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‘Lenin’ storms the house at Berlin’s EFAs

German pic grabs top kudos, 3 people's choice awards

This article was updated at 8:27 p.m.

BERLIN — Wolfgang Becker’s blockbuster comedy “Good Bye, Lenin!” on Saturday dominated the European Film Awards, winning six top prizes.

Pic, about a young man’s efforts to hide German reunification from his just-out-of-a-coma mother, took honors for film, thesp (Daniel Bruehl) and screenplay (Bernd Lichtenberg). “Lenin” is also the first film to grab all three Jameson People’s Choice Awards: director, actor (Bruehl) and actress for Katrin Sass, who portrayed the mother.

“There are more than 300 million people in Europe, and for the academy to choose our film is something really special,” said producer Stefan Arndt.

Becker, who lost the director’s prize to Lars von Trier for his controversial “Dogville,” said it was the people’s choice award that mattered most to him.

“For Germans, the film was about our recent political history. Internationally, it was seen more as a story about a boy’s love for his mother,” Becker said, seeking to explain the pic’s cross-border success.

Bruehl, a West German, said, “The film was like a history lesson for me.”

“Good Bye, Lenin!” has garnered $46 million at the local box office and also swept this year’s German Film Awards. It is Germany’s contender for the foreign-language film Oscar.

Other winners included Charlotte Rampling, picking up actress kudos for her role as an uptight British mystery writer in Francois Ozon’s “Swimming Pool,” and Anthony Dod Mantle for his cinematography on both “28 Days Later” and “Dogville.” Ozon, who has been widely praised as an actress’s director, saw the female ensemble cast of his “8 Women” win in the category last year.

French director Claude Chabrol won this year’s lifetime achievement award. “It’s a lot for me,” he said. “I believe in European cinema. For the future of European cinema, we need international films.”

“The Barbarian Invasions,” from Canadian helmer Denys Arcand, beat “Finding Nemo,” “Mystic River” and “Kill Bill Vol. 1” for the Screen Intl. Award for a non-European film.

Reflecting the city of Berlin’s current economic hardship — the European Film Academy is partially financed by the German government — this year’s awards ceremony was decidedly low-key, but it also provided a comfortable and informal setting at the Arena, a former East Berlin bus depot that’s now a popular concert venue.

“Low-key is good,” quipped Dieter Kosslick, deputy chairman of the European Film Academy and head of the Berlin Intl. Film Festival. “It fits with the East German theme.”

The ceremony, held every other year in the German capital, will take place in Barcelona next year, with Warsaw the likely candidate to host the show in 2006.

And the winners are . . .

“Good Bye, Lenin!”Germany

Lars von Trier, “Dogville”

Daniel Bruehl, “Good Bye, Lenin!”

Charlotte Rampling, “Swimming Pool”

Bernd Lichtenberg, “Good Bye, Lenin!”

Anthony Dod Mantle, “28 Days,” “Dogville”

Carlo di Palma, cinematographer, Italy

Claude Chabrol, director, writer, actor producer, production designer, France

Wolfgang Becker, “Good Bye, Lenin!”

Daniel Bruehl, “Good Bye, Lenin!”

Katrin Sass, “Good Bye, Lenin!”

“The Barbarian Invasions” (Les Invasions Barbares), Denys Arcand, Canada

“The Return” (Vozvraschenie), Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia

“S21, The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine” (S21, La Machine de Mort Khmere Rouge), Rithy Panh, France

“(A) Torzija”, Stefan Arsenijevic, Slovenia

“Good Morning, Night” (Buongiorno, Notte), Marco Bellocchio, Italy

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