Most of the award recipients were voted for by the more than 4,200 members of the European Film Academy, all of them established film professionals, and were only revealed during the ceremony. But some of the lucky winners had already been announced throughout preceding months. The award for European Lifetime Achievement was given to the legendary Hungarian filmmaker Márta Mészáros who accepted the award in her house in Budapest. The Award for European Achievement in World Cinema 2021 went to Danish helmer Susanne Bier who was one of the evening’s on-site guests, and visibly touched by the honour. She was joined by the prolific British director Steve McQueen who received the Award for European Innovative Storytelling 2021 for SMALL AXE, his ground-breaking mini-series about the UK’s West-Indian community.
A range of Berlin-based international presenters joined them and further award recipients for the ceremony, among them actresses Halldóra Geirhardsdottir and Katja Riemann and their male colleagues Ncuti Gatwa, Marwan Kenzari, Oliver Musucci and Clemens Schick as well as Germany's new Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Claudia Roth. Representing the European Film Academy live in the studio were Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland, President of the Academy, Irish producer Mike Downey OBE, Chairman of the Board, and the Academy’s new Director, Matthijs Wouter Knol.
New this year was the involvement of European audiences in the Award Ceremony: in different parts of Europe, from the very south to the very north, from young to more seasoned, film-lovers had watched the nominated films and told us what they feel and think.