UPDATE: Pawlikowski is only third Polish director to win EFA’s top prize; Steve McQueen pays tribute to Jean Vigo; Ukrainian diector Oleg Sentsov gets an empty seat at the awards in Riga.
Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida was the big winner at this year’s European Film Awards in Riga, picking up five awards, including the top honour of European Film 2014 as well as the People’s Choice Award
“It’s been a fantastic night for us and a great night for Poland,” Pawlikowski said as he went up onto the stage of Latvia’s National Opera House for the fourth time on Saturday evening (December 13).
Earlier, when receiving the European Director 2014 trophy, the UK-based director explained that two of the film-makers competing for this honour — Turkey’s Nure Bilge Ceylan and Russia’s Andrey Zvyagintsev — are his favourite directors working today. “Thank you for being losers — this time,” he quipped.
This is the third time that a Polish director has won the top prize at the European Film Awards: the late Krzysztof Kieslowski triumphed with A Short Film About Killing at the first edition of the Film Awards in Berlin back in 1988, while Roman Polanski’s Ghost Writer picked up a record - and still unbeaten - six awards in 2010.
A jubilant Polish presence ranging from the new Polish culture minister Malgorzata Omilanowska through Gutek Film’s Roman Gutek, film-makers Tomasz Wasilewski, Maciej Karpinski, Jerzy Kapuscinski and Krzysztof Zanussi, and actor Andrzej Chyra celebrated with the Ida team into the early hours
“If it was not for this institution in Poland, our films would not be where they are now,” Ida producer Ewa Puszczynska said of the Polish Film Institute and its CEO Agnieszka Odorowicz, whose term of office comes to an end next year.
”Ida is about many things,” added producer Eric Abraham, whose Portobello Pictures has also handled international sales for the film.
“It is about cross-generation Holocaust trauma, it is about loss of family, loss of identity, loss of memory. On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the end of Auschwitz, and at a time when, sadly, anti-Semitism is again commonplace in Europe, I’d like to dedicate this award to the children and grandchildren of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.”
Ironically, Ida’s success in Riga coincided with an important day in recent Polish history when martial law was announced in a televised address by General Wojciech Jaruselski on December 13, 1981.
While the Poles were naturally at the focus of all the excitement during Saturday’s ceremony, the Danish also had reasons to celebrate since Copenhagen-based Phoenix Film served as a co-producer on the film and financial support came from the Danish Film Institute.
Ida’s triumph also gives the Polish film community further impetus for their preparations of the European Film Awards in Wroclaw on December 3, 2016, at the end of that city’s European Capital Of Culture celebrations. It remains to be seen what this choice of date will mean for Tallinn’s Black Nights International Film Festival.
Film-makers from the UK took home five awards: Mica Levi was named European Composer for his score for Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin, while Joakim Sundström received the nod for European Sound Designer for Starred Up and Justine Wright received the European Editor statuette for her work on Locke.
Meanwhile, Timothy Spall followed his best actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival for the portrayal of William Turner in Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner by also taking the European Actor trophy in Riga.
Speaking in his capacity as “an old rotting London apple”, Spall remarked that awards and competitions between artists are “like a great big basket of fruit: you can’t really compare a banana to a pineapple, or an apple to an orange. It’s all about the taste. Sometimes, it’s about taste - or just luck.”
Director Steve McQueen received the European Achievement in World Cinema Award from the hands of European Film Academy (EFA) president Wim Wenders.
“I think artists have a responsibility not just to entertain, but to try and push forward the idea of humanity, the idea that we are all one,” McQueen declared, adding that he wanted to dedicate his award to the French film-maker Jean Vigo.
He explained that he had ended his relationship with Vigo on Friday (December 12) after seeing the director’s 1931 short Taris about the Olympic swimming champion Jean Taris.
“I had held off seeing that film for 25 years,” McQueen said. “I did not want my relationship with him to die, but perhaps because I was coming here or editing a new film, I thought now was the time to complete that circle for a man, an anarchist, a realist, and a lover of life.”
