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Culture

German-Turkish Director Fatih Akin Sweeps German Oscars

Fatih Akin, the German cinema director who makes gritty dramas about his own Turkish minority community, won the German Film Prize on Friday for his riveting drama "Edge of Heaven."

A scene from The Edge of Heaven

Akin's "Edge of Heaven" was a clear winner of the 58th German Film Awards

A winner at the Cannes Film Festival last year, the movie -- called "Auf der andern Seite" in German -- went on to win four more awards at the German Film Academy's ceremony in Berlin on Friday, April 25: gold for best film, best director, best script -- all for Akin -- and a best editing prize for Andrew Bird.

Akin accepting the prize

Akin has been critical of the German Film Academy in the past

"Danke, danke, danke," said a grateful Akin, a Hamburg-based director of Turkish descent whose hard-hitting films about the struggles and confusion of Turkish immigrants in Germany have won also honors at the Berlin and Cannes film festivals.

"It's extraordinarily difficult to measure art in any way," said Akin, 34, whose 2003 film "Gegen die Wand" (Head-On) also drew international accolades.

"So I'm delighted," he said at a gala with more than 1,500 spectators broadcast live on television. "We don't make films for prizes but rather for life."

The young director has often criticized the German Film Academy in the past for the way it selects its Lola nominees.

Silver Lola for Doris Doerrie

movie poster for Cherry Blossoms

"Cherry Blossoms" was considered a favorite for the Golden Lola

"Kirschblueten" (Cherry Blossoms) -- a moving love story about a cranky Bavarian civil servant who travels to Japan after to fulfill the dream of his dead wife-- by director Doris Doerrie, had led the field with six nominations, but won just two for best actor (Elmar Wepper) and best costume design.

"Kirschblueten" also won the silver Lola for best picture.

Surprise box-office hit "Die Welle" (The Wave) by Dennis Gansel, a drama set in modern Germany, in which one charismatic teacher's experiment turns a high school into a paradigm of a dictatorship, took the bronze Lola in the best picture category.

Bettina Bluemner's "Princesses' Swimming Pool" -- a portrait of three teenage girls living in Berlin's multicultural Kreuzberg district -- won the prize for best documentary. Armin Voelckers' movie "Leroy" -- a movie about an Afro-German teen who falls in love with girl from a right-wing extremist family -- picked up the children and youth film Lola.

German Oscars

A scence from the movie The Wave

"The Wave" won the bronze Lola for best film

More than 1,000 industry professionals -- members of the German Film Academy -- cast the ballots for the 3-million-euro ($5 million) German Film Prize.

The government underwrites the prizes to be distributed among the nominated films, as a kind of subsidy for future projects.

In 2006, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "The Lives of Others" -- a film about an East German secret police officer who gradually becomes disillusioned with the totalitarian system he has worked to uphold -- won seven Lolas before later winning an Oscar for best foreign film.

The Lolas, which are seen as Germany's answer to Hollywood's Oscars, have been presented since 1951.

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