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Danish director Susanne Bier, an Oscar and Golden Globe winner for In a Better World (2010), and Emmy winner for 2016 miniseries The Night Manager, will receive the 2021 European Achievement in World Cinema Award, the European Film Academy’s lifetime honor.
Bier is the first female director to win an Oscar, a Golden Globe, an Emmy and a European Film Award (In a Better World won the best European Film honor in 2010, Love Is All You Need was named the best European Comedy in 2013).
The Danish helmer has been a major figure on the European cinema scene since her feature debut, Freud Leaving Home, which won the Dragon Award at Sweden’s Gothenburg film festival in 1991 and earned Danish actress Ghita Norby the best-supporting actress prize at the European Film Awards in 1992.
International acclaim came with her melodramas Open Hearts (2002), Brothers (2004) and After the Wedding (2006), all of which were art house crossover hits. After the Wedding, starring Mads Mikkelsen, was nominated for an Oscar, putting Bier on Hollywood’s radar. Her follow-up was the 2007 film Things We Lost in the Fire, her English-language debut, starring Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro.
But it was Bier’s next Danish movie, In a Better World, that really got her noticed in Hollywood. The story of two Danish families who see their children drifting toward violence, was a critical and commercial success, grossing more than $13 million worldwide and racking up awards, including the 2012 Academy Award for best international feature, then called the best foreign-language Oscar.
In 2016, Bier directed her first TV series, the John le Carré adaptation The Night Manager, which won a Primetime Emmy for best director of a limited series. Her small-screen follow-up, the Netflix horror film Bird Box starring Sandra Bullock, was a breakout success and still ranks as the second most-viewed Netflix original movie of all time. The film, however, also attracted controversy for its use of footage of a real-life train disaster — a 2013 tragedy in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic — in its fictional tale of postapocalyptic survival.
More recently, Bier directed the HBO miniseries The Undoing starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. She is currently filming Showtime’s The First Lady, a drama series chronicling the lives of American first ladies, starring Viola Davis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Gillian Anderson. Bier will direct the entire first season of the show, which is set to air in 2022.
Bier will receive her European Achievement in World Cinema Award at the 34th European Film Awards ceremony in Berlin on Dec. 11.
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