Returning to the German capital for their 20th anniversary, the European Film Awards 2007 at Berlin’s Arena were hosted by French actress Emmanuelle Béart and German actor Jan Josef Liefers.
The evening kicked off with a medley of images from past awards ceremonies showing some of the great faces in European cinema, among them Marcello Mastroianni, Ingmar Bergman, Claude Chabrol, Sean Connery, Juliette Binoche, Ralph Fiennes, Jeremy Irons, Jean Reno, Pedro Almodóvar, Roberto Benigni, Roman Polanski, Carlos Saura and Andrzej Wajda.
The first award of the evening, the People’s Choice Award – voted for by film fans across Europe, was presented by British actress Lucy Russell and her Spanish colleague Sergi Lopez. Accepting the award for LA SCONOSCIUTA by Giuseppe Tornatore was main actress Kseniya Rappoport who thanked the academy in Italian and English and closed with a Russian “spasibo bolshoe!"
House band for the evening was the legendary Finnish band Leningrad Cowboys, known around the world from various films by Aki Kaurismäki, who rocked the hall throughout the ceremony and at the party afterwards.
Next were Danish actress Sonja Richter and German actor Mehmet Kurtulus. Underlining the importance of a script, they presented the screenwriting award to Fatih Akin for THE EDGE OF HEAVEN.
Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen invited everybody to next year’s awards in Copenhagen and promised: “I’ll buy you a beer!” Together with Italian actress Maria Grazia Cucinotta he announced the winner of the award European Actress: Helen Mirren in THE QUEEN. The British actress sent a video message thanking the academy, the screenwriter and director and emphasizing the importance of European cinema. The award European Actor was next and went to Sasson Gabai in THE BAND’S VISIT. The Israeli actor said: “I’m really thrilled! I have to pinch myself to believe it’s true!”
The directing award was then presented by EU Commissioner Viviane Reding and French actor Jean-Marc Barr to Cristian Mungiu for 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS. The director thanked the academy and expressed his hope that the award may help to get more people to go watch his film.
On the occasion of the 20th European Film Awards the national film academies had all sent their award statuette, all displayed on stage.
Maia Morgenstern, who won the 1993 EFA actress award, and Juanjo Puigcorbé who hosted the awards 2004 in Barcelona, presented the discovery award. This award for a debut feature film went to Eran Kolirin for THE BAND’S VISIT which the director commented by exclaiming “I was just discovered!”
After that, EFA President Wim Wenders came on stage for a tribute to Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni, both of whom had died earlier in the year. Liv Ullmann joined him on stage and recalled the first encounter between the two masters in Rome. They called on stage the EFA founding members Henning Carlsen, Jörn Donner, Peter Lilienthal, Jiri Menzel, Jeanne Moreau, Lord David Puttnam, David Rose, Istvan Szabo, Krzysztof Zanussi and Manoel de Oliveira, where they were presented with a special memento – they all received engraved stones from the island of Fårö, Ingmar Bergman’s refuge, where he spent his last years. Manoel de Oliveira who, at almost 100 years of age, is still active in film, also received a special honorary award.
Next were the Polish actors Alicja Bachleda and Maciej Stuhr, last year’s host. They presented the Prix d’Excellence to Uli Hanisch for the production design on PERFUME – THE STORY OF A MURDERER.
Another highlight of the evening arrived in the form of legendary cinematographer Christopher Doyle. He joined the band and, in a whirlwind of passion, presented the award European Achievement in World Cinema to German cinematographer Michael Ballhaus (“you f****** wonderful whore of cinema”). Martin Scorsese sent a video message congratulating him on the award and thanking him for his work and his friendship.
Finally, and to standing ovations, the award European Film was presented by Jeanne Moreau. As one of the “f****** wonderful whores who are in cinema”, she presented the award to the Romanian film 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS.
Other awards of the evening went to COEURS by Alain Resnais (critics award), ALUMBRAMIENTO by Eduardo Chapero-Jackson (short film), PAPER CANNOT WRAP UP EMBERS by Rithy Panh (documentary).