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European Film Awards loves ‘Amour’

Haneke's Palme d'Or winner takes top prize, three other kudos at Malta ceremony

MALTA — Michael Haneke’s “Amour” conquered all at the European Film Awards, which celebrated its 25th anniversary Saturday on the Mediterranean island of Malta.

“Amour,” which won Cannes’ Palme d’Or and is Austria’s entry in the Oscar’s foreign-language film category, took four EFAs: helmer, actor for Jean-Louis Trintignant, and actress for Emmanuelle Riva. The film, which centers on an elderly music teacher who cares for his wife after she suffers two strokes, is released in the U.S. by Sony Pictures Classics on Dec. 19.

The scripter’s award went to Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg for “The Hunt.”

“Shame” took the prizes for cinematographer (Sean Bobbitt) and editor (Joe Walker), and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” took kudos for production designer (Maria Djurkovic) and composer (Alberto Iglesias).

The Achievement in World Cinema award went to Helen Mirren, who said she had been inspired to become an actress after watching Michelangelo Antonioni’s “L’Avventura” as a teenager. “It was such a revelation to realize what film could be. It absolutely transformed the landscape of what was possible in film for me,” she said. “From that moment on, I’ve always loved, sought out and wanted to be in anything that seemed to me like a European film.”

The lifetime achievement award went to Italian helmer Bernardo Bertolucci, who won the jury prize at the first ever European Film Awards in 1988 for “The Last Emperor.” “Long live European cinema!,” he declared as he received the lifetime achievement award. Bertolucci, who was brought to the stage in a wheelchair, then joked: “Maybe this is the beginning of ‘The Intouchables 2.’ ”

In his opening speech, Wim Wenders, the prexy of the European Film Academy, had said that as well as the economic crisis, Europe was suffering from an identity crisis, and that cinema could help with that. “Our cinema can feed the European soul,” he said.

Both on stage and in taped contributions, a succession of European filmmakers, such as Ken Loach, portrayed Hollywood films as being like “junk food,” in comparison with the supposedly more wholesome European variety.

Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura, who gave the best film award to Haneke, said: “The avant garde must never surrender.”

Other prizes included the docu prize for Manuel von Sturler’s “Winter Nomads,” and the animation award for Tomas Lunak’s “Alois Nebel.” The prize for up-and-coming filmmaker, the Discovery Award, went to Boudewijn Koole’s “Kauwboy,” which is the Netherlands’ Oscar entry in the foreign-language category.

Geoffrey Enthoven’s “Come as You Are” took the People’s Choice Award, which was voted for by the public. All the other awards were voted for by the 2,700 members of the European Film Academy.

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