Polish 'Ida' Wins Big at European Film Awards

'Ida'

Timothy Spall and Marion Cotillard won the acting awards for 'Mr. Turner' and 'Two Days, One Night'

Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida, a stark black-and-white drama following a novitiate nun in 1960s Poland, has won best film at at the European Film Awards (EFA), Europe's top cinema honor.

It was Ida's night as Pawlikowski won the best director prize and shared the EFA best screenplay honor with his Ida co-screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz. Ida also won best cinematography for its twin lensers Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zai and even took the people's choice award, the only honor voted on by European cinemagoers.

"The people never choose us! We made a black-and-white movie with a camera that doesn't move," said an obviously surprised Pawlikowski. "I guess democracy is a good idea after all."

Oscar handicappers should take note. For the past two years, the winner of the best picture honor at the European Film Awards went on to win the Oscar for best foreign-language film. In 2014, that was Italy's The Great Beauty, following Austria's Amour the year before.

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Ida, which picked up a Golden Globe nomination in the foreign language category, is Poland's candidate for next year's Oscars and is already considered a frontrunner in that hard-to-predict category.

Veteran British actor Timothy Spall, who was snubbed by the Golden Globes, triumphed at the EFAs, winning best actor for his commanding performance as painter J.M.W. Turner in Mike Leigh's biopic Mr. Turner. Spall adds the trophy to his Cannes best actor honor for the same role. 

"Thank you — it is a real surprise. It's such a surprise, I wore my silly shoes tonight to cheer myself up," joked Spall in his acceptance speech. Spall said it was a "bizarre thing" to have artists compete, since it is like comparing "different pieces of fruit; it's a matter of taste. But speaking of a sort of old rotting London apple, I thank you from the bottom of my heart."

French star Marion Cotillard won best actress for her portrayal of a woman fighting to save her job in Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's Two Days, One Night.

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German director and president of the European Film Academy, Wim Wenders, opened this year's EFAs together with EFA chairwoman, Polish director Agnieszka Holland (In Darkness). The pair immediately struck a political note, calling for Russian president Vladimir Putin to release imprisoned director Oleg Sentsov. The Ukrainian filmmaker was arrested in Crimea earlier this year and is accused of being a member of a right-wing Ukrainian party the Russian government considers to be a terrorist organization. Sentsov, and the group itself, called Right Sector, deny that he was ever a member.

Wenders also acted as a presenter for the European Achievement in World Cinema honor, handing the trophy to 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen. McQueen won the EFA's European Discovery Award for his first feature, Hunger, back in 2008.

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French director Agnes Varda, a pioneer of the French New Wave, received this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She used the platform to call for the European Film Academy to give more support — and award nominations — to female directors.

Irish producer Ed Guiney, whose credits include The Guard and Frank, won the Prix Eurimages, the European co-production award, for his work.

The best European Comedy trophy went to The Mafia Only Kills in Summer, a Forrest Gump-style period comedy from Italian comedian Pierfrancesco “Pif” Diliberto. He dedicated his prize to the victims of the Mafia in his home country.

German filmmaker Marc Bauder won best documentary for Master of the Universe, a personal exposé of the dark side of world finance as told by a former high-flying investment banker. Italian director Alessandro Rak won best animated feature for his adult animated drama The Art of Happiness.

Ukrainian filmmaker Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy won the European Discovery award for his first film, The Tribe, a teen gang drama featuring a cast of deaf sign-language users. The Tribe debuted in Critics' Week in Cannes, where it won the section's grand prize. 

The EFA ceremony was hosted by German comedian Thomas Hermanns in front a black-tie crowd of European film professionals at the Latvian National Opera House in Riga, Latvia on Saturday, Dec. 13.

Here's the complete winners list.

EUROPEAN FILM
Ida (Poland)

EUROPEAN COMEDY

The Mafia Only Kills in the Summer (Italy)

EUROPEAN DIRECTOR

PaweĊ‚ Pawlikowski for Ida

EUROPEAN ACTRESS
Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night

EUROPEAN ACTOR

Timothy Spall for Mr. Turner

EUROPEAN DISCOVERY

Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy for The Tribe

EUROPEAN SCREENWRITER
Pawel Pawlikowski and Rebecca Lenkiewicz for Ida

EUROPEAN CINEMATOGRAPHY 

Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zai for Ida

EUROPEAN EDITOR

Justine Wright for Locke

YOUNG AUDIENCE AWARD

Regret! (Netherlands)

EUROPEAN DOCUMENTARY
Master of the Universe (Germany)

EUROPEAN ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
The Art of Happiness (Italy)

EUROPEAN PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD

Ida (Poland)

EUROPEAN COMPOSER

Miachu for Under the Skin

EUROPEAN SOUND DESIGN

Joakim Sundstrom for Starred Up

EUROPEAN PRODUCTION DESIGN

Claus Rudolf Amler for The Dark Valley

EUROPEAN COSTUME DESIGN

Natascha Curtius-Noss for The Dark Valley

EUROPEAN SHORT FILM
The Chicken (Germany, Croatia)

EUROPEAN ACHIEVEMENT IN WORLD CINEMA

Steve McQueen

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Agnes Varda

EUROPEAN CO-PRODUCTION AWARD

Ed Guiney

Twitter: @sroxborough

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