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What’s European? Is Best British Film winner ‘Euro’ Enough?

What's European? The Constant Gardener Rachel Weisz Ralph Fiennes: British + Euro enough?
What’s “European”? The Constant Gardener with Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes. Directed by Oscar-nominated Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles (City of God, 2003) and mostly set in Kenya, The Constant Gardener was partly financed with British money; it was written by Englishman Jeffrey Caine, adapting a 2001 novel written by another Englishman, John le Carré; and it stars English performers Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz. Yet the European Film Academy has decided that The Constant Gardener should be in competition for the Prix Screen International – i.e., the category reserved for non-European movies. Ironically, the British Independent Film Awards has just named The Constant Gardener the Best British Film of the year. So, what’s “European”?

What’s ‘European’? European Film Academy announces Prix Screen International nominees

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

What’s “European”?

Don’t expect to get a clear answer from the European Film Academy, which has announced its list of non-European films nominated for the 2005 Prix Screen International.

Strangely, several European co-productions can be found on the list, most notably Fernando Meirelles’ The Constant Gardener – a sociopolitical-romantic drama that looks, sounds, and tastes British.

After all, though directed by a Brazilian national and mostly set in Kenya, The Constant Gardener – written and produced by, and starring English talent – is certainly no less European than Best European Film nominee Don’t Come Knocking, which, though directed by the German Wim Wenders, is set in the United States, has as its basis a screenplay by the American Sam Shepard, and stars a mostly non-European cast led by Shepard and Minnesotan Jessica Lange.

‘European’ vs. ‘Non-European’

It might be a good idea for the European Film Academy to – pardon the expletive – globalize its nomination process, as their picks for who/what is “European” and who/what isn’t can become both labyrinthine and contradictory.

Additionally, a truly international awards ceremony based in Europe could turn out to be the sort of strong competitor the U.S.-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences needs; one that just might help to put an end to the Oscars’ awards season supremacy and, who knows, the Academy’s artistically challenged, Hollywood-dominated choices.

In any case, the 11 “non-European” nominees (six of them English-language productions) for the 2005 Prix Screen International are:

  • Battle in Heaven / Batalla en el cielo, Carlos Reygadas (Mexico / France / Germany / Belgium).
  • Be with Me, Eric Khoo (Singapore).
  • Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee (USA).
  • Broken Flowers, Jim Jarmusch (USA).
  • The Constant Gardener, Fernando Meirelles (U.K. / Germany / USA / Kenya).
  • Crash, Paul Haggis (USA).
  • C.R.A.Z.Y., Jean-Marc Vallée (Canada).
  • Good Night and Good Luck., George Clooney (USA).
  • Look Both Ways, Sarah Watt (Australia).
  • Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Park Chan-wook (South Korea).
  • Tsotsi, Gavin Hood (U.K. / South Africa).

Lastly, would anyone not consider Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, Max Ophüls’ Letter from an Unknown Woman, Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day American productions simply because they were directed by Europeans?

The Prix Screen International winner will be announced at the European Film Awards ceremony on Dec. 3 in Berlin.

‘The Constant Gardener’ tops British Independent Film Awards

From “What’s European?” to Certifiably British: Fernando Meirelles’ aforementioned non-European yet British drama The Constant Gardener was the big winner at the 2005 British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), held on Nov. 30 at the Hammersmith Palais in London.

Besides being named Best British Film, The Constant Gardener earned Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz Best Actor and Best Actress honors for their portrayal of a British couple – he’s a somewhat timid low-level diplomat, she’s a resolute social activist – who become enmeshed in Big Pharma’s deadly dirty deals in Africa.

Expect to see/hear more of The Constant Gardener this awards season.

Horror thriller wins Best Director

Instead of Fernando Meirelles, Neil Marshall topped the Best Director category for the horror thriller The Descent, the story of a group of cavers trapped by a rockfall in a dark, creepy cavern inhabited by unneighborly humanoid creatures.

BIFA’s Best Screenplay winner was Frank Cotrell Boyce for the Danny Boyle-directed comedy-drama Millions, based on Boyce’s own children’s novel. Alex Etel, James Nesbitt, and Daisy Donovan star.

