The award winner

from left to right: Sonja Hofmann, Silke Räbiger (IWFF), Georg Quander (City of Cologne), Belma Baş (Awardee), Xiaolu Guo, Lucy Virgen, Julia Jentsch (Jury)

The International Debut Feature Award for Women Film Directors, which comes with a prize of 10,000 EUR, went to Turkish film director Belma Baş and her film Zefir. In translation, the title means "a soft breeze blowing from the west" and is taken from the mythological name for Zephyr, the jealous God of the West Wind. Ms Baş tells the story of the eleven-year-old Zefir who, having been ditched by her mother, spends the summer at her grandparents in the countryside. Against the background of the majestic highland and forest scenery of the Turkish Black Sea region, the girl waits each day for her mother to return. The director finds breathaking pictures to project the deceptive idyll that is nature.

Belma Baş worked for several years as an advisor on Turkish films at the festivals in Cannes and Montreal and was also active as a festival organiser. Following numerous screenings at film festivals worldwide, Zefir received its German premiere at this year's International Women's Film Festival in Cologne.

The jury 2012 – which was made up of German actress Julia Jentsch, Chinese film director Xiaolu Guo and Mexican film critic Lucy Virgen – selected Zefir as the best Debut Feature Film of 2012, basing their argument as follows:
" … for its profound and poetic revelations about humankind and nature, about the relationship between the individual and society and about the fundamental issues of life and death. Thanks to the truly splendid cinematographic language, the film-maker has succeeded in narrating a simple and authentic story that surpasses all audience expectations".

An Honourable Mention went to French director duo Delphine and Muriel Coulin and their film 17 Filles ... "for its sensitive portrayal of young women in the modern world and of their search for identity in society".

17 Filles is the story of an unusual pact. Seventeen girls at a grammar school in Lorient, a somewhat bleak town in Brittany, decide to get pregnant all at the same time.