The European Film Awards returned home to Berlin tonight, after a beautiful but chilly ceremony in the Latvian capital Riga last year. This year, the Haus der Berliner Festspiele played host to the awards, where the best and brightest of the European film world gathered to celebrate the best films, directors and actors of 2015.

‘Youth’ was the big winner on the night, taking home European Film and European Actor, but Ireland did pretty well on the night, with ‘The Lobster’ winning two awards, and Tomm Moore’s ‘Song of the Sea’ scooping the award for European Animated Film.

German comedian Thomas Hermanns returned to do hosting duty for the ceremony, bringing his trademark humour to the gig. Opening the ceremony Hermanns reminded the audience presence that they were gathered to celebrate the greatness of European cinema; “European films are not just about making pretty pictures; they are willed with pain, with politics, with politics and thankfully, with laughter”.

Sir Michael Caine was honoured with the Honorary Award of the EFA President and Board for his contribution to cinema throughout his career, which culminated tonight in a nomination for his role in Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘Youth’, which will be released in Irish cinemas on January 29th 2016. European Film Academy President Wim Wenders presented the award to Caine – after a lengthy standing ovation – who, when accepting, said “Tonight I’m nominated for Best Actor and, if you are you go, terribly nervous, and you go but you are never going to win, so you sit there clapping someone else… I have never won a European Award, except this one. I have never had an award like this, it’s for a career and a life, and I can’t tell you how honoured I am to receive it, and how un-nervous I am to not receive Best Actor tonight. Thank you”.

As well as being nominated for European Actress for her role in the marital drama ’45 Years’, Charlottle Rampling took home the award for EFA Lifetime Achievement for her work in both English language and foreign language cinema. Longtime collaborator, director Francois Ozon presented the award saying “You are the most important actress in my life”. When accepting, Rampling said “When I was a very young actress in England in the 70s, I crossed the channel and wanted to join forces with Europe”. Rampling went on to say “When Wim asked me if I would accept this award, I was not sure if a Life Achievement award was really my cup of tea, but it was because this is the European Film Academy, and I am so very very proud to have this award from this Academy”.

Christoph Waltz scooped the gong for EFA European Achievement in World Cinema. Waltz will next be seen in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ – released in Ireland on January 8th 2016. Alexander Skarsgard presented the award to Waltz, saying “Sometimes all it takes is one performance; one single performance took Christoph Waltz from obscurity to superstardom”. Waltz, when accepting his award, said “Thank you, I am honoured beyond comprehension. I was recently asked what percentage I thought my career was down to luck. I loathe percentages, but I realised what percentage of my career was down to luck; 100%”

Polo Sorrentino’s ‘Youth’ took home the top gong of the night; European Film. When accepting the award, Sorrentino said “This is a movie more about the perception about freedom; the most important thing in Europe at the moment is exactly this, the perception of freedom”. Michael Caine also spoke about the win saying ‘I would just like to say “Thanks for the job, and next time I’ll ask for more money”.

Director Asif Kapadia took home the award for his wonderful film ‘Amy’. When accepting his award, Kapadia said “This is such an honour; just to be in the room is quite an honour, with so many cinematic heroes” the director went on to say; “I stand here, my family came over from India in the 60s from India, they came over to seek a better life and the film comes out because someone like me had a chance to go to film school and create cinema”.

Italian director Paolo Sorrentino took home the award for his film ‘Youth’, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Sorrentino thanked his producers and the European Film Academy for this honour.

Sir Michael Caine
took home his second award of the night for his role in Paolo Sorrentino’s in ‘Youth’. Caine was visibly surprised at his win, saying; “Well there’s a surprise. I needn’t have got the other award, I could have come here just for this. It has been 50 years and I have never won an award in Europe and I have won two in one evening. It’s unbelievable but I am going to give it a great shot to believe it, because it’s happened now. I usually sit in these audiences and clap someone else. I am very good at that by the way. Thank you, thank you, thank you very much. I can’t tell you what this means to me”.

In the second double win of the evening, Charlotte Rampling took home the award for European Actress. Rampling was obviously surprised at the win, saying; “There’s no more to say, there really isn’t. Except, like Michael [Caine], I have not really had any prizes, but it is so not part of what I have sought for, I have just wanted to do the films that I have done. Thank you so much”.

Roy Andersson took home the award for his film ‘A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence’. When accepting his award, Andersson said “I am very very happy to have this prize; it’s comedy and that’s what I planned it as from the very beginning”.

Our own Tomm Moore from Cartoon Saloon took home the award for the beautifully animated ‘Song of the Sea’. When accepting his award, Moore said; “I just want to thank the European Film Academy, and I want to say it is a real honour to be nominated beside the guys from Aardman and the team from ‘Adama’. This is the type of film that can only be made in Europe!”

Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthimis Filippou won for their film ‘The Lobster’, beating ‘Ex Machina’, ’45 Years’ and ‘Youth’. When accepting his award, Yorgos Lanthimos, who also directed ‘The Lobster’, said; “Thank you to the Academy… and to all the wonderful actors who made this film possible”.

The rest of the winners are…
EUROPEAN CINEMATOGRAPHER –Martin Gschlacht for ‘Goodnight Mommy’
EUROPEAN EDITOR – Jareck Drosio for ‘Body’
EUROPEAN PRODUCTION DESIGNER – Sylvie Olivé for ‘The Brand New Testament’
EUROPEAN COSTUME DESIGNER – Sarah Blenkinsop for ‘The Lobster’
EUROPEAN COMPOSER – Cat’s Eyes for ‘The Duke of Burgundy’
EUROPEAN SOUND DESIGNER – Vasco Pimentel & Miguel Martins for ‘Arabian Nights –Vol I-III’

Words: Brogen Hayes