CineMerit Award | Ralph Fiennes

FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is pleased to welcome Ralph Fiennes as our guest on July 1st this year. The British actor and director will be honored with our festival's special award, the CineMerit Award. Fiennes will also participate in a Filmmakers Live! talk in the Gasteig's Black Box, at which fans and guests can pose questions of the Oscar-nominated performer.

Whether as Lord Voldemort or as SS Hauptsturmführer Amon Göth, Ralph Fiennes knows how to lend a personal quality to pure evil. But he can also be an adorably flirtatious concierge, as in Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel". In his acting roles, Ralph Fiennes reinvents himself time and again, gives his characters unexpected facets, and is never afraid to take risks. He's said that a life full of contradictions helps him to make these characters come alive. His unique and intense portrayals have defined such Oscar-winning dramas as "Schindler's List", "The Constant Gardener", and "The English Patient", and have earned him several international awards. It's this versatility that makes Fiennes an outstanding and multifaceted actor who in recent years has also forayed into directing.

That's why FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is showing all three of the films he's directed as well as further movies that display his accomplishments as an actor. The presentation of the CineMerit Award will include a screening of his new film THE WHITE CROW. Fiennes not only directed the film, but also played the part of renowned Leningrad ballet master Alexander Pushkin. One intense look from him, and he has everyone's attention. Dance instructor Pushkin stands in an empty room with calm stoicism and a gentle but determined look. At the ballet barre, his pupils are waiting for his signal. A slight gesture, a terse "Get ready" — and the tone is set. Just as gentle and determined is Fiennes' signature touch. He takes a calm and studious approach to the incredible story of legendary Soviet ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, who astonished the world with his defection to France in 1961. Nureyev is played by world-class Ukrainian ballet dancer Oleg Ivenko.

In CORIOLANUS, his first film as director, Fiennes brought his appreciation of Shakespeare's works to the big screen. Prior to his success in film, Fiennes was long renowned on the English stage. At the young age of 27, he had notable roles in Shakespeare plays at London's National Theatre and with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Even though his career soon led to film, he returned time and again to the theater, playing Hamlet, King Lear, Julius Caesar, and the island sorcerer Prospero. In CORIOLANUS, he plays the haughty, vindictive general Gaius Marcius Coriolanus, who has drawn the resentment of the Roman people upon himself.

In THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, his second film as director, Fiennes also played one of the main characters: legendary British author Charles Dickens, who starts a complicated love affair with a young actress named Nelly. Once again, the director made use of a literary template, Claire Tomalin's novel of the same title. In his relationship with Nelly, Dickens appears dominating and assertive, but actor Ralph Fiennes succeeds nonetheless in revealing the writer's uncertainty and vulnerability when growing older.

Determined and gentle, rebellious and subtle: that's the tone of Ralph Fiennes' work as a director. His films, like his roles, point out life's contradictions.

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