The Best Supporting Performance (male or female) award went to Rosamund Pike for Laurence Dunmore’s period drama The Libertine, in which she plays the wife of the sensualistic title character (played by Johnny Depp).

The Best Foreign Film was Oliver Hirschbiegel’s historical drama Downfall / Der Untergang, a depiction of the psychotic last days of Adolf Hitler (played by veteran Bruno Ganz). The costly and controversial (and commercially successful) German production beat three American films – Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers, Paul Haggis’ Crash, and Nicole Kassell’s London Film Festival-winning child molester drama The Woodsman – plus Jonathan Jakubowicz’s Venezuelan crime drama Secuestro Express.

See full list of BIFA winners and nominees further below.

The Squid and the Whale Jeff Daniels Laura Linney: Best Ensemble CastThe Squid and the Whale with Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney. Brooklyn-based couple gets a divorce and then have to deal with their troubled sons (12-year-old Owen Kline [real-life son of Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates], teenager Jesse Eisenberg) in Noah Baumbach’s enthusiastically received dramatic comedy The Squid and the Whale, winner of the Gotham Awards’ Best Ensemble. Also in the cast: William Baldwin and Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Anna Paquin (The Piano, 1993).

Gotham Awards: Truman Capote + dysfunctional Brooklyn family

Across the North Atlantic, Bennett Miller’s real-life-inspired psychological drama Capote was named Best Picture and earned Miller Breakthrough Director honors at the New York City-based, U.S.-indie-focused Gotham Awards, also held on Nov. 30.

Capote depicts writer Truman Capote’s increasingly personal involvement while doing research for his book In Cold Blood, about two men convicted of murdering a rural Kansas family. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Capote; Catherine Keener is Capote friend and To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee.

Other Gotham Award winners include Henry-Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro’s documentary Murderball, about physically disabled wheelchair-rugby players; the cast of Noah Baumbach’s Brooklyn-set, dysfunctional family comedy-drama The Squid and the Whale, starring Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney; and Amy Adams, selected as the year’s breakthrough performer for her work in Phil Morrison’s Sundance hit Junebug.

Something the Lord Made and The Closer actress Kyra Sedgwick hosted this year’s Gotham Awards ceremony.

See below the full list of winners and partial list of nominees at the British Independent Film Awards and the Gotham Awards.

British Independent Film Awards

British Film
A Cock & Bull Story.
* The Constant Gardener.
The Descent.
The Libertine.
Mrs. Henderson Presents.

Foreign Film
Broken Flowers (U.S.).
Crash (U.S.).
* Downfall (Germany).
Secuestro Express (Venezuela).
The Woodsman (U.S.).

Michael Winterbottom, A Cock & Bull Story.
Fernando Meirelles, The Constant Gardener.
* Neil Marshall, The Descent.
Laurence Dunmore, The Libertine.
Stephen Frears, Mrs. Henderson Presents.

* Ralph Fiennes, The Constant Gardener.
Matthew Macfadyen, In My Father’s Den.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kinky Boots.
Johnny Depp, The Libertine.
Bob Hoskins, Mrs. Henderson Presents.

Natasha Richardson, Asylum.
* Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener.
Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents.
Emily Watson, <Wah-Wah.
Joan Allen, Yes.

Supporting Actress/Actor
Rob Brydon, A Cock & Bull Story.
Bill Nighy, The Constant Gardener.
* Rosamund Pike, The Libertine.
Tom Hollander, The Libertine.
Kelly Reilly, Mrs. Henderson Presents.

Most Promising Newcomer
Thelma Barlow, Mrs. Henderson Presents.
Alex Nathan Etel, Millions.
* Emily Barclay, In My Father’s Den.
Samina Awan, Love + Hate.
Rupert Friend, The Libertine.

Best Screenplay
Martin Hardy, A Cock & Bull Story.
Jeffrey Caine, The Constant Gardener.
Geoff Deane & Tim Firth, Kinky Boots.
* Frank Cotrell Boyce, Millions.
Martin Sherman, Mrs. Henderson Presents.

Debut Director – Douglas Hickox Award: Annie Griffin, Festival.

