European Film Awards: Michael Haneke Rare Triple Win & Tahar Rahim

Michael Haneke European Film Awards: The White Ribbon is 2nd movie to win top 3Michael Haneke at the European Film Awards. The Munich-born screenwriter-director (March 24, 1942) was the big winner at this year's ceremony, as his psychological/political drama The White Ribbon topped the Best European Film, Best European Director, and Best European Screenwriter categories. Only Matteo Garrone's 2008 mafia drama Gomorrah has also achieved that feat. Four years ago, another Michael Haneke psychological/political drama, Hidden / Caché, won Best Film and Best Director – but it lost in the screenwriting category to the Palestinian political drama Paradise Now.

Another Michael Haneke drama tops European Film Awards: The seeds of Nazism in 'The White Ribbon'

Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon / Das Weiße Band was the big winner at the 2009 European Film Awards, held on Dec. 12 in Bochum, in Germany's Rhein-Ruhr region. A stark drama about mysterious and violent occurrences taking place in a small German town shortly before the outbreak of World War I, The White Ribbon won trophies for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay (also Haneke) – something unusual, as European Film Academy members like to spread their awards around.

In fact, Matteo Garrone's mafia thriller Gomorrah was the first film to take home European Film Awards in all three categories.* In 2005, Michael Haneke's psychological/political drama Hidden / Caché won Best European Film and Best Director, but the Best Screenwriter award went to Hany Abu-Assad and Bero Beyer for Abu-Assad's Palestinian-set political drama Paradise Now.

* Throughout much of the 1990s, the European Film Awards were a downsized version of their earlier (1988–1989) and later (21st century) selves. As a result, some years had no Best Director or Best Screenwriter slots.

See also: List of the 2009 European Film Awards' winners & nominations.

Oscar possibilities?

Germany's submission for the 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, The White Ribbon has also won the Palme d'Or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

Considering that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Best Picture list has been stretched out to include ten nominees, it's possible that The White Ribbon, which opens later this month in Los Angeles, will nab a slot – in addition to potential Best Director and Best Original Screenplay nods. That is, unless the European Film Awards Curse strikes again.

The European Film Awards' Oscar Curse

In the last seven years, only two Best European Film winners have gone on to receive Academy Award nominations: Pedro Almodóvar's Talk to Her in 2002 and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others in 2006.

The former landed nominations in the Best Director and Best Original Screenplay categories (Almodóvar won for his screenplay). The latter was a surprise Best Foreign Language Film winner, beating Guillermo del Toro's far more popular Pan's Labyrinth.

On the other hand, internationally acclaimed productions such as Gomorrah, Hidden, Cristian Mungiu's abortion drama 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days, and Fatih Akin's culture clash drama Head-On were completely ignored by the Academy. Too good for the Oscars, perhaps.

Possibly the downbeat The White Ribbon will be luckier than its predecessors, but with Academy voters (and U.S.-based critics' groups, for that matter) you never know. Up in the Air, Invictus, and The Princess and the Frog probably have a better chance.

Tahar Rahim European Film Awards: Relative newcomer is Best European Actor young hoodlumTahar Rahim at the European Film Awards. With only a couple of minor film roles to his credit (The 9/11 Commission Report, Inside), Tahar Rahim was the year's Best European Actor winner for his performance as a young hoodlum who, while behind bars, must find a safe space in the midst of rival prison factions in Jacques Audiard's hit A Prophet. On TV, Rahim was seen in several episodes of the series La Commune.

Tahar Rahim & absentee Kate Winslet

Best Actor European Film Award winner Tahar Rahim was present at the Bochum ceremony to receive his statuette for his performance as a prison inmate enmeshed with local warring factions in Jacques Audiard's French drama A Prophet.

Best Actress winner Kate Winslet, however, was nowhere to be found in the auditorium. Winslet was the European Film Academy's choice for her portrayal of an illiterate, former Nazi guard who has an affair with a teenager half her age (Best Actor nominee David Kross) in Stephen Daldry's The Reader – which happens to be a 2008 release that earned her an Oscar, a SAG Award, a Golden Globe, and a British Academy Award back in early 2009.

