European Film Award winners: ‘Volver’ actress Penélope Cruz & director Pedro Almodóvar
The 2006 European Film Award winners were announced on Dec. 2 at a ceremony held at the EXPO XXI in Warsaw, and hosted by Sophie Marceau and Maciej Stuhr. The top movie of the evening – i.e., the one that won the most trophies – was Pedro Almodóvar’s humorous, touching Volver, which collected four European Film Awards:
- Best European Director: Pedro Almodóvar.
- Best European Actress: Penélope Cruz, for her portrayal of a latter-day Anna Magnani type, trying to cope with both ghosts of the past and a “ghost” in the present. (The Queen star Helen Mirren, this year’s Best Actress Oscar favorite, was not in the running.)
- Best European Cinematographer: José Luis Alcaine, who tied with Barry Ackroyd for Ken Loach’s 2006 Palme d’Or-winning Irish guerrilla drama The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
- Best European Composer: Alberto Iglesias, whose first-rate score sounds like the offspring of Bernard Herrmann’s and Max Steiner’s music.
Pedro Almodóvar: Career & life changer
Upon accepting his Best European Director trophy, Pedro Almodóvar declared, “It was a very important experience for me to go back to the tiny place where I was born. I dedicate this award to the wonderful actresses who represented the women who surrounded me when I was a child.”
Fighting back tears, Penélope Cruz told her director, “Thank you so much for giving me the chance to play this part. You have changed my career and my life.” Having received her best notices to date, Cruz is a top contender for the 2006 Best Actress Academy Award. She and Almodóvar had worked together twice before Volver: Live Flesh (1997) and Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner All About My Mother (1999), in both of which Cruz had supporting roles.
Earlier this year, she and her fellow Volver cast members shared an ensemble Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival, where Almodóvar was also handed the Best Screenplay award.
Besides its four wins in the European Film Awards’ official competition, Volver also took home the People’s Choice Award for Best European Film. The European Film Academy’s Best European Film, however, was another title. (See further below the full list of European Film Award winners and nominations.)
Conventional ‘The Lives of Others’ gets top European Film Award
In contrast to Volver‘s four European Film Award wins, the European Film Academy opted for conventionality when it came to its top award: Writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Cold War mix of spy thriller and melodrama, The Lives of Others / Das Leben der Anderen, was named Best European Film.
Additionally, Henckel von Donnersmarck was the Best European Screenwriter while The Lives of Others star Ulrich Mühe was handed the Best European Actor award for his performance as a Stasi spy who, while eavesdropping on an East Berlin playwright in the mid-1980s, begins to question both his personal ethics and his allegiance to the Communist Party. In real life, Mühe, a renowned stage actor for about a quarter of a century, was himself spied on by East Germany’s fearsome state police.
The Lives of Others became the third German film in the last four years to win the top European Film Award, following Wolfgang Becker’s Good Bye Lenin! in 2003 and Fatih Akin’s Head-On / Gegen die Wand at the 2004 ceremony. Curiously, last year’s Best European Film winner, the psychological/political thriller Caché / Hidden, was also directed by a German speaker – Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke – but the Paris-set tale starred Francophones Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche.
More European Film Award winners
Among the other 2006 European Film Award winners were:
- Philip Gröning’s Into Great Silence / Die Grosse Stille, about life inside the Grande Chartreuse, the head monastery of the reclusive Carthusian Order in France, which had been previously announced as the Best European Documentary winner.
- Philippe Garrel’s Regular Lovers / Les amants réguliers, a Nouvelle Vague-ish look into the life of a Parisian student and revolutionary (played by the director’s son, Louis Garrel), which received the FIPRESCI (International Film Critics) Award.
- Georgian filmmaker Géla Babluani’s well-crafted but exploitative 13 (Tzameti), which took home the European Discovery Award.
- Pierre Pell and Stéphane Rozenbaum, who were handed an award for “artistic contribution” for the production design in Michel Gondry’s The Science of Sleep. (Previous years’ technical/craft categories were condensed into one single category this year.)
- The European Achievement in World Cinema Award went to British producer Jeremy Thomas, whose latest films include Fast Food Nation and Tideland.
Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Roman Polanski
One can safely assume it was no coincidence that Polanski was chosen as the honoree in the year the European Film Academy held their awards ceremony in Poland, where he began his film career (When Angels Fall, Knife in the Water) and where he would later return for The Pianist, which earned him the 2002 Best Director Oscar.
“It’s a moving moment for me to receive this award, particularly in Warsaw,” Polanski said. “Only good things happen to me in this city.”
The Warsaw ceremony was the first European Film Awards event to take place in a country from the former Soviet Bloc.
See also: 2006 European Film Award nominations.
2006 European Film Awards
Best European Film
Breakfast on Pluto. Ireland / U.K.
Dir.: Neil Jordan.
Grbavica. Austria / Bosnia-Herzegovina / Germany / Croatia.
Dir.: Jasmila Zbanic.
* The Lives of Others / Das Leben der Anderen. Germany.
Dir.: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
The Road to Guantanamo. U.K.
Dir.: Michael Winterbottom & Mat Whitecross.
Dir.: Pedro Almodóvar.
The Wind That Shakes the Barley. U.K. / Ireland / Germany / Italy / Spain.
Dir.: Ken Loach.
Best European Director
* Pedro Almodóvar, Volver.
