Hot French zombie series The Returned won best drama at the 41st International Emmy Awards, held Monday night in New York.
Sean Bean of Game of Thrones received what he said was his first-ever award, the best actor honor for playing a cross-dresser accused of murder in the Brit crime drama Accused. Chris O’Dowd and the creators of Irish series Moone Boy won best comedy series, while Australian refugee reality series Go Back to Where You Come From won the International Emmy for best non-scripted series.
While previous International Emmys have been dominated by British TV, this year’s awards were a truly global affair. Brazil’s TV Globo took two top honors — the best actress prize for Fernanda Montenegro‘s starring role in drama Sweet Mother and best telenovela for Side By Side; 5 Broken Cameras, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi‘s look at the occupation of the West Bank, won best documentary (with Burnat accepting as “the first Palestinian to win an Emmy”); and German real-life drama A Day for a Miracle from Cologne-based production company Rowboat won the Emmy for best TV Movie/Mini-Series.
The Daily Show‘s resident Brit John Oliver hosted the awards, quipping that it was appropriate to honor the best in international television as everything on American TV these days are “adaptations of English shows, adaptations of Israeli shows or adaptations of English versions of Israeli shows.”
Celeb presenters included Boardwalk Empire star Michael K. Williams, who handed over the best drama Emmy to The Returned (which airs on the Sundance Channel stateside), Homeland‘s Sarita Choudhury and veteran comedic actor Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development). Other honorees included best arts programming winner — a tie between Rhys Thomas‘ Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender, a Brit TV documentary about the late Queen frontman, and Hello?! Orchestra, a music doc from South Korean network MBC about a group of ordinary kids brought together to form a classical orchestra.
Special awards included an International Directorate honor for Anke Schaferkordt, co-CEO of leading European broadcaster RTL Group, presented by heavyweight champion boxer Wladimir Klitschko (Schaferkordt is a big boxing fan and RTL carries Klitschko’s fights), as well as the International Emmy Founders honor for director-writer-producer J.J. Abrams. Star Trek Into Darkness star Zachary Quinto, currently appearing on Broadway in A Glass Menagerie, presented Abrams with his award.
The man himself paid tribute to all the casts and crews he has worked with throughout the years as well as his wife, Katie McGrath, and his father, TV executive Gerald W. Abrams. J.J. Abrams joked that his father must have threatened his longtime friend Bruce Paisner, International Emmy President, to pressure Paisner into giving Abrams the honor.