Winslet was present at all four cross-Atlantic ceremonies. But we're now a couple of weeks away from 2010. The Reader and its “awards season” are in the past.

Indeed, Kate Winslet's absence was a reprise of last year's European Film Awards, when another Oscar, SAG Award, Golden Globe, and British Academy Award-winning English actress, Helen Mirren (The Queen), failed to show up to pick up her Best European Actress trophy.

And this perfectly avoidable reduction in star wattage – and resulting reduction in worldwide publicity – is one good reason for the European Film Academy to change their eligibility schedule.

Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Ken Loach: Industry protectionism & Western Sahara

Veteran British filmmaker Ken Loach (Kes, The Wind That Shakes the Barley), who received the European Film Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award, didn't say anything about the Academy'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,” Loach remarked. “Why can't our politicians protect European film?”

As an aside, according to filmmaker Tomm Moore, whose The Secret of Kells was up for the Best Animated Feature award, the night before the European Film Awards ceremony Loach asked audience members at a screening of his 2009 fantasy comedy-drama 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. You can read more about the issue in The Guardian.

'Slumdog Millionaire' strikes back

Even though multiple Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire was old news, director Danny Boyle was in attendance to pick up the People's Choice Award for Best Film. That and Anthony Dod Mantle's Best Cinematography win – also for his work on Lars von Trier's Antichrist – were the only two statuettes the worldwide sleeper hit was handed in Bochum. What a difference 10 months make.

Among the other European Film Award winners were:

  • Jacques-Rémy Girerd and Nora Twomey's Best Animated Feature Mia and the Migoo.
  • Marcel Lozinski's Best Short Film Poste restante.
  • Best European Composer Alberto Iglesias for Broken Embraces.
  • Peter Strickland's Best First Feature Katalin Varga.
  • The sound crew of A Prophet.
Isabelle Huppert European Film Awards: European Achievement in World Cinema is 2-time winnerIsabelle Huppert at the European Film Awards: Among her numerous international wins and nominations, this year's European Achievement in World Cinema recipient has taken home two Best European Actress awards: for Michael Haneke's The Piano Teacher (2001) and, as part of an eight-actress ensemble, for François Ozon's 8 Women (2002). In addition, Isabelle Huppert won a Best Actress César for her portrayal of a psychopath in Claude Chabrol's La Cérémonie. By the way, Huppert's 8 Women co-winners were Catherine Deneuve, Fanny Ardant, Danielle Darrieux, Emmanuelle Béart, Virginie Ledoyen, Ludivine Sagnier, and Firmine Richard.

Fearless Isabelle Huppert

European Achievement in World Cinema recipient Isabelle Huppert – appropriately introduced by veteran filmmaker 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 awards season schedule.

Below you'll find our – somewhat off the mark – 2009 European Film Awards predictions, posted earlier this month.

European Film Awards predictions: Michael Haneke & dark horse nonsense

Early Dec. 12: What movie is going to dominate the 2009 European Film Awards, to be held tonight in Bochum, in Germany's Rhein-Ruhr region?

Three films will be battling it out for both the Best European Film and Best European Director awards:

  • Jacques Audiard's French prison drama A Prophet.
  • Michael Haneke's Austrian-German psycho-political drama The White Ribbon.
  • Danny Boyle's Anglo-Indian-American Bollywoodish Slumdog Millionaire.

All three have already won major awards elsewhere: the first two at Cannes; the third title in Hollywood and Britain.

Will the three favorites end up splitting the vote so that a dark horse will come out victorious? No chance. In these types of races, simplistic theories about dark horses winning because favorites split the vote are both bad math and bad logic. After all, if voters watched all six movies (or any combination of the six) every movie in the running will “split” votes.

In other words, in case Stephen Daldry's The Reader, Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In, or Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank take home the Best European Film/Director awards, that will mean only one thing: the winner, whichever movie it is, was no dark horse to begin with.

