Moneyboys and Soul of a Beast win big at the 2022 Max Ophüls Prize
by Teresa Vena
- CB Yi’s film has won the Award for Best Feature Film, among other prizes, while Lorenz Merz’s outing won the Award for Best Director at this year's edition of the festival
After a purely online edition in 2021, the Max Ophüls Prize returned this year (from 16-26 January) with a hybrid version of the festival. Besides organising a physical gathering in Saarbrücken, it was also possible to view the selection of fiction features, documentaries and short films made by the young generation of filmmakers from the German-speaking countries online. After the festival officially ended, the programme was still available online for a few more days, until 30 January.
As every year, the programme was organised into different categories in which the films competed for several prizes. To determine the winners, juries composed of professionals from the film industry were summoned. The main prizes were awarded by a jury of four members – namely, editor Beatrice Babin, director York-Fabian Raabe (whose feature Borga [+see also:
interview: York-Fabian Raabe
film profile] won last year's edition of the festival), producer Frieder Schlaich and actress Idil Üner. The winner of Best Feature Film at this, the 43rd edition, was deemed to be Moneyboys [+see also:
interview: CB Yi
film profile] by Austrian-Taiwanese director CB Yi. The award is worth €36,000.
The jury called the work “an existential, queer and at the same time universal film about love that does not pursue political meaning, but creates it. It shows an incredibly sleek cinematic craft on all levels, which is surprisingly mature for a debut film – from the precise camera work, which uses its CinemaScope so intelligently, to the precise depiction of the characters, which portrays complex, multi-layered worlds even in the case of the minor characters, to the deliberately placed but at the same time not overbearing set design and the costumes, which become one with their characters, to the incredibly tight acting.”
The feature, set in Taiwan and depicting the lives of young men who are searching for love and do their best to survive in the urban jungle, but who have to deal with prejudice and backlash from their family and society, also won the Fritz-Raff Award for Best Screenplay as well as the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. The former was awarded by a jury of three people (screenwriter Judith Angerbauer, producer Daniel Blum and radio journalist Oliver Hottong) and is worth €13,000, whereas the latter was handed out by another jury of four (Tom Damm, Sabrina Maas, Alexandra Palkowitsch and Wolf-Dieter Scheid) and is worth €2,500.
The second big winner of the festival was Soul of a Beast [+see also:
interview: Lorenz Merz
film profile] by Swiss director Lorenz Merz. The same jury that presented the Award for Best Feature Film gave the Award for Best Director, worth €5,500, to this emotional and dynamic portrait of a young father and his love for his son. The film is nominated in several categories for the annual Swiss Film Prize and premiered at Locarno in 2021. The jury’s verdict went: “A wild, insane ride, a love letter to Asian cinema, a deeply touching father-son story. Soul of a Beast is a firework of images, music, sounds, sensuality and magic […] You can feel and share the director's great love for his characters. A tremendous achievement, a true cinematic experience!”
The film also won the Award for Best Actor, which went to Swiss thesp Pablo Caprez, whose role in Soul of a Beast is his first leading part. Finally, the third prize won by the movie was the Critics’ Award, which was given out for the first time this year in collaboration with the film critics' associations of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
In parallel with the Award for Best Actor, the festival also gave out an Award for Best Actress, which went to Austria’s Julia Windischbauer, who stars in Elena Wolff’s pseudo-documentary Para:dies, about the love story between two women, for which she also handled production duties.
Among the other major prizes given out was the Award for Best Social Interest Film, which went to Ladybitch by Paula Knüpling and Marina Prados, who created a docu-fiction depicting the dynamics of the independent theatre scene in Berlin. The Audience Award in the feature-film category went to the visionary and experimental Everything Will Change [+see also:
interview: Marten Persiel
film profile] by Marten Persiel, focusing on climate change. The audience gave its other prize to a documentary in the competition, Anima – My Father's Dresses by Uli Decker. Moreover, that same film also won the Award for Best Documentary of the festival.
Here is the complete list of award winners at the Max Ophüls Prize Festival:
Best Social Interest Film
Ladybitch – Paula Knüpling and Marina Prados (Germany)
Anima – My Father's Dresses – Uli Decker (Germany)
Fritz-Raff Award for Best Screenplay
Moneyboys – CB Yi
Pablo Caprez – Soul of a Beast
Julia Windischbauer – Para:dies (Austria)
Audience Award for Best Documentary
Anima – My Father's Dresses – Uli Decker
Audience Award for Best Short Film
Zeitpunkt X - Simon Schneider (Germany)
Audience Award for Best Medium-length Film
Unter der Welle - Veronika Hafner (Germany)
Best Medium-length Film
Unter der Welle - Veronika Hafner
Best Short Film
Lullaby - Magdalena Chmielewska (Austria)
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury
Moneyboys – CB Yi (Austria)
Young Jury Award
Risse im Fundament - Genia Leis and Gerald Sommerauer (Austria)
Soul of a Beast – Lorenz Merz
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