“Cinema as an instrument of social change”
After Berlin and Paris, the third European Film Awards started with a Scottish greeting: “from the mountains and lochs of Strathclyde: Welcome to Glasgow, cultural capital of Europe 1990!”
The Awards Ceremony was celebrated at the newly built Royal Concert Hall, with the typical Scottish music provided by the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band. On a set representing a film ribbon which ran through the auditorium and onto the stage, the audience was welcomed by the evening's hosts, British TV presenters Melvyn Bragg and Sheena McDonald.
They kicked off the evening by introducing the European Film Awards trophy: “This is Felix by the German artist Markus Lüpertz.” and explained that 26 countries had entered their best productions for this year's Awards, with each country being allowed two feature films and one documentary released in the past 12 months.
The final jury of Ingmar Bergman, President of the European Cinema Society, his fellow directors Theo Angelopoulos (Greece) and Margarethe von Trotta (Germany), screenwriters Suso Cecchi d’Amico (Italy) and Andrei Smirnov (USSR), and actresses Jeanne Moreau (France) and Deborah Karr (UK) screened all nominated films and decided on this year's winners.
The first award of the evening, European Supporting Actor of the Year, was presented by young British actress Tilda Swinton to her Russian colleague Dmitrij Pevsov for MOTHER (USSR). European Supporting Actress of the Year went to Malin Ek from Sweden for her role in THE GUARDIAN ANGEL. The award was presented by the Fine Young Canibal's Roland Gift.
Bringing a bit of Spain to Glasgow was actress Victoria Abril when she welcomed everyone with a warm “buenas tardes” before presenting “el premio revelación” (European Discovery of the Year) to Italian actor Ennio Fantastichini for his role in PORTE APERTE by Gianni Amelio. The film also won Gian Maria Volonté a Special Award “for his genius and generosity”, and received the award European Film of the Year 1990.
Italian jury member Suso Cecchi d’Amico was next, presenting European Screenwriter of the Year to Vitaly Kanevsky for ZAMRI – OUMRI – VOSKRESNI (USSR).
Another Special Award, also presented by German director and jury member Margarethe von Trotta, went to the film DECEMBER BRIDE by Thaddeus O’Sullivan.
After a film clip about production design from Almeria, Spain, Hungarian director István Szabó presented the award European Production Designer of the Year to Ezio Frigerio and Franca Squarciapino for CYRANO DE BERGERAC.
Another clip assembled images from and about Scottish cinema – from 1910 to today before British filmmaker Stephen Frears arrived to present the award European Cinematographer of the Year to Tonino Nardi for PORTE APERTE.
Presenting the European Cinema Society Special Awards were founding members David Puttnam (UK) and Dusan Makavejev (Yugoslavia). As Puttnam announced, the European Cinema Society's Special Award went to the Association of Soviet Filmmakers “for reminding us of the value of cinema as an instrument of social change” and for “the role the association continues to play in the difficult transition to a fully democratic system.”
There to accept the award were filmmakers Maria Svereva and Andrei Smirnov who thanked the Society and said that they were very proud but also very confused because they were not only representing the new Russian freedom “but also the empty shelves in our shops and the total crisis of our country,” and said it was a bit like “standing here in black tie and with naked bottom.”
Next was the European Documentary Film of the Year, presented by Marceline Loridan-Ivens and Murray Grigor to the Latvian filmmaker Ivars Seleckis for his film THE CROSSROAD.
German actress Nastassja Kinski presented European Actor of the Year to Kenneth Branagh for HENRY V. The British actor thanked the jury by video message from California, something he would soon do again for also receiving Young European Film of the Year, announced by French actress Jeanne Moreau.
European Actress of the Year went to Carmen Maura from Spain for AY CARMELA! She received the award from the hands of Swedish actor Max von Sydow.
Another highlight was the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Andrzej Wajda. Presenting the award was actor Ben Kingsley (UK) who talked about the first film he saw by Wajda when he was a schoolboy and read out a letter from Ingmar Bergman.
The Polish director thanked the European Cinema Society, said that he believed that he had received the award also “as a representative of the many film directors who were born and have worked east of the Berlin Wall,” and stated his wish to share the award with political filmmakers.
Bringing the ceremony to a close was Sir Richard Attenborough who talked about the twin desires shared by each and every European: “To find strength through unity without losing our individual identity.” He said that film has a unique role to play “in resolving these two seemingly conflicting aims,” and stated: “Through cinema, we're allowed for a short space of time to live other lives, to inhibit other places. And when we emerge to carry with us always some parts of those other lives and others places, film has enabled us to understand them and to embrace them.”
Next year, the European Film Awards will return to their birthplace Berlin, now a united city, from where German director Wim Wenders sent a video greeting.