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Roman Polanski Is Big Winner At European Film Awards


It has been quite a year for director Roman Polanski… arrest in Switzerland, Silver Bear at the Berlinale, legal victory and return to his adopted home of Paris, and film adaptation of the international theatre sensation “God Of Carnage”. Now, Polanski caps a year full of ups and downs with a sixtuplet win at the European Film Awards, held this evening in the Nokia Concert Hall in the Estonian capital city of Tallinn. 


“The Ghost Writer”, Polanski’s adaptation of the Thomas Harris political thriller, was the big winner at the “European Oscars”, winning prizes for Best European Film, Best European Director (Roman Polanski), Best European Screenwriter (shared by novelist Thomas Harris, who adapted his best-selling novel, and Roman Polanski), Best European Composer (Alexandre Desplat), Best European Production Designer (Albrecht Konrad) and Best Actor (Ewan McGregor). Polanski, who did not travel to Tallinn, addressed the full house of attendees via SKYPE, thanking his crew and collaborators from the comfort of his home in Paris. “This film was a truly international effort, a mix of Polish, German, French and British collaborators”, he declared. "I share this with my wonderful crew.” 


While it was almost a runaway landslide for Polanski and company, there were other awards given to the outstanding European films and talents that made this a memorable year for the industry. The Prix D’Arte prize for Best European Documentary was won by Chilean director Patricio Guzman for his haunting French/German/Chilean co-production “Nostalgia For The Light” (Nostalgia de la luz). French animator Sylvain Chomet was presented with the European Film Academy Animated Feature prize for the visually thrilling “The Illusionist”, based on an unproduced script written by French icon Jacques Tati. The surprise winner of the People’s Choice Award For Best European Film was “Mr. Nobody”, an enchanting coming-of-age tale by Belgian writer/director Jaco van Dormael. The Polish film “Hanoi-Warsaw” by debut director Kataryzna Klimkiewicz was the choice in the European Film Academy Short Film competition. 


In the technical categories, the editing team of Luc Barnier and Marion Monnier won the Best European Editor prize for their kinetic work on the Olivier Assayas biopic “Carlos”. The Carlo Di Palma Cinematographer Award was given to Israeli director of photography Giora Bejach for his visceral work on the Israeli/French/German co-production  “Lebanon”. The film also won the Prix Fipresci/European Discovery prize for writer/director Samuel Maoz. Winning her first Best Actress accolade from the European Film Academy was French actress Sylvie Testud, for her intense portrayal of a crippled woman who is cured in “Lourdes”. 


Several industry professionals received honorary tributes at the event. The Prix Eurimages European Co-Production Award was given to Turkish producer Zeynep Ozbatur Atakan whose films (including a trilogy by celebrated director Nuri Bilge Ceylan) have been supported by Eurimages. The European Achievement In World Cinema prize was awarded to film composer Gabriel Yared, who has scored more than 30 films and was honored by French actress Juliette Binoche, who starred in “The English Patient”, one of four films that the celebrated composer collaborated with director Anthony Minghella. EFA President Wim Wenders offered an affectionate tribute to iconic Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, winner of the European Film Academy Lifetime Achievement Award. Ganz was visibly moved by the showing of clips from “Wings Of Desire”, “The American Friend”, “Bread And Tulips”, “Nosferatu”, “The Marquise Of O”, “Downfall” and other career highlights. 


The gala event was co-hosted by German comic actress Anke Engelke and Estonian actor and television host Mart Avandi. Awards presenters included actors Juliette Binoche, Maria de Madeiros, Hannelore Eisner, Nikolai Le Kas and Jean-Marc Barr. Several of the 2010 Shooting Stars were also on the stage as presenters, including Agata Buzek (Poland), Krystof Hadek (Czech Republic), Pihla Vitala (Finland), Edward Hogg (United Kingdom) and Michele Riondino (Italy). The ceremony also included intriguing tidbits of Estonian culture, including performances by the Estonian Television Girls Choir, a local rock-n-roll band and diverting video clips of reactions to the five nominated pictures for Best Film by ordinary members of the Estonian public.  

Androulla Vassiliou, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth for the European Union Media Programme announced that next year’s European Film Awards will return to Berlin and that in 2012, to celebrate the Awards’ 25th anniversary, the ceremonies will be held on the island nation of Malta.

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor


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