In addition, Italian film-makers were recognised for European Animated Feature Film (The Art Of Happiness) and European Comedy (The Mafia Only Kills In Summer), and Germany’s Marc Bauder was voted by the EFA membership as the winner of the European Documentary 2014 prize for his mesmerising Master Of The Universe.
Moreover, Germany’s Robert Bosch Foundation was thanked by Croatian film-maker Una Gunjak for its support of her award-winning short The Chicken.
Ukraine and Russia
At the beginning of the ceremony, Wenders and EFA chairwoman Agnieszka Holland came on stage to welcome the audience in Riga’s National Opera House and the nearby Splendid Palace Cinema.
“It is high time that we working in culture and in cinema remember our responsibilities and raise our voices,” Wenders said, making particular reference to the fate of the Ukrainian diector Oleg Sentsov, who has been held by the Russian authorities in custody in a prison near Moscow since last May awaiting a trial to answer the charge of alleged terrorist activities.
A seat in the Opera House was symbolically kept free for Sentsov during the ceremony, and fellow Ukrainian director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy dedicated his European Discovery - Prix FIPRESCI for The Tribe to Sentsov and the deaf community.
Although there was a warm reception from the Opera House audience for Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan and its lead actor Alexey Serebryakov, there was no way of ignoring the anti-Russian jibes directed at the Putin administration by the evening’s master of ceremonies, Thomas Hermanns, the self-declared “openly gay German comedian.”
Apart from donning pink legwarmers for a dance routine with hunky Swedish actor Johannes Kuhnke (Force Majeure) to the 80s disco hit Maniac from Flashdance, Hermanns remarked that he was glad that he was on the Western side of the Russian-Latvian border.
A full list of winners from the 2014 European Film Awards winners:
EUROPEAN FILM 2014
DIRECTED BY: Paweł Pawlikowski
WRITTEN BY: Paweł Pawlikowski & Rebecca Lenkiewicz
PRODUCED BY: Eric Abraham, Piotr Dzięcioł & Ewa Puszczyńska
EUROPEAN COMEDY 2014
THE MAFIA ONLY KILLS IN SUMMER (LA MAFIA UCCIDE SOLO D’ESTATE) by Pierfrancesco Diliberto
EUROPEAN DISCOVERY 2014 - Prix FIPRESCI
THE TRIBE (PLEMYA) by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy
EUROPEAN DOCUMENTARY 2014
MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE by Marc Bauder
EUROPEAN ANIMATED FEATURE FILM 2014
THE ART OF HAPPINESS (L’ARTE DELLA FELICITÁ) by Alessandro Rak
EUROPEAN SHORT FILM 2014
THE CHICKEN by Una Gunjak
EUROPEAN DIRECTOR 2014
Paweł Pawlikowski for IDA
EUROPEAN ACTRESS 2014
Marion Cotillard in TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (DEUX JOURS, UNE NUIT)
EUROPEAN ACTOR 2014
Timothy Spall in MR. TURNER
EUROPEAN SCREENWRITER 2014
Paweł Pawlikowski & Rebecca Lenkiewicz for IDA
EUROPEAN CINEMATOGRAPHER 2014 - Prix CARLO DI PALMA
Łukasz Żal & Ryszard Lenczewski for IDA
EUROPEAN EDITOR 2014
Justine Wright for LOCKE
EUROPEAN PRODUCTION DESIGNER 2014
Claus-Rudolf Amler for THE DARK VALLEY (DAS FINSTERE TAL)
EUROPEAN COSTUME DESIGNER 2014
Natascha Curtius-Noss for THE DARK VALLEY (DAS FINSTERE TAL)
EUROPEAN COMPOSER 2014
Mica Levi for UNDER THE SKIN
EUROPEAN SOUND DESIGNER 2014
Joakim Sundström for STARRED UP
EUROPEAN FILM ACADEMY LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD 2014
EUROPEAN ACHIEVEMENT IN WORLD CINEMA 2014
EUROPEAN CO-PRODUCTION AWARD 2014 - Prix EURIMAGES
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD 2014 for Best European Film
IDA by Paweł Pawlikowski.