biopic about the dissident in two German systems Thomas Brasch, played by Albrecht Schuch, based on a screenplay by Thomas Wendrich – all three of which are awarded. So it’s hardly surprising that Jella Haase, in the role of Brasch’s girlfriend, also received a Lola for best supporting role. The love of the film academy, once kindled, is unconditional.
In the case of Schuch, the words of thanks for his third Lola meanwhile sound warm and mellow, while one can see the honest surprise in Haase – even if she has already taken a quote from Thomas Brasch to be on the safe side. The Lola is above all the reward for a tasteful choice of role in the serious subject, with which she alludes to the “Fack ju Göthe” fame in recent years. Although her characters in “Berlin Alexanderplatz” and “Dear Thomas” are not particularly nuanced, one has to admire Haase for how fearlessly she throws herself into her roles.
With its nine (out of a possible twelve) Lolas, “Dear Thomas” also clearly wins the neck-and-neck race with “Rabiye Kurnaz versus George W. Bush”, who has been nominated ten times. Meltem Kaptan, who has already won the Silver Bear as “Murat’s Mama”, and Andreas Scheer as human rights lawyer Bernhard Docke receive the only two awards for Dresen’s political satire. The fact that two films make up the most important prizes among themselves is characteristic of this cinema year.
The German-Austrian co-production “Great Freedom”, which ran in Cannes in 2021, was awarded the Lola in bronze, the provincial drama “No one is with the calves”, for which the leading actress Saskia Rosendahl was awarded in Locarno, has to deal with be content with the prize for the best sound design. This monoculture could just be a problem of the election modalities, which the film academy would have to solve as soon as possible – if the German film prize is not to become as predictable as the Bundesliga in the long run. But it could also simply be a quality problem, not just caused by the pandemic.
Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth, who for the first time released three million euros from her coffers for the Republic’s most valuable cultural award, does not relate the question of whether the cinema can be celebrated on this evening to German film – but of course to the war in Ukraine. Her clear answer is: yes. She gets support from Wladimir Klitschko, who is connected via video and rants about the “soldiers of truth”. Contrary to expectations, Klitschko the Younger is not a deepfake, the war pathos is very real.
The Ukrainian director Marina Stepanska, who stayed in her homeland to provide the world with pictures from the war front, sounds less state-oriented. Later that evening, this in turn led Claudia Roth to the idea that German cinema should also have more courage and show a clearer edge.
Of course, it is not easy at this time to find the right words for a world situation that can basically only leave you speechless. But maybe cultural events like the German Film Prize are simply not the right setting for this – if the industry, in its own despondency, just wants to bring a bit of worldliness to the television studio via video transmission.
Even if, as in the case of Dresen and Kleinert, it presents itself as political, German film rarely goes beyond general platitudes; he always gets stuck on the personal-biographical level. The cleverest sentence of the evening does not come from a screenplay, but from the pen of a French woman. In her acceptance speech, make-up artist Kerstin Gaecklein, who wins a Lola for “Große Freiheit” (one of those films that doesn’t force its politics on the public), quotes Simone de Beauvoir: “I wish every human life were pure, clear freedom .”