Pedro Almodóvar's Volver, about the relationship between two young women and the ghost of their dead mother, and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's Das Leben der Anderen / The Lives of Others, which follows a Stasi spy who begins to question his loyalty to the Communist party, are the two top contenders for this year's European Film Awards.
Each film received 6 nominations (the European Awards have a mere 7 core categories listed this year), including Best European Film, Best Director, Best Actress (Penélope Cruz and Martina Gedeck, respectively), and Best Screenplay (Almodóvar and von Donnersmarck, respectively).
Other top contenders include Ken Loach's 2006 Cannes Film Festival winner The Wind That Shakes the Barley, a war drama starring Best Actor nominee Cillian Murphy (also nominated for Neil Jordan's injustice tale Breakfast on Pluto, which is also in the running for a Best Film award) and Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross' docudrama The Road to Guantanamo, about three young Englishmen of Pakistani descent who are incarcerated and tortured at the “American Gulag.”
And finally, Jasmila Zbanic's family drama Grbavica, which depicts the lingering effects of the Bosnian War in the lives of a young woman and her mother when both face the truth about the identity of the girl's father. The film won the Golden Bear at this year's Berlin Film Festival.
With the exception of Volver – the likely winner in the Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography (José Luis Alcaine) and Best Composer (Alberto Iglesias) categories – all other Best Film nominees are dramas with a large dose of political commentary.
The large majority of the nominees are Western European productions or co-productions, mainly from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, and Denmark. In fact, films mostly spoken in English (including the Spanish-made La Vida secreta de las palabras), German, and Danish account for 21 of the 36 nominations in the 7 core categories.
Cruz is the odds-on favorite for the Best European Actress award, though she has strong competition from the French Academy's César winner Nathalie Baye, as a recovering alcoholic police officer in Le Petit Lieutenant, and Berlin winner Sandra Hüller, as a woman who is presumably possessed by the devil in Requiem. (One surprise European Actress nominee was Toronto-born Sarah Polley, for La Vida secreta de las palabras / The Secret Life of Words.)
The Best Actor trophy will probably go to either Cillian Murphy chameleon-like abilities – a dreamy transvestite cabaret singer in Breakfast on Pluto; a fighting Irish rebel in The Wind That Shakes the Barley – or Ulrich Mühe, for his conflicted spy in Das Leben der Anderen. Mühe may have an edge for being older, on top of the fact that, as a renowned East German stage star, he himself was a victim of the Stasi spying apparatus.
(Strangely, the European Awards have no “supporting actor/actress” category.)
French-born, Polish-raised producer-director-writer Roman Polanski will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and British producer Jeremy Thomas will be honored with the Prix Screen International for “European Achievement in World Cinema.”
Several other ancillary categories, including Best Non-European Film and the People's Choice Awards will be announced in the coming weeks.
And in case you were wondering: Neither The Queen nor The Last King of Scotland were eligible for this year's European Film Awards, for they opened in the fall. See below a couple of the European Film Academy's film eligibility rules:
“In the 20 (twenty) European countries with the highest number of EFA members (as of 15th March 2006), these members vote directly for one film from among the national feature films released in their country between July 2005 and April/May 2006. The film having received the highest number of votes in each of these countries will automatically be included in the selection of films, provided it corresponds to the regulations of the European Film Awards”
“The selection of the app 20 remaining films is made by a committee composed of members of the EFA Board and a group of experts appointed by the Board. These remaining films are selected from proposals submitted before 15th June by European film institutions, festivals, trade magazines, media partners, members of the European Film Academy and producers of European films.”
(Here's wondering if movies that open in June fall into some sort of European Film Academy black hole, thus becoming ineligible for the awards.)
The nominations were announced at the Seville Film Festival on Nov. 4.
