Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann’ swept five awards, including film, director and screenwriter at the 29th European Film Awards during a ceremony held in Wroclaw, Poland.
“Toni Erdmann” also won best actress for Sandra Hüller and best actor for Peter Simonischek.
Ade, who dedicated her screenwriting prize to her father, won best director over Ken Loach, Pedro Almodovar, Paul Verhoeven and Cristian Mungiu.
“It’s the first time a film made by a woman wins this award and it’s 2016!” said Ade, drawing a rowdy applause. “I feel great luxury to make films at a time when we’re going through such crisis but I believe films can cross borders and easily transform the unfamiliar into empathy,” added the director.
A richly-layered dramedy centering on a fragile father-daughter relationship, “Toni Erdmann” is Ade’s third film. Her directorial debut “The Forest for the Trees” won the special jury prize at Sundance, while her sophomore outing “Everyone Else” won Berlin’s jury grand prize and earned Birgit Minichmayr the best actress award. The film represents Germany in the foreign-language Oscar competition.
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Since world premiering at Cannes in competition, “Toni Erdmann” won a best film nomination at the the British Independent Film Awards, among a flurry of nominations and prizes. Sony Pictures Classics has rights to “Toni Erdmann,” along with “Elle” and “Julieta.”
The film category was particularly strong this year with four Cannes competition alumni, “Toni Erdmann,” Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or winning “I, Daniel Blake,” Paul Verhoeven’s thriller “Elle” and Pedro Almodovar’s “Julieta,” as well as Lenny Abrahamson’s heart-wrenching drama “Room” which world premiered last year at Toronto and won a Golden Globe, an Oscar and a BAFTA for its lead actress Brie Larson.
Isabelle Huppert – who has been on a laureled path collecting kudos such as the Gotham Independent Film Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association and New York Film Critics Circle prizes — was considered to be the frontrunner to scoop the European Film Awards’ prize for best actress.
Claude Barras’s “My Life as a Zucchini,” which opened at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight, won best animated film, beating Michael Dudok de Wit’s “The Red Turtle” and “Psiconautas, the forgotten children.”
“My Life as a Zucchini” is repping Switzerland in the foreign-language Oscar race and is one of the animated features shortlisted for the best animated feature category. Gkids has U.S. rights.
Hannes Holm’s “A Man Called Ove” won best comedy. The movie, based on Fredrik Backman’s best-seller, topped Sweden’s box office and reps the country in the foreign-language Oscar race. Music Box has North American rights to the dark comedy.
Gianfranco Rosi’s politically-engaged docu feature “Fire at Sea” won best documentary. “Fire at Sea,” which follows the journey of migrants living on the Italian island of Lampedusa, won the Golden Bear at Berlin.
Welcomed by a long standing ovation, Pierce Brosnan received the European Achievement in World Cinema award from the hands of Susanne Bier, who directed him in “Love is All You Need.”
“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of you is loyalty, as a friend, as a family man, as a fighter for a better world, as a man loyal to causes,” said Bier.
“Faith, hope, courage, truth. In these turbulent times, more than ever we must come together as artists and filmmakers to try to make sense of what’s happening in our countries, nations. We were given that gift to do that,” said Brosnan. “To all the young people (…) Keep your strength, faith, whatever the politics of your states. Be bold and keep making films that are close to your heart.”
Polish Małgorzata Szumowska’s “Body” (“Cialo”) won the people’s choice award.
“Body” premiered at Berlin where it earned warm reviews and earned Szumowska a best director award. Variety’s Peter Debruge called it “a darkly comic rumination on what it means to be alive, how humans deal with loss and the question of what comes after.”
Polish actor Maciej Stuhr, who was hosting the ceremony, got political in his opening speech.
“I love Europe. It’s warm here, I like it. Thank you. Film is a wonderful thing. Cinema is a wonderful way to enter the skin of the other, you see the story of someone, and you start to understand them, and then you can discover that under the surface of what you see, they fear what you fear, they love what you love and they’re quite like you,” said Stuhr.
Stuhr said he emceed the European Film Awards 10 years ago, and remembers celebrating the “new Europe with open borders.” “We thought it was was here to stay. We had no idea,” said Stuhr, alluding to the Brexit vote.
