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Paolo Sorrentino has repeated his feat from 2013, taking the European Film Award for best film, as well as directing honors for Youth, a typically luscious cinematic tribute to beauty and art from the Italian master. Sorrentino’s previous feature, The Great Beauty, won best European film honors at the 2013 EFAs en route to taking the Oscar for best foreign-language picture.
Michael Caine also won best actor for his starring role in Youth as an aging artist coping with getting old. It was his second trophy of the night. The two-time Oscar winner also received a lifetime achievement honor, the European Academy’s Honorary Award, from the EFA’s president and board.
“I’ve never received a European film prize before, and tonight I got two!” said the veteran British actor, who received standing ovations for both trophies. “I can’t say how honored I am.” Caine also got the biggest laugh of the night, after Youth won the best picture award. “Thank you for the work,” he said. “Next time, I’ll ask for more money.”
Charlotte Rampling also took home two European Film Awards: a best actress nod for her role in Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years, and a lifetime achievement award.
The EFA also celebrated Spectre star Christoph Waltz, giving the German-Austrian actor its achievement in world cinema honor. True Blood and Melancholia star Alexander Skarsgard presented Waltz with the prize.
“Thank you, I’m honored beyond comprehension,” two-time Oscar winner Waltz said, who credited “exactly 100 percent” of his career to luck.
The Fipresci Prize — Best European Discovery went to Mustang, from director Deniz Gamze Erguven. The pic follows five Turkish sisters who, like the wild horses of the title, fight for their independence against a repressive society that wants to tame them into traditional female roles. Mustang premiered at Cannes, where it won the Label Europa Cinema honor.
As the great and good of the film industry celebrated their achievements, the realities of European politics were never far away. The refugee crisis was a topic throughout the show, which opened with Charlie Chaplin’s famous speech from The Great Dictator calling for tolerance and inclusion for “Jew, Gentile, black man and white.”
EFA chairwoman and Polish helmer Agnieszka Holland spoke directly to the rising tide of right-wing populism in Europe and the push to throw up borders in and around the continent.
“I made a lot of movies about the dark times [in European history],” she said. “I don’t want them to return.”
In another very political overture, German actor Daniel Bruhl took the stage to read a letter of support for Oleg Sentsov, the Ukrainian director arrested and imprisoned in Russia for what many believe are trumped-up charges of terrorism. Since his arrest, the European Film Academy has been calling for Moscow to release Sentsov.
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, the conclusion to Swedish director Roy Andersson’s sardonic trilogy on the quiet absurdity of modern life, won the EFA for best European comedy.
The People’s Choice Award, voted on by European cinemagoers, went to Spanish thriller Marshland from director Alberto Rodríguez.
Amy, British director Asif Kapadia’s acclaimed documentary about late singer Amy Winehouse, won for best European documentary.
Song of the Sea, another tale of Irish folklore from Oscar-nominated director Tomm Moore (The Secret of Kells), took home the prize for best European animated film.
Best European short film honors went to Croatian drama Picnic from helmer Jure Pavlovic.
In the technical awards, which were announced earlier, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s Austrian horror film Goodnight Mommy picked up the best cinematography award for cameraman Martin Gschlacht, while Peter Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy earned best composer honors for Faris Badwan and Rachel Zeffira.
Jacek Drosio scored the best editor nod for his work on Body from Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska; best costume design went to Sarah Blenkinsop for The Lobster; Sylvie Olive won best production design for her work on The Brand New Testament from Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael; and sound-design honors went to Vasco Pimentel and Miguel Martins for their work on Miguel Gomes’s ambitious Portuguese trilogy Arabian Nights: Volume 1-3.
Andrea Occhipinti, the Italian producer of such films as Il Divo and Grace of Monaco, received the EFA’s co-production award.
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