AFI FEST Award Winners: Bosnian War/Mother-Daughter Drama Top
The AFI FEST 2006 jury prize for Best Film was given to Jasmila Zbanic's Grbavica (Austria / Bosnia and Herzegovina / Croatia / Germany), the story of a Bosnian mother (an outstanding Mirjana Karanovic) who must confront her nightmarish past after her pre-teen daughter starts demanding answers about her dead war-hero father.
Grbavica, Bosnia and Herzegovina's submission for the upcoming Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, will be released in the United States in mid-February, probably to garner some Oscar publicity. Indeed, Zbanic's film will in all likelihood get an Oscar nod. It has already won a Golden Bear at this year's Berlin Film Festival, and it is a story of undying mother love – exactly the sort of human drama that Academy voters appreciate.
Incidentally, Grbavica also happens to be a sober, touching, carefully directed, and superbly acted motion picture. It is so effective, in fact, that it has been banned in Republika Srpska, where Bosnian Serb leaders insist – despite all evidence to the contrary – that no crimes against humanity were committed during Bosnia's civil war.
The festival's Audience Award for Best Film went to Fredi M. Murer's Vitus (Switzerland), about a young piano prodigy who, abetted by his grandfather (Bruno Ganz), does his best to break the ties that bind him to the music world.
Unfortunately, I missed Vitus, but as Switzerland's entry for the Oscars, Vitus is another film with the requisite plot points that make Academy members' hearts flutter. (Foreign-Language Film Academy voters have a perverse bias for films about suffering little boys.)
Mark Verkerk's Buddha's Lost Children was the jury's choice for Best Documentary. Verkerk's film follows a Buddhist monk as he takes to his monastery destitute children from Thailand's Golden Triangle region. Once there, the children leave their past behind as they are indoctrinated with Buddhist philosophy.
Two films tied for the Audience Award for Best Documentary: Carla Garapedian's Screamers (UK) and Lucy Walker's Blindsight (UK).
Screamers follows the rock band System of a Down as they try to make the world – Turkey, in particular – acknowledge the 1915 Armenian genocide, the first of a series of mass murders that took place in the 20th century. Blindsight shows how Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to climb Mt. Everest, leads six blind Tibetan teenagers up the tallest mountain on Earth.
Stefanie Berk's Disappearing (U.S.) won the jury prize for Best Short, while Michael Dreher's Fair Trade (Germany / Morocco) took the Audience Award in that category. As per the AFI synopsis, Disappearing “depicts one woman's transformation that begins simply by learning to swim.” Fair Trade uses the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Europe from Africa, as a symbol of the rich vs. poor gap.
The festival came to a close at 7:30 p.m. at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, with a screening of Zhang Yimou's Curse of the Golden Flower, Chinas submission for the next Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. The martial-arts costume drama, which stars Chow Yun-Fat, Taiwanese pop singer Jay Chou, and Zhangs old muse, Gong Li, portrays assorted intrigues plaguing one of Chinas highly dysfunctional imperial families.
Best Animation Oscar Contenders
Press Release: Beverly Hills, CA – With 16 animated features submitted for consideration in 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences anticipates that its Animated Feature Film category, for the first time since 2002, may include a full slate of five nominees.
The 16 features expected to compete for 79th Academy Awards nominations are:
The Ant Bully
Arthur and the Invisibles
Ice Age The Meltdown
Over the Hedge
A Scanner Darkly
Arthur and the Invisibles, Happy Feet and Paprika have not yet had their required Los Angeles releases. If any one of the group were not to meet that requirement, the field in the category would fall below 16, the number required to trigger the five-nominee slate. With 15 or fewer contenders, Academy rules allow a maximum of three nominated features.
Films submitted in the Animated Feature category also may qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they meet the requirements for those categories.
Nominations for the 79th Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 23, 2007, at 5:30 a.m. PST in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2006 will be presented on Sunday, February 25, 2007, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network at 5 p.m. PST, beginning with a half-hour arrival segment.
Leeds Film Festival winners
The 20th Leeds International Film Festival was held between Nov. 2–12.
