In Berlin’s Arena, a former bus depot at the bank of the Spree river, this year’s 18th European Film Awards had a big kitchen area at the entrance with members of the EFA Board cooking dinner for guests and voting EFA Members. The set was a dinner table, the host – German actor Heino Ferch – came running straight from the kitchen, and all presenters brought some home specialty for this big European smorgasbord, or potluck dinner.
A visual “tour d’Europe” introduced the nominated films in a geographical tour of the continent before the unlikely pair of EU Commissioner Viviane Reding and EFA Board Member Nikita Mikhalkov arrived to present the first award. Equipped with a large tin of Russian caviar, the director first repeated last year’s song about Catalonia, and then sang a Russian ballad about Berlin. The award, European Director 2005, went to Michael Haneke for HIDDEN.
Bringing a Polish vegetable salad and Mediterranean lobster, Italian actress Anna Galiena and her Polish colleague Zbigniew Zamachowski next presented the awards European Editor 2005 to Michael Hudecek & Nadine Muse (for HIDDEN) and European Production Designer 2005 to Aline Bonetto (for A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT).
A great highlight of the ceremony arrived in the form of the Flemish Radio Symphonic Orchestra under Dirk Brossé. On the occasion of the presentation of the award European Achievement in World Cinema 2005 to the legendary composer Maurice Jarre, the orchestra played the theme of his music to LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. EFA Board Members Volker Schlöndorff and Istvan Szabo, both of them connected to the maestro through mutual film projects, then presented the honorary award. To standing ovations, the Maurice Jarre admitted that he’s too touched to talk “in English, French, German, Italian or Hungarian.”
German actress Martina Gedeck and ARTE President Jérôme Clément (contributing real French truffles) next presented the documentary award to Nino Kirtadze for THE PIPELINE NEXT DOOR. In a mixture of Georgian, French, German and English, the director thanked the academy and said: “When I started filming in this small Georgian village with a French-Georgian-Irish-Polish crew… we would never have imagined that the film would be awarded like this.”
Swedish actress Lena Endre provided an entire Burbot fish and her Italian colleague Luca Zingaretti brought a dish of pasta. Together, they presented European Actress to an overwhelmed Julia Jentsch for SOPHIE SCHOLL, THE FINAL DAYS and European Actor to Daniel Auteuil for HIDDEN (the award was accepted by producer Margaret Menegoz).
After a chanson performance by actress and EFA founding member Hanna Schygulla, and again to standing ovations, Jean-Jacques Annaud presented the European Film Academy Lifetime Achievement Award to Sir Sean Connery who invited everybody to the Edinburgh festival: “Just ask for me and you’ll get a good seat.”
Internationally acclaimed film composers such as Dirk Brossé, Bruno Coulais, Frédéric Devreese, Alberto Iglesias, Stephen Warbeck, Gabriel Yared, and served as patrons, each of them introducing one of the six nominees for European Film 2005. The award goes to Michael Haneke for HIDDEN and this time the director is really touched: “Dankeschön, es kommt mir ein bißchen vor wie Weihnachten!” (It’s almost like Christmas)
Other awards went to DON’T COME KNOCKING (European Cinematographer: Franz Lustig), PARADISE NOW (European Screenwriter: Hany Abu-Assad & Bero Beyer), ACCUSED (EFA Discovery - Prix Fassbinder), UNDRESSING MY MOTHER (EFA Short Film – Prix UIP).