"You are all heroes!"

Strong messages and touched winners at the awards ceremony of the 37th Braunschweig International Film Festival. The EUROPA goes to Cécile de France, the Volkswagen Financial Services Film Prize and the HEINRICH are awarded to Belgian director Veerle Baetens for WHEN IT MELTS. Gifhorn film composer Vanessa Donelly is also among the award winners.

 "Braunschweig and Hanover are friends!" Denise M'Baye, who won the Heimspiel Award last year for her role in THE ORDINARIES, made it clear right from the start: it's not just the filmmakers who form a family, but Braunschweig and Hanover also belong together. The actress, who lives in Hanover, acted as a charming host for the evening - in fact, she literally embraced it.

It was an evening full of surprises. The jury and audience were obviously in complete agreement when it came to the two prizes, the Volkswagen Financial Services Film Award and Der HEINRICH, each of which came with prize money of 10,000 euros. Both prizes went to the drama WHEN IT MELTS, which celebrated its German premiere at the 37th Braunschweig International Film Festival (BIFF). Actress Veerle Baetens celebrated her directorial debut with this work - and was visibly moved: "Producing films is a very long road. For me, it's about giving a platform to people who are not seen." Co-writer Maarten Loix added: "We didn't expect to win any awards, and certainly not two." Baetens revealed that she is currently working on her second film. The prize money is a great help for this.


"The film is a reminder that life exists in all its diversity."


The evening's guests were also impressed by the commitment of the people of Braunschweig: several prizes are made possible by Braunschweig's urban society, including the TILDA, which is donated by 75 women. It went to the Brazilian filmmaker Lillah Halla, who was honored for her film POWER ALLEY. "I could hardly be happier," she beamed via a video message and fittingly reported: "By the way, my next film will be shot in Lower Saxony!" Speaking of Lower Saxony. The Heimspiel Award is also a big exclamation mark - it honors productions with a regional connection. It went to Vanessa Donelly from Gifhorn for her work on THE ANGEL IN THE WALL. The film composer was moved to describe her work: "Music is my passion. It's what I do best and what I've been doing my whole life." She doesn't want her compositions to remain in the background: "I want people to come out of the cinema and look for the film music directly."


Author and composer Dr. Michaela Dudley, Tatort detective Karin Hanczewski and producer Sophie Ahrens also formed a refreshing trio on stage - the ECHT jury. It was awarded to Tünde Skovrán for the documentary film WHO AM I NOT. "The film is a reminder that life exists in its diversity. It reinforces that the queer community does not want special rights, but simply their rights," said Dudley. Skovrán also underlined this: "It's not nature that draws boundaries between us - it's us." Meanwhile, the ECHT jury awarded an honorable mention to ALONG CAME LOVE by director Katell Quillévéré. "An inspiring drama that made a lasting impression on us as a jury."


French-German Youth Award KINEMA for Angela Ottobah


The EDDA short film award went to Estonia this year: Priit Tender was delighted to receive an award for DOG-APARTMENT. He even joined in via video, making the audience laugh. "So now I can proudly say: I'm from Braunschweig." Director Angela Ottobah, who presented the German premiere of RAPTURE at the BIFF, was delighted to receive several nominations. She goes home with the German-French youth award KINEMA. "Angela Ottobah tells a story of inexhaustible resilience of children in the face of abuse and parental influence," explained the jury of six students.


The Green Horizons Award, meanwhile, honors the best film on the topic of sustainability - it went to director Matthieu Rytz for DEEP RISING, a work about the fragile ecosystem of the deep sea. Jury member Alessandro Lombardo (mindjazz pictures) commented: "Every film in this series addresses an important topic and deserves to be seen. Some filmmakers have invested up to ten years of work in their work." Award winner Rytz passed on the flowers: "I am especially happy for our planet and the ocean that the film has won this award. It's great that I can share this story with you."


Eline Doenst: A promising acting future


Cineastes should also make a note of Eline Doenst, who was born in 2006. The Berlin native plays the lead role in JONJA by director Anika Mätzke - at the award ceremony, she received the Braunschweig Film Prize, which is endowed with 5,000 euros and is aimed at the best up-and-coming German-speaking actors. The jury had the warmest words: "A remarkable performance that impressed us deeply. Even in the moments when you didn't speak in the movie, you are true. Fragile, yet at the same time impenetrable and self-confident." He continued: "You must continue on your path, we see a promising future for you in the film industry." Doenst himself was at a loss for words. "Acting gives me so much joy - I love it. And today I just feel incredibly honored," said the Berlin native.


Cécile de France with stories about humanity


Film critic Michael Ranze, who gave the laudatory speech for Cécile de France, winner of the EUROPA Award, was full of praise. "One thing can definitely be said: Cécile de France chose the right profession 36 years ago. She is a damn good, versatile actress - she loves contrasts and diversity." A Belgian who is one of the best-known French-speaking actresses - a European. Ranze: "Cécile de France is a wanderer between the barriers of Europe, which is why the EUROPA award is the perfect prize for her." The award meant a lot to de France herself. "I am simply a very happy actress because I can do exactly this job and tell stories about humanity."


The award, which comes with the highest prize money of 25,000 euros, was presented by Anthony Bandmann, Member of the Board of Management of main sponsor Volkswagen Financial Services. "In addition to the many great actors and filmmakers, our thanks go above all to the film festival itself, which brings glamor to Braunschweig with the Braunschweig International Film Festival," said Bandmann. Presenter M'Baye also concluded by emphasizing to all filmmakers: "Regardless of whether you have won tonight or not - you have all worked long and hard on your works. That's why, one way or another, you are all real heroes!"


The final screenings and events of the 37th Braunschweig International Film Festival will take place this Sunday, November 12. Further information can be found at as well as daily updates on the festival's social media channels.