Here & now vs. yesteryear movies

Anyhow, of the three favorites – i.e., the three most widely publicized titles – Slumdog Millionaire is the one with less of a chance simply because by now it's de facto yesteryear news.

On the other hand, both The White Ribbon and A Prophet have been submitted for Academy Award consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film category, and it's quite possible that the former will receive Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and/or Best Original Screenplay. In other words, Haneke's and Audiard's dramas are very much of the here and now.


The Best European First Feature race remains a mystery, though Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani's Ajami has been widely praised at the Toronto Film Festival and elsewhere, and has already won the Israeli Academy's Best Picture award. It's also Israel's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Admittedly, in spite of being a Best Documentary Feature Oscar semifinalist, Agnès Varda's The Beaches of Agnès lost the European Film Award (announced a while back) to Peter Liechti's The Sound of Insects: Record of a Mummy. But bear in mind that a small jury panel selected the year's Best European Documentary; a much larger body – something that generally leads to well-known, well-regarded, “safe” winners – will be choosing the Best First Feature.

Charlotte Gainsbourg Antichrist: European Film Awards Best Actress winner?Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist. The most likely winner of this year's Best European Actress award is Charlotte Gainsbourg for her performance as a grieving mother in Lars von Trier's dark psychological drama Antichrist. The London-born daughter of singer/composer/director Serge Gainsbourg and actress/singer Jane Birkin, Charlotte Gainsbourg has won two Prix César: Most Promising Actress for An Impudent Girl (1985) and Best Supporting Actress for La bûche (1999). Update: The European Film Awards' eventual Best Actress winner was Kate Winslet for her illiterate “mass murderer” in Stephen Daldry's 2008 drama The Reader.

European Film Awards: Best Actress Charlotte Gainsbourg?

In the Best European Actress category, Penélope Cruz has already won – for Volver in 2006. And since she has a borderline supporting role in Broken Embraces, acclaimed Cannes winner Charlotte Gainsbourg should be the one taking home the award for her bereaved sexed-out mother in Lars von Trier's Antichrist.

But who knows? Oscar winner Kate Winslet (for The Reader) could be the dark horse who splits the vote with the brown one (Katie Jarvis for Fish Tank) so the rainbow-colored equine (French Academy's César winner Yolande Moreau in Séraphine) can win.

Tahar Rahim vs. Filippo Timi

For the Best European Actor award, the race is between two Cannes favorites: Tahar Rahim for his tough inmate in A Prophet and Filippo Timi for two roles – Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and his son in Marco Bellocchio's Vincere.

Both actors have received much more acclaim than David Kross (The Reader) or Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire). As for Moritz Bleibtreu, he is a respected performer – but as some would say, The Baader Meinhof Complex is so 2008.

Best European Screenwriter Michael Haneke

If The White Ribbon doesn't win the Best European Film and Best European Director awards, expect Michael Haneke to be named Best European Screenwriter.

If A Prophet doesn't win the Best European Film and Best European Director awards, expect Jacques Audiard and co-screenwriter Thomas Bidegain to be named Best European Screenwriters.

Unlike the Hollywood Academy voters, European Academy members like to spread their love around. In the last five years, only one film managed to win all three awards: Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah in 2008.

A few more predictions

The 2009 European Film Awards' Best Animated Feature?

Tomm Moore's The Secret of Kells, one of the 2010 Best Animated Feature Academy Award semifinalists.

Best European Cinematographer?

A hard call, but the award should end up in the hands of Oscar winner Anthony Dod Mantle for this year's Antichrist and last year's Slumdog Millionaire.

Best European Composer?

Alberto Iglesias for Broken Embraces, if only to give some recognition to Pedro Almodóvar's film.


Michael Haneke, Tahar Rahim, and Isabelle Huppert European Film Awards images: © Guido Ohlenbostel / European Film Academy.

Charlotte Gainsbourg Antichrist image: Zentropa Entertainment / Nordisk Film Distribution.

“European Film Awards: Michael Haneke Rare Triple Win & Tahar Rahim” last updated in April 2018.

European Film Awards: Michael Haneke Rare Triple Win & Tahar Rahim © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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