When the times get rough, it is important to be prudent and concentrate on the essential. Facing severe budget cuts, the European Film Academy had to do just that: instead of an evening gala, this year's European Film Awards were celebrated on a Sunday morning in a mirror tent. And the Academy concentrated on the essential – the films.
Instead of an overexcited red carpet entry, the likes of Michel Piccoli, Krysztof Kieslowski and Nanni Moretti casually came strolling by, as if they had stumbled across the event by chance when taking their morning walk.
After a multi-lingual welcome by Wim Wenders, Swedish acting icon Max von Sydow presented this year's nominees for the award Young Film of the Year: Janos Szasz for WOYZECK, a re-interpretation of the Büchner classic, Agnès Merlet for LE FILS DU REQUIN, the story of two boys who, left by their mother, have to master life on their own, and Bakhtiyar Khudojnazarov for KOSH BA KOSH, his film about normal life in Dujanbe, in times not normal.
The Serbian director Dusan Makavejev announced the winner – the award went ex-aequo to Agnès Merlet, who hoped that this would give the film wider European distribution, and to Janos Szasz.
A rather sober moment was the presentation of this year's documentary award to the Saga-Group from Sarajevo, a collective trying to resist the picture painted in the West about their war-struck homecountry. As filmmaker Ademir Kenovic who was present to accept the award, said, «I wouldn't wish anybody to get the same award for trying to survive and document similar horrors!»
Michel Piccoli presented the award for European Film of the Year which went to Gianni Amelio for L'AMERICA. As the Italian director said, he originally set out to make a film about Albania but eventually he realised that he had made a film about Italy. «Getting to know Albania,» he said, «brought back memories of the Italy of my childhood, the Italy of my father, and it made me think about the Italy of today.» It is already the third time that Amelio wins the Felix.
The Felix of the Critics went to CARO DIARIO by Nanni Moretti who said that he has no idea why it «is more succesful abroad than my other films. Lucky me, otherwise I would always make the same kind of films.»
This year' European Film Academy Lifetime Achievement Award went to the legendary French director Robert Bresson.