Juho Kuosmanen, whose black-and-white film “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki” won Cannes’ Un Certain Regard prize, won the Fipresci award.
Jean-Claude Carrière received the Lifetime Achievement award and Leontine Petit received the European Co-Production award/Eurimages prize.
Last month, the European Film Awards handed out Martin Zandvliet’s “Land of Mine” three of the first seven prizes in below-the-line categories.
“Land of Mine,” a gripping historical drama following a group of young German POWs forced to de-mine Danish beaches after the Axis defeat, earned Camilla Hjelm Knudsen the Carlo di Palma award for best European cinematographer. It also won for costume design (Stefanie Bieker) as well as hair and makeup (Barbara Kreuzer).
“Land of Mine” represents Denmark in the foreign-language Oscar race and will be released in the U.S. and Latin America by Sony Pictures Classics.
During the ceremony, German vet director Wim Wenders, who presides the European Film Academy, got up on stage to pay homage to late Polish film and theater director Andrzej Wajda.
Wenders paid tribute Wajda’s “moral compass and values.”
“You always stood up, spoke up when it was needed even in difficult political times and even if it put you in trouble personally,” said Wenders, who recently wrapped the shoot of “Submergence” with Alicia Vikander and James McAvoy.
In recent years, the European Film Awards have become increasingly international. Paolo Sorrentino won twice in the last five years with “Youth” in 2015 and “The Great Beauty” in 2013. Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida” won in 2014, while Michael Haneke won in 2012 with “Amour.”
The list of nominees and winners (in bold) below:
“Elle” (Paul Verhoeven, France, Germany)
“I, Daniel Blake” (Ken Loach, U.K., France)
“Julieta” (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
“Room” (Lenny Abrahamson, Ireland, Canada)
“Toni Erdmann” (Maren Ade, Germany, Austria)
Paul Verhoeven (“Elle,” France, Germany)
Cristian Mungiu (“Graduation,” Romania, France, Belgium)
Ken Loach (“I, Daniel Blake,” U.K., France)
Pedro Almodóvar (“Julieta,” Spain)
Maren Ade (“Toni Erdmann,” Germany, Austria)
Rolf Lassgård (“A Man Called Ove”)
Hugh Grant (“Florence Foster Jenkins”)
Dave Johns (“I, Daniel Blake”)
Burghart Klaußner (“The People vs. Fritz Bauer”)
Peter Simonischek (“Toni Erdmann”)
Javier Cámara (“Truman”)
Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”)
Emma Suárez & Adriana Ugarte (“Julieta”)
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (“Like Crazy”)
Trine Dyrholm (“The Commune”)
Sandra Hüller (“Toni Erdmann”)
Cristian Mungiu (“Graduation”)
Paul Laverty (“Blake”)
Emma Donoghue (“Room”)
Maren Ade (“Toni Erdmann”)
Tomasz Wasilewski (“United States of Love”)
“The Land Of The Enlightened” (Pieter-Jan De Pue, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands)
“21 X New York” (Piotr Stasik,Poland)
“Mr. Gaga” (Tomer Heymann, Israel, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands)
“S is for Stanley – 30 Years At The Wheel For Stanley Kubrick” (Alex Infascelli, Italy)
“A Family Affair” (Tom Fassaert, the Netherlands, Belgium)
“Fire At Sea” (Gianfranco Rosi, Italy, France)
European Animated Feature:
“My Life as a Zucchini” (Claude Barras, France, Switzerland)
“Psiconautas, the forgotten children” (Pedro Rivero, Alberto Vázquez, Spain)
“The Red Turtle” (Michael Dudok de Wit, Japan, France, Belgium)
“A Man Called Ove” (Hannes Holm, Sweden, Norway)
“Look Who’s Back” (David Wnendt, Germany)
“La Vache” (Mohamed Hamidi, France)
Fipresci Prize – European Discovery:
“Dogs” (Bogdan Mirica, France, Romania, Bulgaria, Qatar)
“Liebmann” (Jules Herrmann, Germany)
“Sand Storm” (Elite Zexer, Israel)
“The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki” (Juho Kuosmanen, Finland, Sweden, Germany)
“Thirst” (Svetla Tsotsorkova, Bulgaria)