The Italian film 'Gomorra,' a harrowing account of the criminal underworld in Naples, cleaned up at the European Film Awards in the Danish capital on Saturday night, receiving five of the 15 top awards.
'Gomorra' paints an uncompromising and realistic portrait of the mafia in Naples
In addition to receiving the prize as the top European film of 2008, director Matteo Garrone was named best director and Toni Servillo named the best actor.
Servillo's award also included his work in 'Il Divo' (The Star.)
'Gomorra' took the awards for best film, best director, best actor, best screenplay and the Carlo di Palma award for best photography.
The film, based on the book by Roberto Saviano, had been nominated for ten of the 15 prizes. Saviano was unable to attend the ceremony because he is pursued by constant threats of murder for his book.
Academy honors film that goes "beyond its origin"
Actor Toni Servillo, director Matteo Garrone and actress Maria Nazionale
The Berlin-based European Film Academy's board chairman Yves Marmion said 'Gomorra' had "a very special aura that goes beyond its country" of origin.
"This is the year of Italy which has shown us with 'Il Divo' that European cinema is of very good quality, very close to the realities in this world," he told reporters.
Director Garrone said: "I share the price with the Neapolitan people who live in danger, and I want to thank everyone who has participated in this dangerous movie."
Wenders hails vitality of European cinema
Wenders praised 'Gomorra'
Academy chief and German film director Wim Wenders said he was "not at all surprised by the number of statuettes won by 'Gomorra,' an excellent film, which is a sign of the vitality of the European cinema, which can travel and be successful elsewhere."
He told reporters: "It was a great selection this year. A lot of films are travelling in many European countries. I think it's a great year."
The 2007 best film award went to Romanian director Cristian Mungiu's '4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.' In 2006, it went to German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's 'The Lives of Others.'
Kristin Scott Thomas won the European award for best actress in the French film 'Il y a longtemps que je t'aime' ('I've Loved You So Long') by Philippe Claudel.
Oscar-winning British actress Dame Judi Dench also received an award honoring for her life's work.