'White Ribbon' tops European film nods

Michael Haneke's feature wins best film, director

BOCHUM, Germany -- "The White Ribbon," Michael Haneke's powerful depiction of a German village on the eve of World War I, conquered the 2009 European Film Awards, beating out Oscar champ "Slumdog Millionaire" to win the top trophies in the best film and director categories.

"I'm stunned. I'm overwhelmed," Haneke said as he hoisted his best film trophy, adding that the film was "truly an European production" as it featured funding and production teams from four countries -- Germany, Austria, France and Italy.

Haneke also won the European wcreenwriter nod for his disturbing script to "The White Ribbon," which traces the roots of fascism in the oppressive religious and civil society of Germany in 1913.

"Slumdog Millionaire" didn't go away empty-handed, picking up the EFA's people choice award as well as the European cinematographer prize for cameraman Anthony Dod Mantle, who was also honored for his lensing of Lars von Trier's shocker "Antichrist."

Kate Winslet added a European Film Award to her Oscar and BAFTA, winning the European actress prize for her starring role in Stephen Daldry's "The Reader."

French newcomer Tahar Rahim won the European actor nod for his performance in Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet" as a young Arab man sent to prison who rises to become a mafia boss. "A Prophet" also won the Prix d'Excellence for its innovative sound design.
This year's European Film Awards could be accused of slumming it this year. Instead of their usual locale of one of Europe's glamour capitals, the 2009 EFAs were held in the German industrial town of Bochum in the heart of the country's rust belt, the Ruhr region.

"The Ruhr region. Occupied by the French, bombed by the British, rebuilt by Polish guest workers. That's Europe!" joked the host, German comedian Anke Engelke. The EFA ceremony reflected the town's working-class origins, with winners framed by the factory girders of Bochum's Century Hall -- a former factory -- and U.K. industrial band Bauhaus providing the show's soundtrack.

The European Discovery Award, for best first feature film, went to Peter Strickland for his Transylvanian-set thriller "Katalin Varga." "Mia and the Migoo" from French director Jacques-Remy Girerd won the European animated feature film prize, while the documentary nod went to the Peter Liechti's experimental doc "The Sound of Insects -- Record of a Mummy."

Two legends in European cinema -- French Actress Isabelle Huppert and English director Ken Loach -- both received lifetime achievement awards and glowing accolades, from Oscar-winning director Volker Schlondorff and soccer champ-turned-actor Eric Cantona, respectively.

Loach got one of the biggest cheers of the night when he called on European politicians to intervene to ensure European films get seen in European cinemas.

"The sad fact is that most of the films tonight will not be seen in large areas in Europe. That's certainly true in my country that unless you live near an art-house cinema. Maybe we should look to the Americans for a solution. Because I seem to remember the American politicians intervening in free market to protect their steel and their agriculture so why can't our politicians do the same to protect our cinema?"

A complete list 2009 European Film Awards winners is on the next page.

2009 European Film Awards winners

European Film 2009
"The White Ribbon" dir. Michael Haneke

European Director 2009
Michael Haneke for "The White Ribbon"

European Actor 2009
Tahar Rahim in "A Prophet"

European Actress 2009
Kate Winslet in "The Reader"

European Screenwriter 2009
Michael Haneke for "The White Ribbon

Carlo Di Palma European Cinematographer Award 2009
Anthony Dod Mantle for "Antichrist" and "Slumdog Millionaire"

European Film Academy Prix D'Excellence 2009
Brigitte Taillandier, Francis Wargnier, Jean-Paul Hurier and Marc Doisne for sound design in "A Prophet"

European Composer 2009
Alberto Iglesias for "Broken Embraces"

European Documentary -- Prix ARTE 2009

"The Sound of Insects -- Record of a Mummy" dir. Peter Liechti

European Animated Feature Film 2009
"Mia and the Migoo" dir. Jacques-Remy Girerd

European Film Academy Discovery 2009
"Katalin Varga" dir. Peter Strickland

European People's Choice Award 2009
"Slumdog Millionaire" dir. Danny Boyle

European Co-Production Award, the Prix Eurimages
Producers Diana Elbaum and Jani Thiltges

Prix FIPRESCI 2009, European film critics award
Sweet Rush" from Andrezej Wajda

European Short Film 2009
"Poste Restante" dir. Marcel Lozinski

Lifetime Achievement Awards
U.K. Director Ken Loach
French Actress Isabelle Huppert