- Sunday, December 10, 2017 2:59 PM
Berlin, 10 December 2017 (MIA) - The Square, a surreal, freaky and at times difficult to watch satire set in the world of contemporary art, has dominated the 30th anniversary of the European film awards.
The film followed up the Palme d’Or it took at Cannes by taking six awards at a ceremony in Berlin for prizes that aim to be the European arthouse equivalent of the Oscars, The Guardian reports.
There was also British success with the 19th-century Northumberland-set dark drama Lady Macbeth winning the evening’s discovery prize.
Stephen Frears, presenting the award to first-time film director William Oldroyd, said sorry to the audience. “I come from a country so stupid we want to leave Europe,” he said. “I apologise for the trouble we’ve caused.”
The troubles of Europe, whether Brexit or the rise of nationalism, were a recurring theme for speakers at the ceremony, as was the continuing scandal of sexual harassment in the film industry.
But there was fun too. The Swedish film-maker Ruben Östlund, twice led the audience in a loud “primal screen of happiness” as he accepted awards for The Square for best director and best film.
The French actor and director Julie Delpy was given a European achievement in world cinema, a prize previously won by actors and film-makers including Helen Mirren, Isabelle Huppert, Lars von Trier and Steve McQueen.
She was heartfelt in her thanks, saying she was getting it for “surviving” in the business, including 20 years of having doors slammed in her face before she could direct her first film aged 36.
Delpy told the audience about her worst professional disappointment, the withdrawal of finance for her latest film, My Zoe, at the last minute.
“I’m not giving up,” she said. She said needed €600,000 quickly so announced a raffle, with first prize breakfast with Delpy the next day.
“It will be entertaining. I can talk about art, film, science, history, politics, architecture, cooking, I’ll be funny if you want, I can cry ... anything, anything to make my film.”
The audience whooped and the ceremony presenter offered €100 euros for starters.
Some asked whether the Russian auteur Aleksandr Sokurov, who won a lifetime achievement award, might top Östlund and Delpy by leading the audience in a giant conga out of the Berliner Festspiele and into the freezing night air. He didn’t.
The six awards won by The Square were best film, best comedy, best director, best screenwriter, production design, and best actor for Dane Claes Bang, who plays the stylish but weird gallery director.
The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw called it a sprawling and daringly surreal satire. “The Square turns a contemporary art museum into a city-state of bizarre, dysfunctional and Ballardian strangeness,” he said.
The Russian film Loveless won two awards for best cinematography and music; and Hungarian Alexandra Borbély won best actress for her portrayal of an abattoir worker who embarks on an unusual affair with her boss in the film On Body and Soul.
Other awards included best documentary going to the Polish film Communion and best animated feature to Loving Vincent, a Van Gogh film by the Polish-British wife and husband Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman.
The European Film awards were founded in Berlin in 1988 as an arthouse alternative to the Oscars, with Krzysztof Kieślowski’s A Short Film About Killing winning the first best film award. sk/14:58
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