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David Cronenberg for Douglas Sirk Prize
by Becky Tan

The festival’s highest honor, the Douglas Sirk prize, went to Canadian director David Cronenberg for his 30-year contribution to film. The cultural editor of Spiegel magazine said, “There is no more deserving prize winner. Cronenberg is a visionary, the doctor of cinema, a director who, with surgical precision inflicts serious pain but he is a surgeon in a deeper sense. He goes to the limit and beyond.”

Cronenberg said that he has never filmed in Hamburg, nor in Hollywood either for that matter, but he did visit Hamburg in 1966 and, “it hasn’t changed a bit.” He is proud to be associated with Douglas Sirk, but doubts that Sirk would have approved of his films, since Sirk had a lighter touch and wasn’t so obsessed with machines and fast cars. Some Cronenberg films are A History of Violence, The Fly, eXistenZ, Crash, Naked Lunch, and Friday the 13th.

The award ceremony was in Cinemaxx prior to the showing of his newest film, Eastern Promises (see festival film reviews). Hamburg can be grateful to Cronenberg for attending the ceremony, considering that last year’s winner Gerard Depardieu was a no-show. Perhaps that says something about Canadians.

The namesake of the prize, Douglas Sirk was born Hans Detlef Sierck 1897 in Hamburg of Danish parents. His career started in Hamburg theatres but he fled to Hollywood in 1937. He worked with stars such as Barbara Stanwyck, Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson and Sandra Dee. His original reputation as a B-movie man has steadily changed and these days he is considered to one director most influential on young colleagues.

Other prizes went to
Control (Hamburg film critics’ prize)
 Underdogs (Montblanc script prize))
Kuckuckszeit (TV producers’ prize)
Empties (audience favorite)
Unser Kind (Vierte Micro-movie Award)