Spanish and German pictureswere the big winners at this weekend's European Film Awards in Barcelona,although Spain's national hero Pedro Almodovar walked away empty handed.
Hong Kong's Wong Kar-wai wason hand to receive the award for best non-European film with hissci-fi-retro-romance 2046 and in the process become the first two-timewinner of the Screen International-sponsored prize. He collected the same prizefour years ago with In The Mood For Love.
Germany's Fatih Akin was theevening's first and last prize winner. He kicked off the 17thedition of the event by collecting a public prize, the Jameson People's ChoiceAward for best European director with his Head On (Gegen Die Wand),a drama about an impossible mixed-race love affair. He rounded it off when HeadOn was crowned as the best European film of 2004.
Spain's local heroesreceived huge ovations every time they stepped on to the podium to presentawards or to receive them. One of the biggest cheers of the evening wasreserved for Javier Bardem who, with a certain inevitability, wasnamed best actor for his role as a bedridden paraplegic in The Sea Inside.The same film had earlier earned Alejandro Amenabar the EFA's best Europeandirector prize.
Although Almodovar appearedto glower when his Bad Education (La Mala Educacion) did not winthe best film award, a clutch of other odds-on favourites appeared on stage tocollect major awards. The UK's Imelda Staunton surprised nobody by picking upthe EFA for best actress with her astonishing performance in Vera Drake.France got a double helping with Agnes Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri winning withtheir Look At Me (Comme Une Image) winning for bestscreenplay and Bruno Coulais named as best composer for the ChristopheBarratier-directed The Choir (Les Choristes).
German and Spanish on-screentalent shared the remaining Jameson public prizes with Penelope Cruz named asbest actress for Don't Move (Non Ti Muovere) and Daniel Bruehl namedbest actor with Love In Thoughts (Was Nutzt Die Liebe In Gedanken).
The two-hour plus ceremony -followed by a dinner, which started at 11pm - in a huge arena normally used forconferences had some surreal touches. But it went off well without technicalhitches. And many of the obviously scripted jokes by presenters Maria DeMedeiros and Juanjo Puiscorbe raised chuckles. Efforts to speed up the ceremonyseem forever hampered by the multiple languages employed, the need fortranslations and efforts to accommodate minorities.
Political correctness andsticking to the subject decorum, however, were not total: one winner used theplatform to call for Turkey to be admitted into the European Union (EU),another asked for more EU support for cross-border film distribution and MariaGrazia Cucinotta spoke up for the World Food Programme. Greece's TheoAngelopoulos, picking up a FIPRESCI critics' award for The Weeping Meadowwas boorishly ungrateful. Speaking in French, he said: "I've won eight or nineof these. I'm getting used to it."
European Film Awards 2004
Best European Film
Head On (Gegen Die Wand) directed by Fatih Akin
Best European Actor
Javier Bardem for The Sea Inside (MarAdentro)
Best European Actress
Imelda Staunton for Vera Drake
Best European Director
Alejandro Amenabar for The Sea Inside (MarAdentro)
EFA Non-European Film 2004 - Prix Screen International
2046 directed by Wong Kar-wai
European Cinematographer 2004
Eduardo Serra for Girl With A PearlEarring
European Screenwriter 2004
Agnes Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri for LookAt Me (Comme Une Image)
EFA Discovery 2004 - Prix Fassbinder
Stolen Children (Certi Bambini) directed by Andrea and Antonio Frazzi
EFA Short Film 2004 - Prix UIP
I'll Wait For The Next One (J'Attendrai Le Suivant) directed byPhilippe Orreindy
EFA Documentary 2004
Darwin's Nightmare directed by Hubert Sauper
European Composer 2004
Bruno Coulais for The Choir (LesChoristes)
EFA Critics' Award - Prix FIPRESCI
Theo Angelopoulos for The Weeping Meadow
European Lifetime Achievement Award
European Achievement In World Cinema
Jameson People's Choice Awards
Best European Director: Fatih Akin for Head On
Best European Actor: Daniel Bruehl for Love In Thoughts (Was Nutzt Die Liebe In Gedanken)
Best European Actress: Penelope Cruz in Don't Move (Non Ti Muovere)