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The Film Festival Münster awards Live and Become

The First European Feature Film Award for Best Director went to Radu Mihaileanu

At the 11th Film Festival Münster which drew to a close yesterday, the Romanian director Radu Mihaileanu won the first European Feature Film Prize for Best Director for his film ‘Va, vis et deviens / Live and Become’. The award is endowed with a prize money of EUR 10,000. According to the verdict of the five-member European jury the prize went to Mihaileanu’s film because of the ‘outstanding way in which the story of a boy in search for his identity is set against the background of the story of an entire people in search for a home. Mihaileanu tells this Œbig’ story with an impressive cast and a keen eye for detail. The prize is also awarded in recognition of the director’s decision to turn the public’s attention to such an important topic.’

‘Live and Become’ was the winner of a total of eight European feature films which had been selected for the new competition under the heading of ‘Growing Up’. The film takes us back to Ethiopia in the 80s when the country was plagued by a terrible famine. Africans of Jewish origin were most likely to escape death by starvation because ‘Operation Moses’ helped them to flee to Israel. Radu Mihaileanu gives an account of this historic event which decided the fate of so many people, focussing on a nine-year-old Christian boy who pretends to be Jew in order to survive. The directors manages to translate this story about the vicissitudes of life into touching, yet unsentimental images. Born in Bucharest in 1958, Mihaileanu left the country during Ceausescu’s regime in 1980 and fled to France where he has been living ever since. In 1993 he presented his first feature film, ‘Trahir’, ‘Train de vie’ of 1998 was an international box office success. ‘Va, vis et deviens / Live and Become’ will be showing in German cinemas from April 2006 onwards.

The jury which comprised Karin Wolfs (film journalist, The Netherlands), Till Endeman (director, Germany, ‘Das Lächeln der Tiefseefische’), Alessandro Piva (director, Italy, ‘La capa gira’), Inger Nilsson (actress, Sweden, ‘Pipi Longstocking’) and Marlies Baak-Witjes (official responsible for media education, Germany) made a special mention of the Dutch director Mijke de Jong and her film ‘Bluebird’. a sympathetic portrait of a twelve-year-old girl trying to walk the fine line between blind juvenile rebellion and responsible action.

In the context of the competition for short films which has been held in Münster since 1981, a total of 68 films was shown this year. The ‘Großer Preis der Filmwerkstatt’ (main award of the Filmwerkstatt) endowed with EUR 5,000 was awarded to director Jan Thüring (Aix la Chapelle) for his puppet animation film that explores the ‘shark-eats-shark’ side of human nature. The ‘Förderpreis des WDR Studio Münster’ (prize for young directors awarded by the North-Rhine Westphalian radio and television network) amounting to EUR 2,500 was divided this year. It went in equal parts to Thomas Wendrich’s tale ‘Zur Zeit verstorben’, a film about the timelessness of dreams, starring a magnificent Michael Gwisdek, and to ‘La vida dulce’, a humorous short documentary directed by Bettina Blümner and Rouven Rech about cakes which are always in short supply on mother’s day in Cuba. Stephan Flint Müller won the ‘Publikumspreis’ (audience award) endowed with EUR 1,000 for his film ‘Fliegenpflicht für Quadratköpfe’, a playful journey of Berlin’s urban landscape as the result of which all traffic signs and advertising boards seem miraculously changed.

Number of Visitors Increased by 20 %

The award ceremony on Sunday evening was the highlight of the 11th Film Festival, the new focus of which was unanimously and enthusiastically welcomed by filmmakers, juries, film experts and spectators. The city of Münster is proud to announce that 6,000 visitors attemded this year’s festival, an increase by 20 % compared to 2003.

For some years now, a selection of outstanding and more recent European feature films has been a permanent fixture of the Münster festival programme, alongside the classic short film competition. This year’s project of tying up such films in a feature film competition with a thematic focus has been successful. The selection of films screened once again confirmed that dealing with socially relevant topics may well result in exciting and highly enjoyable films. Film in all its dimensions was celebrated in Münster for five days. More than 80 filmmakers, actors and journalists from Germany and other European countries attended the festival venue, the cinema ‘Stadt New York’. Their works and the often heated debates they provoked once again underscored the importance of film in social and cultural life.

The symposium ‘Growing Up ­ Working with Children and Young Actors in Feature Films’ was an interesting platform for experts from the film industry. Questions concerning directing as well as the moral constraints of what can be done on the set were discussed, and the need for reform of the laws governing the protection of children in the workplace was stressed.

In the section ‘Heaven and Hell: Five Love Stories’ shown in co-operation with the Münster bishopric, new perspectives were opened up even on fairly well-known films. Highly renowned presenters offered analyses that helped to see the images on screen in a new light. The feature films shown in the section ‘filmspiegel’ also met with great interest, especially the retrospective of the works by Theo van Gogh, who was assassinated last year. The retrospective not only paid tribute to the controversial political commentator, but also stressed his influence as a filmmaker.

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