Photo of the 2015 EFA winners (large)

UK success at the European Film Awards

UK films were triumphant at this weekend's annual celebration of European cinema, the 28th European Film Awards, with several British winners announced at the glittering ceremony in Berlin.

Michael Caine and Charlotte Rampling lead the British successes, each taking home two awards. 82 year old Caine received the Best Actor prize for his portrayal of a retired composer in Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth (La Giovinezza), as well as the EFA Honorary Award. Rampling was the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award and went on to win the Best Actress prize for her role in Andrew Haigh’s acclaimed MEDIA-funded drama 45 Years. Accepting her award, Rampling stressed the importance of European cinema in “creating worlds that we need to see”.

Youth (La Giovinezza) also took home the ceremony’s top prize, Best Film, and was hailed as an example of borderless filmmaking - made with co-producers from the UK, Italy, France and Switzerland. Paolo Sorrentino also won the award for Best Director with the project. 

Youth (La Giovinezza) is the first English-language winner of the award since MEDIA-funded Melancholia in 2011. French company Pathé Distribution received funding from Creative Europe’s Sales Agents scheme for the film and its release in several territories across Europe was supported by the Automatic distribution fund.

At a strikingly successful night for the British film industry, UK talent also dominated in the documentary category, with Asif Kapadia winning for Amy, his controversial portrait of the tragic singer Amy Winehouse. Released in the UK in July by Altitude Films, the film received funding through Creative Europe's Automatic distribution scheme for its release in other European countries.

In addition, the prize for European Composer went to UK drama The Duke of Burgundy, which received MEDIA Automatic distribution funding for its release in France. 

There was some further British success with the prize for Best Screenplay going to Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou for their dystopian dating satire The Lobster, alongside the accolade for European Costume Designer for Sarah Blenkinsop. The European co-production between Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Greece and France was supported at development stage with a grant to the Ireland’s Element Pictures through Creative Europe – MEDIA’s Slate funding scheme.

Other Creative Europe triumphs

On the night, European Film Academy (EFA) chairwoman, Polish director Agnieszka Holland, presented a selection of awards with EFA president, the German director Wim Wenders. 

Other MEDIA-supported triumphs included European Comedy for Roy Andersson’s surrealist film A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron), which has received MEDIA support through both the Automatic and Selective schemes for distribution, as well as the Sales Agents scheme

The Carlo di Palma European Cinematographer Award went to Martin Gschlacht for Goodnight Mommy (Ich she ich seh), which was also supported by Creative Europe through its Sales Agents scheme. 

Irish fantasy Song of the Sea won Best Animated Film. Irish company Cartoon Saloon received a Slate development grant from Creative Europe's MEDIA sub-programme for the project in which Saoirse, a little girl who can turn into a seal, goes on an adventure with her brother to save the spirit world and other magical beings like her. The film's French distributor was also supported for the film’s release through the Automatic distribution scheme.

Both recipients of Creative Europe Automatic distribution funding, the prize for European Production Designer was given to Sylvie Olivé for The Brand New Testament (Le tout nouveau testament), whilst European Sound Designer was awarded to Miguel Martins and Vasco Pimentel for Arabian Nights (As mil e uma noites).

The full list of winners can be viewed on the EFA website. The ceremony was streamed live online and is still available to watch on the EFA website.

Photo: The 2015 European Film Award winners line up for a photocall. Image courtesy of the European Film Academy.