The European Film Awards celebrated their Silver Jubilee last night and handed out their annual accolades on the beautiful island of Malta. We donned our glad rags and joined the party in a former hospital – albeit a beautiful and imposing one – in Valetta. Here are the highlights of the night…

Early on it seemed that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Hunt were going to battle it out for the most awards, but the big winner of the night was Michael Haneke’s Amour. Not only did the film scoop the prize for European Director and European Film, but actors Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva both won for their haunting performances, which brought the film’s total to four. These awards for Amour echo the film’s win at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Director Michael Haneke chose to speak in his native German “to preserve my identity” and to underline the fact that these awards were designed to recognise the best of European Cinema.

As well as this, Helen Mirren and Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci were given honorary awards by the European Film Academy to recognise their contributions to European film and cinema as a whole. When introducing Bernardo Bertolucci, Academy President Wim Wenders said of the diretor’s early career; “Bernardo became the independent European filmmaker par excellence, and he continued to speak with great clarity and beauty in his extraordinary, even controversial films”. After a short video recap of his careern, Bernado Bertolucci – who has been confined to an wheelchair due to illness – thanked those assembled for his award saying simply “My mouth is too dry for long speeches; long life to European cinema, and long life to the European Film Academy Awards”.

Helen Mirren was introduced by our own Michael Gambon – Mireen’s co-star in The Cook, The Theif, His Wife and Her Lover – who reminded those assembled in Valetta of the actress’ illustrious career. Jim Sheridan also paid tribute to Mirren and thanked her for “taking a lot of stick” and standing up for European film. Mirren named the European actresses who had inspired her, including Claudia Cardinale, Liv Ullman and Jeanne Moreau, and appeared to be moved to the brink of tears during her acceptance speech. Mirren also made reference to the golden age of European cinema in her speech, saying “Thank you for recognising that I, too, am a fucking whore, and very very proud of it”.

Elsewhere, Thomas Vinterberg took the opportunity to ask Wim Wenders to go for dinner with him when accepting the European Screenwriter Award for The Hunt, which he co-wrote with Tobias Lindholm and director Geoffrey Enthoven – winner of The People’s Choice Award 2012 for Hasta La Vista (Come As You Are) – used his acceptance speech to propose to his girlfriend, which, we discovered later, she happily accepted.

German comedienne Anke Engelke hosted the ceremony for the fourth time, and the three hour ceremony was peppered with gentle japes and videos of her synopsising the nominees for European Film 2012. Although Engelke declared each nominee to be her favourite film of the year, and acted out scenes from the film in a sometimes awkward manner, these fun clips were funny and well recieved. 

There was disappointment for Irish actor Michael Fassbender, who lost out to Jean-Louis Trintignant in the European Actor category. As well as this, Broken – written by Mark O’Rowe and starring Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy – failed to scoop the Discovery Award. 

Academy President Wim Wenders used the ceremony as a means to call for greater investment in European Cinema and the theme of giving life to small films through funding and wider distribution was a theme running throughout the ceremony.

More than 2,700 members of the European Film Academy – including 27 members from Ireland – voted for last night’s winners, listed below;

EUROPEAN FILM 2012:
AMOUR
France / Germany / Austria, 127 min
written & directed by Michael Haneke
produced by Margaret Menegoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka & Michael Katz

EUROPEAN DIRECTOR 2012:
Michael Haneke for AMOUR

EUROPEAN ACTRESS 2012:
Emmanuelle Riva in AMOUR

EUROPEAN ACTOR 2012:
Jean-Louis Trintignant in AMOUR

EUROPEAN SCREENWRITER 2012:
Tobias Lindholm & Thomas Vinterberg for JAGTEN (The Hunt)

CARLO DI PALMA EUROPEAN CINEMATOGRAPHER AWARD 2012:
Sean Bobbitt for SHAME

EUROPEAN EDITOR 2012:
Joe Walker for SHAME

EUROPEAN PRODUCTION DESIGNER 2012:
Maria Djurkovic for TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY

EUROPEAN COMPOSER 2012:
Alberto Iglesias for TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY

EUROPEAN DISCOVERY 2012 – Prix FIPRESCI:
KAUWBOY by Boudewijn Koole (The Netherlands)

EUROPEAN FILM ACADEMY DOCUMENTARY 2012:
HIVER NOMADE (Winter Nomads) by Manuel von Stürler (Switzerland)

EUROPEAN FILM ACADEMY ANIMATED FEATURE FILM 2012:
ALOIS NEBEL by Tomáš Luňák (Czech Republic / Germany / Slovakia)

EUROPEAN FILM ACADEMY SHORT FILM 2012:
SUPERMAN, SPIDERMAN OR BATMAN by Tudor Giurgiu, Romania

EUROPEAN CO-PRODUCTION AWARD 2012 – Prix EURIMAGES:
Helena Danielsson, Sweden

EUROPEAN ACHIEVEMENT IN WORLD CINEMA 2012:
Dame Helen Mirren, UK

EUROPEAN FILM ACADEMY LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:
Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy

THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD 2012:
HASTA LA VISTA (Come As You Are)
directed by Geoffrey Enthoven

Words – Brogen Hayes