It's Great to Win!
When the guests convened in Berlin for this year's Felix, the 9th European Film Awards, they were welcomed by British producer Nik Powell, new chairman of the EFA Board, and Spanish actress Rosana Pastor.
After he had shocked the audience with his mobile phone ringing (only to remind guests to switch theirs off!) Nik Powell introduced this year's jury headed by Italian writer/director Ettore Scola.
The first award winner of the evening was announced by German actor Rüdiger Vogler. He presented the award European Actress of the Year to Emily Watson for her role in BREAKING THE WAVES.
Ettore Scola brought a special European touch to the stage when he said, «I'm an Italian director but I don't speak English so I'll say some few words in French.» He then held a fervent speech saying how Europe had the greatest screenwriters but at a time when cinema hadn't been invented. He stated that Maupassant, Dickens, Manzoni and Chekhov, were they alive today, would be writing for the screen. Scola then announced the European Screenwriter of the Year, an award that went to Arif Aliyef, Sergej Bodrov and Boris Giller for the Russian-Kazakh drama PRISONER OF THE MOUNTAINS.
Next on stage was Icelandic filmmaker Hrafn Gunnlaugsson who announced that the Screen International Five Continents Award went to Jim Jarmusch for DEAD MEN. Jarmusch couldn't attend, on his behalf there were cinematographer Robby Müller and actors Gary Farmer and Johnny Depp to accept the award.
Nominated for the Young European Film of the Year were BEAUTIFUL THING by Hettie Macdonald (UK), LEA by Ivan Fila (Germany) and SOME MOTHER'S SON by Terry George (Ireland). The award, presented by American producer Samuel Goldwyn jr, went to Terry George.
Accompanied by music from the Klezmer-duo Boris Rosenthal & Igor Ginsburg, the evening continued with Jörg Röggeberg, ARTE's vice president, announcing the Prix ARTE European Documentary Award for Jerzy Sladkowski and Stanislav Krzeminski from Poland.
French actress Sabine Azéma apologised for her English and announced that the Academy was «delighted to invite Sir Ian McKellen» who received the award European Actor of the Year for his lead in RICHARD III and was «absolutely thrilled.»
Ben Kingsley, who has been with the Academy ever since it was founded, finally announced the award European Film of the Year for Lars von Trier's BREAKING THE WAVES. Von Trier, who refuses to travel, wasn't there but an overjoyed producer, Vibeke Windeløv, exclaimed, «It's great to win!» Indeed.