German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s “The Lives of Others” was named best pic at the 19th European Film Awards in Warsaw on Saturday, but it was Pedro Almodovar’s “Volver” that took most of the top honors, including director.
A gripping Cold War tale set in 1980s East Berlin, Henckel von Donnersmarck’s debut feature focuses on an officer of the secret police, his surveillance of a playwright and his actress-lover and the impact that spying has on the couple.
Pic beat “Volver”; Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or winner “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”; “The Road to Guantanamo,” by Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross; Neil Jordan’s “Breakfast on Pluto”; and “Grbavica,” by Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic.
Henckel von Donnersmarck also won in the screenwriter category, while Ulrich Muehe took the actor prize for his perf as the Stasi agent in the pic.
But it was “Volver” that generated the most enchantment with its tale of family and the hereafter: In addition to helming honors, pic nabbed the actress prize for Penelope Cruz, the people’s choice award and kudos for cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine — a win shared with Barry Ackroyd for “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” — and composer Alberto Iglesias.
“Into Great Silence,” Philip Groening’s hit about Carthusian monks living an austere existence in their Great Charterhouse in the French Alps, took the docu nod.
The European Discovery prize went to French-Georgian co-production “13 Tzameti,” from director Gela Babluani.
Roman Polanski was on hand to collect a lifetime achievement award, as was Brit producer Jeremy Thomas, who received the achievement in world cinema award for his body of work.
Actress Sophie Marceau and Polish actor Maciej Stuhr hosted the awards ceremony, held for the first time in an Eastern European city.
A continental, highbrow version of the Oscars, the European Film Awards show will be broadcast throughout December in nearly 60 countries across Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.
19th EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS
Film: “The Lives of Others,” Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (Germany)
Director: Pedro Almodovar, “Volver” (Spain)
Actress: Penelope Cruz, “Volver” (Spain)
Actor: Ulrich Muehe, “The Lives of Others” (Germany)
Screenwriter: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, “The Lives of Others” (Germany)
Cinematographer: Barry Ackroyd, “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” (UK/Ireland/Germany/Italy/Spain), Jose Luis Alcaine, “Volver” (Spain)
Composer: Alberto Iglesias, “Volver” (Spain)
Discover: “13 Tzameti,” Gela Babluani (France/Georgia)
Film Academy Award for Artistic Contribution: Pierre Pell & Stephane Rozenbaum for the production design in “The Science of Sleep” (France/Italy)
Film Academy Lifetie Achievement Awards: Roman Polanski
Achievement in World Cinema: Jeremy Thomas
Film Academy Critics Award – Prix Fipresci: “Regular Lovers,” Philippe Garrel (France)
FIlm Academy Documentary- Prix Arte: “Into Great Silence,” Philip Groening (Germany/Switzerland)
Short Film – Prix UIP: “Before Dawn,” Balint Kenyeres (Hungary)
The People’s Choice Award for Best European Film: “Volver,” Pedro Almodovar (Spain)