Danish tragicomedy "Another Round" was named best European film of the year at the European Film Awards on Saturday — in addition to a series of further awards it won during the evening.
The presenter of the evening Steven Gätjen acknowledged right at the beginning of the ceremony in Berlin that 2020 had been "a shitty year" for everyone, while he also highlighted that despite all challenges, the film industry was still thriving around the world, pushing new "boundaries and exploring their topics in unexpected ways."
The awards ceremony, which was originally planned to take place in Iceland, had to be canceled and moved to Berlin, where a digital broadcast replaced the original event.
It was attended live throughout only by the outgoing EFA director Marion Döring, outgoing EFA president Wim Wenders, incoming EFA President Agnieszka Holland, chairman of the EFA Board Mike Downey and presenter Steven Gätjen, while about a half dozen individual presenters for awards walked in and out of the Futurium event space in Berlin.
A night to celebrate Danish cinema
Thomas Vinterberg picked up the first award of the evening — European Director — for his movie "Another Round" — as well as the last award — Best European Film. The awards ceremony recognized the work of the Danish director by awarding him all four prizes his film had been nominated for.
Vinterberg thanked his family and friends for helping him to make the movie during "the most difficult time of my life," referring to his 19-year-old daughter Ida's death in a car accident last year.
The movie also received the European Screenwriter award for Danish screenwriter Tobias Lindholm. Mads Mikkelsen, who plays the male lead in the movie, meanwhile was awarded the European Actor award. He said he would share the award with the five other men nominated in the category and later turned to director Thomas Vinterberg in his speech, saying "I share this award with you."
The Danish movie depicts the quest for meaning in life among four friends through an unexpected lens: the four schoolteachers decide to maintain a constant level of alcohol in their blood in order to make their lives more interesting and enjoyable. But later, the experiment derails.
Best actress award goes to Germany
German actress Paula Beer won the European Actress award for her performance in "Undine," a movie that combines supernatural themes with a thriller narrative, referring throughout the film to the ancient mythological water nymph legend of the same name. Director Christian Petzold's film had also been nominated for best film.
Carlo Sironi, meanwhile, received the European Discovery award for his movie "Sole." The Italian director’s debut follows the journey of a young pregnant woman who prepares to sell her child upon birth but has to pretend to be in a relationship with a man she has never met before in order to satisfy the law, which doesn't allow surrogacy.
Recognizing the art of storytelling – not just in fiction
Mark Cousins collected the EFA Award for innovative storytelling, a new category introduced this year. His 14-hour documentary "Women Make Film" highlights the history of women in cinema.
The European Film Academy called Cousins' project about overlooked female filmmakers "groundbreaking," and Wim Wenders said during award ceremony that the documentary will play an important role in balancing the scales between the sexes in the film industry.
Despite a long delay in the transmission of his signal from Edinburgh, the Scottish director shared his many tattoos of the female filmmakers that have inspired him with the audience.
Alexander Nanau won the award for European Documentary with his work "Collective." The investigative piece follows journalists at the Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor in their efforts to uncover massive health-care fraud in Romania.
Changing of the guard
There were also some tears at the event, as EFA director Döring and EFA president Wenders, who had been with the awards series since its beginning in 1988, announced their retirement from their top positions at the European Film Academy.
Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked Döring and Wenders for all their work for and dedication to European cinema in a prerecorded message shared during the broadcast.
In taking over leadership, incoming EFA President Agnieszka Holland said that Wenders and Döring would always have a home at the European Film Academy, while highlighting that she wanted to turn to Europe’s young talent in the future – especially women.
The European Film Awards are among the most prestigious events in the European film industry, and indeed around the world. More than 3,800 members of the film academy vote on the many award winners each year, similar to the Academy Awards in the USA.
Those attending the event expressed hope that next year, they could be in the same room with the nominees and winners and hug each other for every win.