07 September 2021
He is a radical filmmaker, euphorically celebrated or resolutely rejected, yet no one indifferent: this year FILMFEST HAMBURG will award the Douglas Sirk Award to the secret superstar of French cinema, Leos Carax. The award ceremony will take place on Saturday, 2 October, on the occasion of the German premiere of his new film Annette (France, Belgium, Germany, USA, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland 2021) at CinemaxX Dammtor.
After nine years, Leos Carax has scored a new hit: The musical and melodrama about a love, show business and a child star is a cinema event, excessive and moving. In it, Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard embody a glamorous couple in Los Angeles – Henry as an eccentric stand-up comedian with a tendency to lose control and Ann as a renowned opera diva adored by the public. Then their first child is born – Annette, a mysterious girl with an extraordinary gift who will change Henry and Ann’s lives. Annette is Leos Carax’s first English-language feature film and opened this year’s Cannes International Film Festival. There the audience was at his feet, Carax won the director’s award. In Hamburg, he will now be awarded the Douglas Sirk Award for his services to film culture.
At the 2012 Honorary Leopard Award ceremony in Locarno, Carax said that as a child he wanted nothing but to travel. “Then I discovered film. I understood that it was enough to dive into the darkness of cinema to get to know the whole world.” Born Alexandre Oscar Dupont in 1960 in Suresnes near Paris, father French, mother American, he wrote reviews for the “Cahiers du Cinéma” under the direction of the legendary Serge Daney and was a regular at the Paris Cinémathèque. There he saw and taught himself everything he needed for his later work. He never attended a film school.
His career as a director is marked by highs and lows. With his first two feature films Boy Meets Girl (1984) and The Night Is Young (1986), Leos Carax established himself and was considered the greatest talent in French cinema. Alongside Luc Besson and Jean-Jacques Beineix, he belonged to the generation of French filmmakers who shaped the “Cinéma du look” with their strikingly artificial, stylised mise en scène. After his worldwide success of Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (1991), the crash followed at the end of the 1990s. The Melville adaptation Pola X (1999) was a flop, and the former wunderkind Carax was no longer in the picture. His next feature film did not follow until 13 years later. With Holy Motors (2012) he made an impressive comeback and created one of the defining films of the decade. Holy Motors is Carax’s furious reckoning with the dullness of the entertainment industry and at the same time a deep bow to cinema as it once was. The film also contains a scene sung by Kylie Minogue – it seems like an anticipation of the long-awaited musical Annette, which has finally been realised and is celebrating its German premiere in Hamburg.
The Douglas Sirk Award, named after the director born in Hamburg as Detlef Sierck, is the most prestigious award of FILMFEST HAMBURG and has been an integral part of the festival since 1995. It is annually awarded to a personality who has rendered outstanding services to film culture and the film industry through his or her work. Previous award winners are Nina Hoss (2019), Jafar Panahi (2018), Wim Wenders (2017), Catherine Deneuve (2015), Fatih Akin (2014), Tilda Swinton (2013) and Kim Ki-duk (2012).
FILMFEST HAMBURG will take place from 30 September to 9 October 2021. Around 100 productions from all over the world will be shown as European, German or Hamburg premieres. Festival cinemas are the Abaton, CinemaxX Dammtor, Metropolis, Passage and the Studio-Kino. The complete programme will be announced on 14 September, advance ticket sales start on 16 September.