Berlin Film Festival Announces GWFF Best First Feature Award Jury

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Since 2006, when it introduced the GWFF Best First Feature Award, the Berlinale has been even more committed to supporting the next generation of film makers. The award is endowed with 50,000 Euros, donated by the GWFF (Gesellschaft zur Wahrnehmung von Film- und Fernsehrecht), a society dedicated to safeguarding film and television rights. The prize money is to be split between the producer and the director of the winning film. Additionally, the director will be awarded with a high-quality viewfinder as both a useful instrument and memorable trophy.

Festival Director Dieter Kosslick and the heads of the Competition, Panorama, Forum, Generation and Perspektive Deutsches Kino sections have nominated a total of 16 directorial debuts. The winners will be announced at the official Award Ceremony in the Berlinale Palast on February 18.

A three-person jury will decide on the GWFF Best First Feature Award:

Jayro Bustamante (Photo credit:

Jayro Bustamante (Guatemala)
In 2015 with his debut feature, Ixcanul, Jayro Bustamante was the first Guatemalan director invited to participate in the Competition of the Berlinale. Cast with amateur actors from the region of the Kaqchikel Maya, the film won the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize. Ixcanul went on to screen at 60 other film festivals, including those in Karlovy Vary, Jerusalem, Telluride, Toronto, Biarritz, Cartagena, Mumbai, Guadalajara, Ghent, and San Sebastián, and took home 52 awards. What is more, Ixcanul was the second Guatemalan movie ever submitted for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Jayro Bustamante, who had previously studied in Paris and Rome, as well as directed commercials for Ogilvy & Matter, has also made a variety of short, documentary, and animated films. Currently he is working on his next two full-length feature films: Temblores and Los tenis de barrondo.


Clotilde Courau (Photo credit: Roch Armando)

Clotilde Courau (France)

Clotilde Courau began her acting career at 16 and performed on stage while still at acting school. For her screen debut in Jacques Doillon’s The Little Gangster, which ran in the Berlinale Competition in 1991, she received the European Film Award and her first nomination for a César. Ever since, Clotilde Courau has been an established star of French cinema. She is known for films such as Elisa (dir: Jean Becker, 1995); The Bait (dir: Bertrand Tavernier, 1995); the opening film of the Berlinale 2007, La vie en rose (dir: Olivier Dahan); and In the Shadow of Women (dir: Philippe Garrel, 2015). She has also starred in international productions, e.g. in Paul Mazursky’s The Pickle (1993) and Rod Lurie’s Deterrence (1999). Courau regularly performs on the stage: recently she played in “Piaf, l’être intime”, which she also directed. Her latest film Le Ciel attendra by Marie Castille Mention-Schaar will open in German cinemas in 2017.


Mahmoud Sabbagh (Photo credit: Ahmed Mater)

Mahmoud Sabbagh (Saudi Arabia)

Born in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) in 1983, author, director and producer Mahmoud Sabbagh presented his debut feature, Barakah Meets Barakah, in the Berlinale’s Forum section in 2016. There this remarkably humorous film won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. It went on to be screened at, e.g., the Toronto International Film Festival, and ultimately entered the race – only the second Saudi Arabian film ever to do so – for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. For some years now, Sabbagh, who has a degree in documentary filmmaking from New York’s Columbia University, has been considered one of the pioneers of a new independent generation of filmmakers in his country. Among other works, he has directed and penned a documentary on the controversial poet Hamza Shehata as well as the highly-regarded online TV series Cash.


The following 16 films are nominated for the GWFF Best First Feature Award:

Competition (2)

Django – France
By Etienne Comar
With Reda Kateb, Cécile de France, Alex Brendemühl, Ulrich Brandhoff

Wilde Maus – Austria
By Josef Hader
With Josef Hader, Pia Hierzegger, Georg Friedrich, Jörg Hartmann, Denis Moschitto

Panorama (2)

Kaygı (Inflame) – Turkey
By Ceylan Özgün Özçelik
With Algı Eke, Özgür Çevik

Pieles (Skins) – Spain
By Eduardo Casanova
With Ana Polvorosa, Candela Peña, Carmen Machi, Macarena Gómez, Secun de la Rosa, Jon Kortajarena, Antonio Duran “Morris”, Eloi Costa

Forum (3)

Adiós entusiasmo (So Long Enthusiasm) – Argentina / Colombia
By Vladimir Durán
With Camilio Castiglione, Mariel Fernandez, Laila Maltz, Martina Juncadella, Verónica Llinás

Casa Roshell – Mexico / Chile
By Camila José Donoso
With Roshell Terranova, Liliana Alba, Lia García, Diego Alberico, Cristian Aravena

Motza el hayam (Low Tide) – Israel / France
By Daniel Mann
With Gal Hoyberger, Susanne Gschwendtner, Amnon Wolf, Eran Ivanir, Oleg Levin

Generation (5)

As duas Irenes (Two Irenes) – Brazil
By Fabio Meira
With Priscila Bittencourt, Isabela Torres

Butterfly Kisses – United Kingdom
By Rafael Kapelinski
With Theo Stevenson, Liam Whiting

Estiu 1993 (Summer 1993) – Spain
By Carla Simón
With Laia Artigas, Paula Robles

Freak Show – USA
By Trudie Styler
With Alex Lawther, Abigail Breslin

Wallay – France / Burkina Faso / Qatar
By Berni Goldblat
With Makan Nathan Diarra, Ibrahim Koma

Perspektive Deutsches Kino (4)

Back for Good – Germany
By Mia Spengler
With Kim Riedle, Juliane Köhler, Leonie Wesselow, Nicki von Tempelhoff

Die beste aller Welten (The Best Of All Worlds) – Germany / Austria
By Adrian Goiginger
With Verena Altenberger, Jeremy Miliker, Lukas Miko, Michael Pink

Millennials – Germany
By Jana Bürgelin
With Anne Zohra Berrached, Leonel Dietsche, Jan Koslowski, Anna Herrmann

Die Tochter (Dark Blue Girl) – Germany
By Mascha Schilinski
With Helena Zengel, Karsten Antonio Mielke, Artemis Chalkidou

All nominated films will celebrate their world premiere at the Berlinale 2017.


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