Susanne Bier, After the Wedding / Efter Brylluppet.
Emanuele Crialese, The Golden Door / Nuovomondo.
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others.
Ken Loach, The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
Michael Winterbottom & Mat Whitecross, The Road to Guantanamo.
Best European Actor
Patrick Chesnais, Not Here to Be Loved / Je ne suis pas là pour être aimé.
Jesper Christensen Manslaughter / In Drabet.
Mads Mikkelsen, After the Wedding / Efter Brylluppet.
* Ulrich Mühe, The Lives of Others.
Cillian Murphy, Breakfast on Pluto & The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
Silvio Orlando, The Caiman / Il Caimano.
Best European Actress
Nathalie Baye, Le Petit Lieutenant.
* Penélope Cruz, Volver.
Martina Gedeck, The Lives of Others.
Sandra Hüller, Requiem.
Mirjana Karanovic, Grbavica.
Sarah Polley, The Secret Life of Words / La Vida secreta de las palabras.
Best European Screenwriter
Pedro Almodóvar, Volver.
* Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others.
Paul Laverty, The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
Corneliu Porumboiu, 12:08 East Of Bucharest / A Fost Sau N-a Fost.
Best European Cinematographer (tie)
* Barry Ackroyd, The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
* José Luis Alcaine, Volver.
Roman Osin, Pride & Prejudice.
Timo Salminen, Lights in the Dusk / Laitakaupungin Valot.
Best European Composer
* Alberto Iglesias, Volver.
Tuomas Kantelinen, Mother of Mine / Äideistä Parhain.
Dario Marianelli, Pride & Prejudice.
Gabriel Yared & Stéphane Moucha, The Lives of Others.
* 13 (Tzameti), Gela Babluani, France / Georgia.
Retrieval / Z Odzysku, Slawomir Fabicki, Poland.
Pingpong, Matthias Luthardt, Germany.
Fresh Air / Friss Levegö, Agnes Kocsis, Hungary.
European Documentary - Prix Arte
37 Uses for a Dead Sheep, Ben Hopkins, U.K.
* Into Great Silence / Die Grosse Stille, Philip Gröning, Germany.
Dreaming by Numbers, Anna Bucchetti, The Netherlands.
Grandmother’s House / La Casa de mi abuela, Adan Aliaga, Spain.
Maradona, The Golden Kid / Maradona, Un gamin en or, Jean-Christophe Rosé, France.
The Cemetery Club / Moadon beit Hakvarot, Tali Shemesh, Israel.
The Fisherman and the Dancing Girl / Rybak i Tantsovshitsa, Valeriy Solomin, Russia.
Our Daily Bread / Unser täglich Brot, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Austria.
European Film Academy Short Film - Prix UIP
Prix UIP Ghent.
Dir.: Till Nowak.
Prix UIP Valladolid.
Dir.: Giulio Ricciarelli.
Prix UIP Angers.
Dir.: Valérie Pirson.
Prix UIP Rotterdam.
Dir.: Joke Liberge.
Prix UIP Berlin.
Dir.: Ricardo Íscar & Nacho Martín.
Prix UIP Tampere.
* Before Dawn.
Dir.: Bálint Kenyeres.
Prix UIP Cracow.
Dir.: Patrick Poubel.
Prix UIP Grimstad.
Dir.: Bobbie Peers.
Prix UIP Vila Do Conde.
By the Kiss.
Dir.: Yann Gonzalez.
Prix UIP Edinburgh.
Dir.: Gianluca De Serio & Massimiliano De Serio.
Prix UIP Sarajevo.
Good Luck Nedim / Sretan Put Nedime.
Dir.: Marko Šantic.
Prix UIP Venezia.
The Making of Parts.
Dir.: Daniel Elliott.
Prix UIP Drama.
It’s in the Air… / Comme un air…
Dir.: Yohann Gloaguen.
Prix UIP Cork.
Never Like the First Time! / Aldrig som första gången!.
Dir.: Jonas Odell.
European Film Award for Artistic Contribution
Pierre Pell & Stéphane Rozenbaum for Production Design, The Science of Sleep, directed by Michel Gondry.
European Film Academy Critics’ Award - Prix FIPRESCI
Regular Lovers / Les amants réguliers, Philippe Garrel.
European Achievement in World Cinema - Prix Screen International
European Film Academy Lifetime Achievement Award
People’s Choice Award for Best European Film
Adam’s Apples / Adam’s Æbler, Anders Thomas Jensen.
The Elementary Particles / Elementarteilchen, Oskar Roehler.
The Child / L’enfant, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne.
Merry Christmas / Joyeux Noël, Christian Carion.
March of the Penguins / La Marche de l’empereur, Luc Jacquet.
Oliver Twist, Roman Polanski.
Paradise Now, Hany Abu-Assad.
Pride & Prejudice, Joe Wright.
Crime Novel / Romanzo Criminale, Michele Placido.
Something Like Happiness / Stestí, Bohdan Sláma.
* Volver, Pedro Almodóvar.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Steve Box & Nick Park.
European Film Awards website.
European Film Award winners Pedro Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz quotes via Reuters/Adelaide Now.
Images of 2006 European Film Award winners Penélope Cruz, Ulrich Mühe, and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck: Jaczek Turczyk / PAP.
“European Film Award Winners Penélope Cruz & Pedro Almodóvar + Polanski” last updated in January 2019.