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European Film Awards 2009: Tahar Rahim, Kate Winslet, Ken Loach, Isabelle Huppert

Tahar Rahim

Best actor European Film Award winner Tahar Rahim was present at the Dec. 12 ceremony in Bochum, Germany, to receive his trophy for his performance as a prison inmate at odds with the local Corsican mafia in Jacques Audiard's A Prophet. However, much like last year's best actress winner Helen Mirren (for The Queen), Kate Winslet was nowhere to be found in the auditorium.

Winslet won for Stephen Daldry's The Reader, in which she plays a former Nazi guard who has an affair with a teenager (best actor nominee David Kross) half her age. That was in 2008. She won an Oscar and a Golden Globe back in early 2009. She was present at both ceremonies. But we're now a couple of weeks away from 2010. My point: The European Film Academy should seriously consider changing their eligibility schedule.

Ken Loach, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award, didn't say anything about EFA's eligibility schedule, but he did say that Europeans have something to learn from the Americans. No, not how to make movies or produce awards ceremonies. "The U.S. government supports its steel and agricultural industries," he remarked. "Why can't our politicians protect European film?"

(According to filmmaker Tomm Moore, whose The Secret of Kells was up for the best animated feature award, the previous night Loach asked audience members at a screening of Looking for Eric to "make some noise about Western Sahara and the plight of one their leading human rights activists who is currently on hunger strike in Lanzarote airport." That's Aminatou Haidar. More in The Guardian.)

Dev Patel in Slumdog Millionaire

Even though Slumdog Millionaire (above, with Dev Patel) was old news, Danny Boyle was there to pick up the People's Choice Award for best film. That and Anthony Dod Mantle's award for best cinematography (along with Mantle's work on Lars von Trier's Antichrist) was all the worldwide sleeper hit won in Bochum. What a difference 10 months make.

Among the other EFA winners were Jacques-Rémy Girerd and Nora Twomey's Mia and the Migoo for best animated feature; Marcel Lozinski's Poste restante for best short; Alberto Iglesias for best composer for his Broken Embraces score; Peter Strickland's Katalin Varga for best first feature; and the sound crew of A Prophet.

Isabelle Huppert

European Achievement in World Cinema recipient Isabelle Huppert – appropriately introduced by Volker Schlöndorff as "a woman who isn't afraid of anything" – began her speech in English and then switched to French, stating that cinema, "a voyage that is both internal and external," should be the "European language." Perhaps, but for the European Film Awards to become a major cinematic event of global importance it needs more than just a "language" or even good films. It needs a new schedule...

Photos: European Film Academy

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