Hof Gold Prize goes to Sevgi and Chris Hirschhäuser for their debut film TOPRAK


The Hof Gold Prize of the Friedrich Baur Foundation 2020 awarded by the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in memory of Heinz Badewitz is awarded for the best directing performance for a first feature film. The Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts appoints an annually changing mentor from its film and media arts department to select the prize winner. This year two mentors have taken on the task: the directors and authors Edgar Reitz (among others HEIMAT, DIE ANDERE HEIMAT) and Bernhard Sinkel (among others VÄTER UND SÖHNE, LINA BRAAKE).

The prize consists of a one kilogram certified bar of gold (current trade value approx. 52,000 euros). In addition, the prize includes the artistic advisory for the director in the development of a new film for more than one year.

The HOF GOLD PRIZE of the Friedrich Baur Foundation awarded by the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in Memory of Heinz Badewitz goes to:

SEVGI HIRSCHHÄUSER and her cinematographer and co-producer CHRIS HIRSCHHÄUSER for her debut film TOPRAK

From the statement of the mentors Edgar Reitz and Bernhard Sinkel:

"In loving images, the film tells the story of a boy who grew up as an orphan near a Turkish village with his grandmother and an unmarried uncle. Burak is now reaching an age when he will have to decide whether to continue the life of his poor and pious uncle Cemil, or to leave the traditional country life and seek his fortune through university studies. If it were only a matter of his personal choice, Burak would even be prepared to fight his way through the meager life as a fruit farmer alongside his upright uncle. But when the grandmother falls ill and dies in agony, both the uncle and the boy reach the limits of their strength. Neither the mother, nor the proud Cemil, nor the boy Burak can be saved by love of their homeland and piety.

The film by Sevgi Hirschhäuser tells a story that could happen in many places in the world, because the decay of rural ways of life and the loss of the traditional homeland is spreading everywhere, but nevertheless TOPRAK is a unique and in its images absolutely unmistakable narrative. The faces of the protagonists, the lonely hut where they live and the dusty country road where they sell their pomegranates remain unforgettable. The film tells a farewell story. In all its images, the painful feeling arises that, as the film brings it back to life, things will never be the same again. A sadness pervades this film, which for the author and her partner, the co-producer and cameraman Chris Hirschhäuser, was obviously the determining motive for making this work. The jurors were especially touched by the two filmmakers' palpable involvement in the story of their protagonists, which has an inner credibility that has become a rare exception in the cinema".

Sevgi Hirschhäuser works as an editor, scriptwriter, producer and director and has already gained a lot of film experience in various functions within the film industry. Her husband, Chis Hirschhäuser, works as a cameraman and photographer. Together they shot in Sevgi’s mother’s home village with a small team and produced the film without any film or television funding.

The competition for the HOF GOLD PRIZE of the Friedrich Baur Foundation automatically includes all directors whose feature-length films premiere at the Hof International Film Festival and are German productions. This year 14 films were nominated.