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Film still Undine
Christian Petzold's 'Undine' is nominated as best film, and Paula Beer as best actress Image: Christian Schulz/Schramm Film

Two German works up for a European Film Award

Elizabeth Grenier
November 10, 2020

Christian Petzold's "Undine" and the film adaptation of "Berlin Alexanderplatz" by Burhan Qurbani are among the six titles nominated for best feature film.


The European Film Academy (EFA) has revealed its nominations for the European Film Awards 2020 on Tuesday, and two German feature films are among the nominees in the top category. 

With Berlin Alexanderplatz, director Burhan Qurbani updates Alfred Döblin's famous novel from 1929 by setting the story in present-day Germany and portraying the lead protagonist as an undocumented immigrant from West Africa.

Veteran arthouse filmmaker Christian Petzold's Undine is inspired by the ancient mythical water creature. The love story stars Paula Beer as a historian specialized in Berlin's urban development. Beer is also nominated in the best actress category for the role.

Both films premiered at the Berlinale in February and were submitted as Germany's entry for best foreign film at the Oscars — but another work was selected for the Academy Awards' consideration, the Antifa drama And Tomorrow the Entire World.  

The other nominated features for Best European Film 2020 are Another Round by Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, Corpus Christi by Polish filmmaker Jan Komasa, Martin Eden by Italy's Pietro Marcello, and The Painted Bird by the Czech Vaclav Marhoul. 

The German filmmakers didn't get a nod in the best director category; Vinterberg, Marcello and Komasa were nominated alongside Agnieszka Holland, Francois Ozon and Maria Sodahl.

A difficult period for European cinema

This year, the number of nominations in the categories best feature film and best documentary was increased from five to six, "in order to widen the platform to more European films in what is such a difficult time for European cinema and artists," said Mike Downey, chairman of the EFA board. 

The awards gala usually takes place every second year in Berlin and every other year in another European city, but due to the pandemic, it will be replaced this year by a virtual ceremony on December 12.

The film academy has been presenting the European Film Awards since 1988. Recent winners include The Favourite, Cold War, The Square and Toni Erdmann.

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