The 20th Leeds International Film Festival's Golden Owl winner for best feature film was Guillaume Malandrin's Ça m'est égal si demain n'arrive pas / I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes, a Belgian drama about an ex-con (co-screenwriter Jacky Lambert) who decides to take his son (Robin Weerts), now living with another family, on a vacation trip.
Special mention was given to Mohamed Al Daradji's British-Dutch-Iraqi co-production Ahlaam / The Dreams. Reportedly based on true events, Ahlaam portrays the events leading up to, and the aftermath of, the 2003 invasion of Iraq as seen through the eyes of the occupants of a mental hospital in Baghdad.
The Golden Owl Award
Winner: Ça m'est égal si demain n'arrive pas / I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes (Dir. Guillaume Malandrin, Belgium)
Special Mention: Ahlaam / The Dreams (Dir. Mohamed Al Daradji, UK / Iraq / Netherlands)
Louis Le Prince International Short Film Competition
Winner: Bhai Bhai (Dir. Olivier Klein, France)
Special Mention: Eût-elle été criminelle… / Even If She Had Been a Criminal (Dir. Jean-Gabriel Périot, France)
World Animation Award
Winner: Dream and Desires: Family Ties (Dir. Joanna Quinn, UK)
Special Mention: Never Like the First Time (Dir. Jonas Odell, Sweden)
Special Mention: Maestro (Dir. Geza M. Toth, Hungary)
Silver Méliès Award
Feature Film: Isolation (Dir. Billy O'Brien, Ireland / UK)
Short Film: Home Video (Dir. Ed Boase, UK)
This award is part of the European Federation of Fantastic Film Festivals and the winners will go on to compete for the Golden Méliès at the Lund International Fantastic Film Festival on 16th September 2007.
Yorkshire Short Film Award
Private Life (Dir. Abbe Robinson, UK)
Golden Owl Jury: Jono Stevens - co-founder of Diffusion Pictures, a new independent UK film distribution company; Matt Bochenski – Editor of national movie magazine Little White Lies; Miguel Kohan - Director
Jury for the Louis Le Prince Short Film Award and the World Animation Award: Nic Wistreich - co-founder and publisher of Netribution.co.uk; Michael Lynch - Course Leader and Senior Lecturer in Screenwriting at Southampton Solent University; Dr. Ian Macdonald - Research Director, Louis Le Prince Centre for Cinema, Photography and Television, University of Leeds
Silver Méliès Award Jury: Chris Smith – Director of Creep & Severance; Nigel Floyd - Journalist; Harvey Fenton – Founder of FAB Press
Yorkshire Short Film Award Jury: Amy Hughes – Editor of Northern Exposure and Arts Editor of The Leeds Guide; Ian McMillan – Poet and Broadcaster; David Browne - Secretary of the Royal Television Society Yorkshire Centre
São Paulo Film Festival winners
The Best Film Award went to a Brazilian production, O Cheiro do Ralo / Drained, which will be screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.
Other winners include Francisco Vargass Mexican drama El Violin / The Violin, which received the Special Jury Prize; Best Actor Adel Imam, playing one of the residents of Cairos Omaret yakobean / The Yacoubian Building; and Best Actress Maria Lundqvist for Klaus Härös Finnish-Swedish drama Äideistä parhain / Mother of Mine.
2006 São Paulo Film Festival Awards: November 2, 2006
Best Film / Melhor Filme: O Cheiro do Ralo / Drained, by Heitor Dhalia (Brazil)
Special Jury Prize / Prêmio Especial do Júri: El Violin / The Violin, by Francisco Vargas (Mexico), with a special mention for actor Don Angel Tavira
Best Actor / Melhor Ator: Adel Imam for Omaret yakobean / The Yacoubian Building (Egypt)
Best Actress / Melhor Atriz: Maria Lundqvist for Äideistä parhain / Mother of Mine (Finland)
Special Mention / Menção Honrosa (for its visual qualities): O Ano em que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias / The Year My Parents Went Away on Vacation, by Cao Hamburger (Brazil)
Best Foreign Narrative Feature / Melhor Longa Estrangeiro de Ficção: Rosso come il cielo / Red as the Sky, by Cristiano Bortone (Italy)
Best Foreign Documentary / Melhor Documentário Estrangeiro: An Inconvenient Truth, by Davis Guggenheim (U.S.)
