TALLINN - Tallinn began hosting the 2011 European Capital of Culture in glamorous style on December 4th by being the host city of the 23rd European Film Awards. The ceremony – hosted by the European Film Academy – celebrates the very best of filmmaking from across the continent and managed to attract a host of film stars despite weather and airline strikes grounding many. Coming at the conclusion of the hugely successful 14th edition Black Nights Film Festival, it also celebrated the fact that Estonia can be seen not only as an important focus for European (and world) cinema but for culture in general.
Sadly only one film from Estonia, The Temptation of St. Tony, was included in the nominees and when it lost out on the Best Production Design award there was an audible sigh of disappointment in the audience. But people didn’t feel as bad when the winner – The Ghost Writer – ended up sweeping the boards also taking home the trophies for Best Film, Director, Actor and Script. Roman Polanski wasn’t on hand to accept the accolades given to his film – a tense political thriller starring Ewan MacGregor and Pierce Brosnan – despite many rumours that were flying around the previous days. However, he did manage to send his thanks due to the wonders of Skype and seemed genuinely delighted that his enormous legal troubles had not seemed to dampen enthusiasm for his work.
Other big winners included Lebanon, the tense Israeli movie almost entirely set in the confines of a tank, and Gabriel Yared, the superb composer who picked up an award for his European Achievement in World Cinema. The recipient of the lifetime achievement award Bruno Ganz (recently most famous for playing Hitler in the powerful movie Downfall) also moved the audience by relating his experiences of working for many a European auteur (whilst everyone who loves cinema should make it a point to track down the story related by director Wim Wenders about how Ganz and Dennis Hopper ended up punching each other on the set of The American Friend).
Indeed, the entire event was a joyous affair not only for the industry attendees but also for the many film fans who camped out to get glimpse of the likes of Juliette Binoche and many others from the European film world. Whilst it was a shame that some of the presenters (who included Estonian actor Märt Avandi) resorted to jokes making fun of the host country, the Estonians took the jibes, proud in the fact that ceremony was merely the beginning of a year of splendid cultural events and worldwide recognition
For a full list of winners visit http://www.europeanfilmacademy.org