Five Years: The First Little Anniversary
For its fifth anniversary, the European Film Awards were again celebrated at the Babelsberg Film Studios outside of Berlin. The guests were welcomed by Wim Wenders, chairman of the European Film Academy, who introduced the hosts of the evening, Austrian actress Senta Berger and her British colleague Ben Kingsley.
The evening was kicked off with a clip from members of the European Film Academy including Stephen Frears, Chantal Akerman, Marin Karmitz, Heinz Ugureit, Claude Lelouch, Paulo & Vittorio Taviani, and Fanny Ardant.
After a performance by Belgian musical group Zap Mama, five women with a medley stretching from old African songs to Spanish church music from the 16th century, another clip featured German actor Otto Sander who, in reference to the film WINGS OF DESIRE, sent his congratulations for this «first little anniversary» from the golden angel on top of Berlin's Siegessäule (victory column).
From the films submitted by 28 countries for this year's awards, the final jury voted for the winners and Dutch actress and member of the jury Monique van de Ven presented the first awards of the evening, European Supporting Actor and Actress of the Year. The awards went to André Wilms from France for his role in Kaurismäkis's LA VIE DE BOHEME and to Ghita Nørby from Denmark for FREUD FLYTTAR HEMIFRAN. Wilms accepted his award with a German quote, Nørby thanked the Academy and said, «I'm proud and I'm very happy to be here!»
The next presenter was Swedish actor Erland Josephson who announced the European Screenwriter of the Year, an award that went to István Szabó from Hungary Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis then came on stage to announce European Composer of the Year which went to DE NOORDERLINGEN from the Netherlands. The film's composer Vincent van Warmerdam said he was honoured to receive this award fro the hands of Mr Theodorakis before another musical interlude, a performance by Swiss singer Stephan Eicher.
Ben Kingsley then announced a filmed postcard from Scotland where David Puttnam was filming with a very Scottish Robin Williams. Also from Scotland was the next presenter, actress Tilda Swinton who presented the European Documentary Film of the Year award to the Lithuanian documentary EARTH OF THE BLIND by Audrius Stonys. The director received not just the Felix but also a donation by ARTE of 50,000 DM to make another film and he accepted the award with a speech in Lithuanian which he afterwards translated to «This honourable award will be brought to my mother country Lithuania in our mutual home Europe – Thank you!»
The next postcard featured Bernardo Bertolucci and Jeremy Thomas shooting LITTLE BUDDHA in Kathmandu before Italian actress Stefania Sandrelli presented Young European Film of the Year to the Dutch film DE NOORDERLINGEN. The award came accompanied by a donation of Mercedes Benz of 100,000 D-Mark and director Alex van Warmerdam thanked «the jury and everybody who participated in the production of this film.»
As a highlight of the evening German director Volker Schlöndorff presented this year's Lifetime Achievement Award. The honour was bestowed upon legendary filmmaker Billy Wilder who sent his greetings by video. To standing ovations, he accepted the award «with great pride and also with a bit of anxiety,» because, as he explained, his maid had threatened to quit her job he ever brought home «something else that needs to be dusted.»
Spanish actress Carmen Maura next greeted the audience with a friendly «Hola! Buenas Noches a todos» and presented European Actor to Matti Pellonpää for LA VIE DE BOHEME. The Finnish actor surprised the audience with a German poem he had learned at school.
Another actor was next, Otto Sander, to present European Actress of the Year, an award which went to Juliette Binoche for LES AMANTS DU PONT-NEUF.
Before the award for Best Film of the Year was announced, another highlight of the event brought English violinist Nigel Kennedy to the stage for a performance which even included a new version of the EFA fanfare.
To present the final award of the ceremony, EFA Members Margarethe von Trotta, Carlos Saura and Wim Wenders appeared and announced IL LADRO DI BAMBINI as the winner.
The films Italian director, Gianni Amelio, had already once received the Felix before and thanked the EFA by saying: «Il Felix ha un solo difetto – é troppo pesante.» (Felix has just one mistake – he's too heavy) and said he'd give the award to his main actor, Enrico lo Verso.
In a final postcard, veteran Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira sent his regards. As Senta Berger explained, it was Oliveira's birthday and to celebrate it, the director came on stage to be surprised by actor Miguel Luis Cintra with a birthday cake.