Best Brazilian Medium-Length Film / Melhor Média Brasileiro: Deus e o Diabo em Cima da Muralha / God and the Devil Atop the Wall, by Tocha Alves and Daniel Lieff
Best Foreign Medium-Length Film / Melhor Média Estrangeiro: Jana Sanskriti, un théâtre en campagne / Jana Sanskriti, a Theater on the Field, by Jeanne Dosse (France)
Best Brazilian Short / Melhor Curta Brasileiro: Primeira Vez / First Time, by Fabrício Bittar
Best Foreign Short / Melhor Curta Estrangeiro: I Want to Be a Pilot, by Diego Quemada-Diez (Kenya / Mexico / Spain)
Best International Film: Hamaca Paraguaya, by Paz Encina (Paraguay / France / Argentina / The Netherlands)
Best Brazilian Film: O Cheiro do Ralo / Drained, by Heitor Dhalia
Petrobras Award for Best Brazilian Narrative Feature / Prêmio Petrobras Cultural de Difusão Melhor Longa Brasileiro de Ficção (tie): Antonia, by Tata Amaral and O Ano em que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias / The Year My Parents Went Away on Vacation, by Cao Hamburger
Petrobras Award for Best Brazilian Documentary / Prêmio Petrobras Cultural de Difusão Melhor Documentário Brasileiro: Fabricando Tom Zé / Manufacturing Tom Zé, by Décio Matos Jr.
Youth Award / Prêmio da Juventude: Äideistä parhain / Mother of Mine, by Klaus Harö (Finland)
Humanity Award / Prêmio Humanidade: Italian filmmaker Vittorio De Seta, director of Banditi a Orgosolo / Bandits at Orgosolo (1960) e Lettere dal Sahara / Letters from the Sahara (2006)
2006 BAFTA Scotland Awards
The 2006 BAFTA Scotland (or Scottish Bafta) award winners were announced in Glasgow on November 12, 2006.
In Andrea Arnolds suspense drama Red Road, Glasgow-based surveillance camera operator (Kate Dickie) tries to find an ex-con (Tony Curran) for mysterious reasons. Arnold also won a BAFTA for most promising director, while both Dickie and Curran were honored at the British Independent Film Awards.
