The Filmfest Hamburg closes every year with a gala of prizes. The Douglas Sirk prize went to the admirable French director Francois Ozon (Swimming Pool, Under the Sand and the less interesting 8 Women, among others). Ozon’s newest film Cinq fois Deux, or Five Times Two, was a big hit with the audience. Over the last ten years past winners, honored for their contribution to films or the industry, have included Clint Eastwood, Stephen Frears, Jodie Foster and last year, Isabelle Hubert.
For the first time representatives of the Hamburger Abendblatt, NDR 90,3, Stern, and Spiegel awarded a critics’ prize. They chose Brothers (my choice, too) from a group of twelve films nominated by the festival for portrayals of contemporary life in original ways. The director, Suzanne Bier (Open Hearts), was on hand. The jury also requested special recognition for the incredible performance given by Ronit Elkabetz in the Israeli film To Take a Wife by Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz, the harrowing story of two people trapped in a marriage gone wrong.
The public chose Nail Biting Dog for the Audience Award from the film category Eurovisuell.
The Children’s Jury awarded the Michel Prize to Station 4 by Antonio Mercero, a moving film about a children’s cancer ward, and the Children’s Audience Award, sponsored by Sparda Immobilien, went to In Orange.
Other prizes included the Otto-Sprenger-Prize (EUR 10,000) to the Hamburger director Ayse Polat for En Garde; the TV Productions Prize of The Office of Economy and Labor (EUR 30,000) to Network Movie for Mord am Meer by Matti Geschonneck; and the Otto-Sprenger-Foundation prize (EUR 10,000) to the Hamburg film production company Wueste Film.