'Others' tops all others at EFA awards

4:00 AM PST 12/04/2006 by Nick Holdsworth, AP

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LONDON -- Europe's top directors, producers and other leading professionals voted "The Lives of Others" (Das Leben der Anderen), from German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, the continent's film of the year Saturday at the 19th European Film Academy awards in Warsaw, Poland.

Announced at a gala ceremony at Warsaw's Expo XXI center after voting by all 1,700 members of the EFA, "Others" beat five other nominees from both established and debut European directors to win the coveted title European Film of 2006.

Henckel von Donnersmarck also won the prize for best screenwriter, and "Others' " Ulrich Muhe took best actor.

While Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's "Volver" didn't claim the top prize, it scored five wins, including best director for Almodovar and best actress for Penelope Cruz.

The multiple wins for "Others" and "Volver," both of which are being distributed domestically by Sony Pictures Classics, should give a boost to the films' Oscar prospects. SPC is promoting both films in the foreign language film category and also has hopes that "Volver" could figure in the best picture and other races.

It was the first time the awards ceremony had been held in Eastern Europe, and a broadcast of the event -- produced in cooperation with Polish broadcaster POLSAT, German pubcaster ZDF and European culture channel ARTE -- was scheduled to be transmitted to an "unprecedented" 50 territories worldwide, the EFA said.

In addition to "Others" and "Volver," the other titles nominated for best European film included Irish director Neil Jordan's "Breakfast on Pluto"; British entries "The Road to Guantanamo," from Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross, and Ken Loach's "The Wind That Shakes the Barley"; and Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic's debut, "Grbavica."

Spanish-born Cruz took the actress nod for her role in "Volver," a film that also picked up European composer of the year for Alberto Iglesias. The film also took the People's Choice Award as best European film of the year in an audience poll.

The cinematography award was shared by Barry Ackroyd ("Barley") and Jose Luis Alcaine ("Volver").

Also, "13 (Tzameti)," by French director Gela Babluani, was voted European Discovery of 2006, while the EFA's award for artistic contribution went to Pierre Pell and Stephane Rozenbaum for production design in Michel Gondry's French-Italian co-production "The Science of Sleep."

The EFA's short film prize went to "Before Dawn," by Hungarian director Balint Kenyeres, and the documentary award to Philip Groning's German-Swiss film "Die Grosse Stille" (Into Great Silence).

The EFA critics award, the Prix Fipresci, went to French director Philippe Garrel's "Les amants reguliers" (Regular Lovers).

Polish-born director Roman Polanski received a lifetime achievement award during the ceremony, which also was attended by British producer Jeremy Thomas, who was honored in the European Achievement in World Cinema category for his career in films that include Nagisa Oshima's "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence" (1983) and this year's "Fast Food Nation," directed by Richard Linklater.
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