On a beautiful set bringing the welcoming street life and tapas bars of Seville onstage, the 31st European Film Awards kicked off with a powerful flamenco number by renowned Sevillian choreographer and dancer Andrés Marín. EFA Chairwoman Agnieszka Holland then introduced the evening’s hosts Rossy de Palma (Spain), Ashraf Barhom (Israel), Amira Casar (France), Anamaria Marinca (Romania), Ivan Shvedoff (Russia) and Tom Wlaschiha (Germany).
After a medley of clips of the nominated films, the Spanish actress and Goya-winner Emma Suarez presented the EURIMAGES Co-Production Award. The prize, acknowledging the decisive role of co-productions in fostering international exchange, went to Konstantinos Kontovrakis and Giorgos Karnavas of Heretic Productions in Athens. The Greek producers thanked the academy and dedicated their award to everybody they work with.
Last year’s EFA Winner Alexandra Borbély then came on stage and presented the award European Actor to Marcello Fonte for his impressive performance in DOGMAN. Visibly moved, the actor complimented the other nominees on their performances and expressed his gratitude – all in Italian!
EFA Chairwoman Agnieszka Holland and Deputy Chairman Mike Downey addressed the difficult political situation of artists who are being censored and locked away. Singling out the Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov who has been sentenced to 20 years in prison and went on a hunger strike, and the Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov who lives under house arrest, their statement culminated in standing ovations for human rights.
German actor Alexander Fehling, best known for his roles in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and the HOMELAND series, introduced the nominations for European Discovery – Prix FIPRESCI, an award presented to a young and upcoming director for a first full-length feature film. This year’s award went to GIRL by Lukas Dhont from Belgium. Stating that “the biggest power of any artist is empathy,” the director dedicated the award to the main actor Viktor Polster and to Nora Monsecour, the young trans girl at the base of the film.
Known internationally for her role as Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden in KINGSMAN, Swedish actress Hanna Alström presented the category European Animated Feature Film. The award went to Raul de la Fuente & Damian Nenow for ANOTHER DAY OF LIFE, about the legendary Polish war correspondent Ryszard Kapuściński.
With various international nominations for her part across Daniel Day-Lewis in PHANTOM THREAD, Vicky Krieps from Luxembourg next introduced the nominations for European Screenwriter. The award was the first in a series that ended up going to COLD WAR. Director/Screenwriter Paweł Pawlikowski thanked his parents, whom the film is based on, “for having lived such a disastrous and ultimately beautiful life”.
EFA President Wim Wenders came on stage to present the Honorary Award of the EFA President and Board to Costa-Gavras, the legendary Greek-born director who shot to international fame in 1967 with his political thriller Z. In an emotional speech, the director thanked Wim Wenders and the EFA for setting “an example for what Europe should be.”
After a performance by celebrated flamenco singer Rocío Marques, Rossy de Palma came back onstage to deliver a message of sorority: “Be strong and love yourself, women!”
European Comedy went to THE DEATH OF STALIN by Armando Iannucci who said, “as the first person from the UK on this stage, can I say: I love Europe!” and continued to point out that, “if different countries came together in a community, a union, it’s a very good idea and I’m going to take that idea back to the UK after this evening!”
Certainly the evening’s most hilarious laudatory, erm, speech, came from Rossy de Palma and Carlos Areces, singing themselves through a repertoire of dancefloor classics which culminated in an astonished Carmen Maura listening to EFA President Wim Wenderspresenting her with the EFA Lifetime Achievement Award. In tears, and getting all her languages charmingly mixed up, the Maura confessed: “I am very happy with this, encantida, en tous cas, je suis très fier, I am very proud!”
French actress, former fashion model, and singer Emmanuelle Seigner announced the winner of the award European Director, another award that went to COLD WAR. Paweł Pawlikowski used the opportunity to admit: “To see Carmen Maura embody this beautiful European chaos that’s within us, moved me to tears!”
Czech actress Anna Geislerová, internationally most known for THE IDIOT RETURNS (1999), ŽELARY (2003) and SOMETHING LIKE HAPPINESS (2005), presented the European Documentary. Winning with BERGMAN – A YEAR IN A LIFE, Swedish director Jane Magnusson admitted she was “shocked and honoured”, thanked Ingmar Bergman and the inspiration he has given to so many filmmakers all over the world.
To standing ovations, the legendary Spanish actress Victoria Abril presented Ralph Fiennes with the award European Achievement in World Cinema. The British actor wondered aloud, “Can I be English and European?” and answered himself immediately: “emphatically, yes!” “It is depressing and distressing” he said of the current crisis in Europe, and added, “in England now there is only the noise of division.”
The final award of the evening, European Film was presented by British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, known for DIRTY PRETTY THINGS (2002) and 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013), to name only two. It didn’t come as a surprise that also this award went to COLD WAR which ended up taking home five awards, among them also European Actress, presented by César-winner Nahuel Pérez Biscayart.
Presented by legendary Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan, European Short Film went to THE YEARS by Sara Fgaier. Voted for by film fans across Europe, the People’s Choice Award went to CALL ME BY YOUR NAME by Luca Guadagnino. And decided on by a special eight-member jury of representatives of the different arts and crafts, these were the EFA Excellence Awards: