UK hit Billy Elliot sparked controversy at the European Film Forum of Strasbourg after it won the pan-European distribution support prize despite already being guaranteed a wide European release by powerhouse distributor UIP.
The UK entry's triumph was met with anger and surprise from rivals. One pointed out that, according to French minister of culture Catherine Tasca, the award is to "give the winning film a rare opportunity to enjoy distribution throughout the 15 member states of the European Union."
Billy Elliot was majority financed by Universal Pictures through the UK's Working Title Films and is handled in most international markets by UIP, the overseas distribution venture of Universal and Paramount Pictures.
Polish director Lech Majewski's Wojaczek won the top award of the Forum's State Of The Union competition. Vinko Bresan's Marshal Tito's Spirit, Croatia's official entry for the foreign-language Oscars, got a special mention.