The European Film Awards 2013
Posted on Monday December 9, 2013, 15:21 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
The European Film Awards kicked off on Saturday with a goodie bag that included chocolate biscuits, some gummy bears, a CD DJ mix sponsored by sparkling vodka and an umbrella with a torch on the end. In its marvellous chaos, it reflects something of the randomness of the evening itself; unlike the Oscars, there isn't really any campaigning network, so lesser known films such as Belgium's The Broken Circle Breakdown stood a very real chance of challenging such established Cannes hits as The Great Beauty and Blue Is The Warmest Colour, competing under its original French (and much more explanatory) title La Vie D'Adele, Chapitres 1 & 2.
All eyes were on Abdellatif Kechiche's Palme D'Or winner to take the main prize, which instead went to Paulo Sorrentino for The Great Beauty, a win accompanied by major prizes for Sorrentino as director and his regular leading man Toni Servillo. Industry gossip suggested that Kechiche's film was a late entry to the EFAs and suffered fewer votes as a result, but even so, Sorrentino has quietly amassed a growing band of supporters over the last decade, since 2004's The Consequences Of Love. This win cements his status as a major European director, and was seen by some as a common-sense corrective to the media hype that accompanied Kechiche's film.
In a new move, the EFA's introduced a fresh category this year, European Comedy, which was announced on stage by Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick. The phrase “you had to be there” was made for moments like this, as Kosslick, intoxicated by his own spectacular unfunniness, began a string of jokes that wouldn't have been any more amusing if he hadn't mangled the punchlines. The shortlist was not very inspiring, summed up by Almodovar's so-so I'm So Excited!, and the fact that the winner was Susanne Bier's Love Is All You Need – a light romcom quite accurately described as Mamma Mia! without the songs – points to a current comedy drought all over Europe.
Other awards were a mix of ancient and modern; François Ozon won a scriptwriting prize for In The House just as his new film Jeune Et Jolie opens up in the UK. German favourite Oh Boy, a kind of male Frances Ha, made a big impact, and in an award that likely didn't have any other options, Ennio Morricone was rewarded for his soundtrack to Giuseppe Tornatore's The Best Offer (no, I haven't seen it either). Meanwhile, crowning a magnificent 12-month run, Joshua Oppenheimer took a well-deserved Documentary prize for his jaw-dropping film The Act Of Killing. Recently fêted as the best film of 2013 by Sight & Sound, as well as being a glaring omission from my own top ten (I saw it last year), Oppenheimer's astonishing film is definitely a must-see, certainly the best of the recent spate of “hybrid” docs that weave fact and fiction to tell their stories.
Star-wise, the event was quite muted, which was perhaps just as well, as it allowed the two special guests to shine even more brightly. First up was Pedro Almodóvar, who arrived with an entourage that included the fabulous Rossy De Palma and Javier Cámara, who sang a dreadful but touching version of the Pointer Sisters song that gives I'm So Excited its UK title. Almodóvar gave a shortish speech that paid tribute to his mother and the women of La Mancha, before adding a political flavour with an attack on Spain's current government and its austerity measures. Unsurprisingly, this was a common topic in many speeches, from countries all over Europe.
Finally, the undisputed Ron Burgundy-sized big deal of the night was the presence of Catherine Deneuve, eulogised by EFA president Wim Wenders in a speech that arguably made too much mention of the impact Deneuve made on him when he was young – a situation that could have been exacerbated by a dance routine inspired by The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, which turns 50 next year. Happily, Ms Deneuve didn't seem too offended by this dwelling on her longevity (she's still only 70!) and showed some gracious cracks in her famous hauteur as she accepted the award.
Afterwards, we all retired to the Concorde Hotel to drown our sorrows with the Bayona brothers, who were on hand to give a speech for Naomi Watts, in case she won Best Actress for The Impossible. Despite the free booze, it seemed quite a low-key affair until a sudden flurry of excitement focused everyone's eyes on the Jägermeister photo booth. Almodóvar went in with Noomi Rapace and suddenly it was party central; informal conversations ensued with Camara and De Palma, Oppenheimer and his partner. Best image of the night, however, goes to the lovely and talented Carice Van Houten, who performed a rather good, Aimee Mann-style song from her album See You On The Ice. Tiring of her designer shoes, Van Houten kicked them off and put on a pair of Lufthansa flip-flops that quite magnificently matched her outfit. It was a very EFA moment...
THE AWARDS HIGHLIGHTS
The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, Italy/France)
Love Is All You Need (Susanne Bier, Denmark)
EUROPEAN DISCOVERY (FIPRESCI PRIZE)
Oh Boy (Jan Ole Gerster, Germany)
The Act Of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark/Norway/UK)
EUROPEAN ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
The Congress (Ari Folman, Israel/Germany/Poland/Luxembourg/France/Belgium)
Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty)
Veerle Baetens (The Broken Circle Breakdown)
Toni Servillo (The Great Beauty)
François Ozon (In The House)
Ennio Morricone (The Best Offer)
EUROPEAN FILM ACADEMY LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
EUROPEAN ACHIEVEMENT IN WORLD CINEMA