Other winners included Love Is All You Need, The Act of Killing, The Congress and The Broken Circle Breakdown.

Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty was the big winner at the 26th European Film Awards in Berlin, picking up four of the silver statuettes for European Film, European Director, European Actor for Toni Servillo, and European Editor for Cristiano Travaglioli.

The Great Beauty is Italy’s Oscar entry this year and had won the EurAsia Grand Prix at Tallinn’s Black Nights Film Festival a matter of days before the awards ceremony in Berlin.

Sorrentino could not personally accept the two awards as he is serving on the jury at the Marrakech Film festival, but producer Nicola Giuliano brought members of the cast and crew on stage to receive the audience’s applause.

Veteran Italian composer Ennio Morricone received the European Composer statuette for his score of Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Best Offer and was given a standing ovation which was also accorded to Pedro Almodóvar and Catherine Deneuve, honoured with the European Achievement In World Cinema and European Film Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award respectively.

Almodóvar attack

Belgian cinema – nominated in six categories with Felix van Groeningen’s The Broken Circle Breakdown – took home European Actress for Breakdown’s lead actress Veerle Baetens and European Short Film for Tom Van Avermaet’s Death of a Shadow,.

Spanish actors from Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited were out in force in Berlin to celebrate the director’s honourary award.

In his acceptance speech, Almodóvar attacked the “awful” cultural policy of the Spanish government “who are deaf and completely insensitive to the problems of my country”.

Criticism of their countries’ present cultural policy on cinema was also aired during the ceremony by the Portuguese director Ruben Alves (The Gilded Cage) and Italian producer Francesca Cima (The Great Beauty).

The Act of Killing

US-born, Denmark-based director Joshua Oppenheimer dedicated his European Documentary award for The Act Of Killing “to the anonymous Indonesian crew, including an anonymous co-director, who made this film with us and with whom this film could never have existed.

“They risked eight years of their lives making this film, knowing that, until there is major change in Indonesia, they could not put their names on it.

“I also dedicate it to the survivors who first told us their story and inspired us to make this film.”

As previously announced ahead of the ceremony, Romanian producer Ada Solomon was the winner of this year’s the European Co-Production Award – Prix Eurimages.

“This award is also for all of the co-producers and co-production initiatives where I grew up and met my partners,” said Solomon.

“First and foremost, it is for the people who have been sharing my dreams and believing in my dreams.”

“A new cinema is coming up and we have to to look forwards and not so much backwards.”

People’s Choice upset

An innovation this year was the introduction of a new prize category, European Comedy, which went to Susanne Bier’s romantic comedy Love Is All You Need.

But there was consternation among many of the 900 guests at the ceremony in the Haus der Berliner Festspiele that the Portuguese film The Gilded Cage had been voted as the winner of the People’s Choice Award for Best European Film.

Apparently, 40,000 votes had been cast after an international campaign with more than 20 media partners throughout Europe for the European cinema-goers’ favourite film from a list including Anna Karenina, Kon-Tiki and The Impossible.

Meanwhile, the European Discovery – Prix FIPRESCI went to the Berlin-set melancholic comedy Oh Boy by Jan Ole Gerster who has just returned from a three-month writer’s residence at the Villa Aurora in Los Angeles.

Agnieszka Holland elected

Ahead of the ceremony, the European Film Academy’s (EFA) managing director Marion Döring and president Wim Wenders announced there had been a major changing of the guard in the Academy’s board with the departure of six members:

  • Nik Powell, after 18 years service as chairman and deputy chairman;
  • Yves Marmion, EFA chairman for the past six years;
  • Volker Schlöndorff;
  • Bruno Chatelan;
  • Daniela Ciancio;
  • Laszlo Kantor

For the first time in the EFA’s history, the Berlin-based institution will now have a woman chairperson with the election of veteran Polish director Agnieszka Holland.

Döring told ScreenDaily that Holland is being joined on the board by Ada Solomon, Roberto Cicutto, Ilann Girard, David Mackenzie and Nadine Luque.

Showcase of European cinema

Another innovation this year saw 26 members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) collaborating for the first time on a Eurovision Film Week to show European films in the week leading up to the EFA awards on Dec 7.

The selection included:

  • Branko Schmidt’s drama Vegetarian Cannibal (Croatia)
  • Ayse Polat’s comedy Luk’s Luck (Germany)
  • Suren Babayan’s fantasy drama Don’t Look In The Mirror (Armenia)
  • Martin Koolhaven’s comedy Schnitzel Paradise (Netherlands)
  • Robert Quinn’s comedy Clay of the Graveyard (Ireland).

In addition, radio and television programmes were broadcast during the week featuring interviews with luminaries of European cinemas, behind-the-scenes reports, or debates on current issues such as the discussion about the ‘cultural exception’ by Belgium’s RTBF in its programme Cinquante degrés Nord.

Online festival of European cinema

The EFAs were also accompanied for the second year running by another MEDIA-supported initiative, EuroVOD’s European online film festival STREAMS, which runs until Dec 15.

Seven European VoD operators – flimmit (Austria), Universciné (France), leKino.ch (Switzerland), Volta (Ireland), Universcinè.be (Belgium), filmin (Spain), and Goodmovies (Germany) - were joined this year by Bulgaria’s netcinema.bg and Iceland’s Icelandic Cinema Online to give exclusive access to 17 recent European feature films and documentaries that haven’t yet premiered outside of their national territories.

The 2013 STREAMS lineup includes:

  • Pascal Benjamin’s Nice Guy
  • Pat Collins’ Tim Robinson: Connemara
  • Ed Moschitz’s Mama Illegal
  • Jan Georg Schütte’s Wack Him – A Family Party
  • Dragomir Sholev’s Shelter.

“Tickets” to stream films individually can be purchased for €2.99 or a festival pass for all 17 films is on sale for €19.90 at http://www.streamsfilmfestival.com/.

An innovation this year is the creation of an online jury of film-makers and bloggers from the nine countries, including Dublin-based online film critic Philip Bagnall (aka The Film Cynic), Icelandic exhibitor Ása Baldursdóttir, and Bulgarian blogger Dimitar Drinov (www.operationkino.net).

The jury will decide on the best film from this year’s selection for a cash prize of €3,500 to be announced on Dec 10.

EFAs 2014 winners

European Film
The Great Beauty, Paolo Sorrentino

European Comedy
Love Is All You Need, Susanne Bier

European Discovery – Prix Fipresci
Oh Boy, Jan Ole Gerster

European Documentary
The Act Of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer

European Animated Feature Film
The Congress, Ari Folman

European Short Film
Valladolid Short Film Nominee
Death Of A Shadow, Tom Van Avermaet

European Director
Paolo Sorrentino, The Great Beauty

European Actress
Veerle Baetens, The Broken Circle Breakdown

European Actor
Toni Servillo, The Great Beauty

European Screenwriter
François Ozon, In The House

European Cinematographer – Prix Carlo Di Palma
Asaf Sudry, Fill The Void

European Editor
Cristiano Travaglioli, The Great Beauty

European Production Designer
Sarah Greenwood, Anna Karenina

European Costume Designer
Paco Delgado, Blancanieves

European Composer
Ennio Morricone, The Best Offer

European Sound Designer
Matz Müller & Erik Mischijew, Paradise: Faith

European Film Academy Lifetime Achievement Award
Catherine Deneuve

European Achievement In World Cinema
Pedro Almodóvar

European Co-Production Award– Prix Eurimages
Ada Solomon

People’s Choice Award For Best European Film
The Gilded Cage