THE FLYING SCOTSMAN, Directed by Douglas MacKinnon; Produced by Sara Giles, Peter Gallagher & Peter Broughan
* RED ROAD, Directed by Andrea Arnold; Produced by Carrie Comerford
TRUE NORTH, Directed by Steve Hudson; Produced by Eddie Dick, David Collins, Benjamina Mirnik & Sonja Ewers
* ANDREA ARNOLD for RED ROAD
STEVE HUDSON for TRUE NORTH
DOUGLAS MACKINNON for THE FLYING SCOTSMAN
BEST ACTOR IN A SCOTTISH FILM
MARTIN COMPSTON for TRUE NORTH
* TONY CURRAN for RED ROAD
JOHNNY LEE MILLER for THE FLYING SCOTSMAN
BEST ACTRESS IN A SCOTTISH FILM
* KATE DICKIE for RED ROAD
LAURA FRASER for THE FLYING SCOTSMAN
* Andrea Arnold for RED ROAD
Steve Hudson for TRUE NORTH
John Brown, Declan Hughes & Simon Rose for THE FLYING SCOTSMAN
THE ROBERT McCANN AWARD FOR CRAFT
ANDY HARRIS, Production Designer
* FETCH, Directed by Dana Dorian; Produced by Sam McCarthy
HYPERBOY JUSTICE GO, Directed by Andrew Shikada; Produced by Andrew Shikada
METALOSIS MALIGNA, Directed by Floris Kaayk; Produced by Edinburgh College of Art
THE RUSSELL HUNTER AWARD FOR BEST SHORT FILM
LAID OFF, Directed by Zam Salim; Produced by Zam Salim
* TRACKS, Directed by Martin Smith; Produced by Karen Smyth
TROUT, Directed by Johnny Barrington; Produced by Anna Duffield
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM: Janet McBain, Curator of the Scottish Screen Archive
* LOW WINTER SUN, Tiger Aspect Productions for Channel 4
REBUS, SMG Productions for STV
RIVER CITY, BBC Scotland
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROONS, Angel Eye Media for BBC Scotland
* ROOT OF ALL EVIL THE VIRUS OF FAITH, IWC Media for Channel 4
SHERIFF COURT, Lion Television for BBC Scotland
BEST NEWS & CURRENT AFFAIRS
* FRONTLINE SCOTLAND ARLENE FRASER MURDER TRIAL: THE MISSING EVIDENCE, BBC Scotland
SCOTLAND TODAY, STV
SEX, LIES AND SOCIALISM THE TOMMY SHERIDAN TRIAL, BBC Scotland
* MY CHILDHOOD JOHN LESLIE, Endemol Scotland for BBC Scotland
NAZI HATE ROCK, SMG Productions for Five
YOU CANT FIRE ME, IM FAMOUS OZZY OSBOURNE, Endemol Scotland for BBC Scotland
BRUCE GOES DANCING, True TV for BBC Scotland
* DEAR GREEN PLACE, Effingee Productions for BBC Scotland
MECHANNIBALS, IWC Media for BBC Scotland
The KNTV SHOW SAY NO TO POTATO, Tern Television Productions Ltd for Channel 4
RAVEN, BBC Scotland
* UNCLE DAD, SMG Productions for STV
BARRY JONES & STUART MACLEOD for Tricks From The Bible, Objective Productions for Channel 4
* PAUL RILEY for Still Game, Effingee Productions & The Comedy Unit for BBC Scotland
THE LLOYDS TSB SCOTLAND AWARD FOR THE MOST POPULAR TELEVISION PROGRAM
Chewin the Fat
Location, Location, Location
Scotland on Film
* Still Game
SPECIAL CONTRIBUTION TO SCOTTISH BROADCASTING: TAGGART
NEW TALENT AWARDS
BEST NEW WORK
THE BIG FOREVER, Directed by Robert Glassford & Timo Langer; Produced By Robert Glassford & Timo Langer
FRITZ, Directed by Jamie Stone; Produced by Siri Rodnes, Bryony Day and Jamie Stone
* HIKIKOMORI, Directed by Paul Wright; Produced by Karley Duffy
BEST FIRST TIME DIRECTOR
WILLIAM ANDREWS for TANK COMMANDER
HAZEL BAILLIE, for THE TRUTH ABOUT TOOTH
* YULIA MAHR for DROWNING
BEST NEW SCREENPLAY
* Simon Grohe for RUN, TONY RUN!
Yulia Mahr for DROWNING
Paul Wright for HIKIKOMORI
BEST FIRST TIME PERFORMANCE
* BRYAN LARKIN for SCENE
FARREN MORGAN for HIKIKOMORI
SAMANTHA YOUNG for MONO
BEST INTERACTIVE MEDIA
Alison Clifford, THE SWEET OLD ETCETERA
Paul Shafi, Universis Technology Ltd., DINOSAUR CHESS: LEARN TO PLAY!
* Kenny Shaw, Ryan Kidd & Duich Mackay, Screenmedia, MY SUST HOUSE