Documentary: The Liberace of Baghdad.

Technical Achievement: Jon Harris – Editing, The Descent.

Achievement in Production: Gypo.

Short Film: Six Shooter.

Raindance Award: Evil Aliens.

U.K. Personality of the Year: Keira Knightley for Pride & Prejudice, The Jacket, Domino.

Richard Harris Award: Tilda Swinton.

Special Jury Award: Sandy Liebersen.

Gotham Awards

Brokeback Mountain.
* Capote.
A History of Violence.
Me and You and Everyone We Know.

Ballets Russes.
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.
Grizzly Man.
* Murderball.
William Eggleston in the Real World.

Breakthrough Director
Miranda July, Me and You and Everyone We Know.
* Bennett Miller, Capote.
Phil Morrison, Junebug.
Andrew Wagner, The Talent Given Us.
Alice Wu, Saving Face.

Breakthrough Actor
* Amy Adams, Junebug.
Camilla Belle, The Ballad of Jack and Rose.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mysterious Skin.
Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow.
Damian Lewis, Keane.

Ensemble Cast (partial list of actors)
Brokeback MountainHeath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway.
CrashSandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe.
Good Night and Good Luck. – David Strathairn, Patricia Clarkson, George Clooney, Jeff Daniels, Frank Langella.
Nine Lives – Kathy Baker, Glenn Close, Stephen Dillane, Dakota Fanning, Holly Hunter, Jason Isaacs, Mary Kay Place, Aidan Quinn, Amanda Seyfried, Sissy Spacek, Robin Wright.
* The Squid and the Whale – Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney.

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You: I Am a Sex Addict.

“Celebrate New York” Award: Mad Hot Ballroom.

Tributes: Matt Dillon & Jim Jarmusch.

Northeast movie Aymará Rovera Ignacio Jiménez: Mother instincts + child traffickingNortheast movie with Aymará Rovera and Ignacio Jiménez. The Stockholm Film Festival’s Bronze Horse winner for Best Film, Juan Solanas’ family/socially conscious drama Northeast / Nordeste stars Best Actress co-winners Aymará Rovera and Carole Bouquet; the latter happens to be both a former Bond girl (For Your Eyes Only) and a Best Actress Prix César winner (Too Beautiful for You, 1989). Also in the Northeast cast: Ignacio Jiménez and veteran Spanish actress Mercedes Sampietro (Gary Cooper que estás en los cielos; Werther). Newcomer director Solanas is the son of veteran Argentinean filmmaker Fernando E. Solanas (Tangos the Exile of Gardel; South).

Maternal instincts & child trafficking: ‘Northeast’ tops Stockholm Film Festival

The Bronze Horse for Best Film at the 2005 Stockholm Film Festival, which ran Nov. 17–27, was awarded to Juan Solanas’ feature film debut, Northeast / Nordeste.

Tackling social injustices, maternal instincts, and child trafficking, the Argentinean-French-Spanish-Belgian co-production revolves around the meeting of two women from disparate backgrounds: a single mother (Aymará Rovera) from Argentina’s impoverished northeast and an affluent Parisian (Carole Bouquet) recently arrived in Buenos Aires to adopt a child.

Besides its Bronze Horse win, Northeast earned Aymará Rovera and Carole Bouquet a joint Best Actress award.

More Stockholm winners

Among this year’s other Stockholm Film Festival winners are writer-director Annie Griffin’s Scottish dark comedy Festival, which earned the Best Screenplay award, and Best Actor Vincent D’Onofrio for Mike Mills’ U.S.-made dramatic comedy Thumbsucker, which some months ago earned Lou Taylor Pucci – not D’Onofrio – acting honors at both the Berlin and Sundance festivals.

The Best First Film award went to another American production, Miranda July’s romantic comedy-drama Me and You and Everyone We Know. Taika Waititi’s New Zealand-made World War II drama Tamma Tu was chosen Best Short Film.

And finally, veteran Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg (Videodrome, A History of Violence) was given Stockholm’s Lifetime Achievement Award, while American director Terry Gilliam (Brazil, Twelve Monkeys) received the Visionary Award.

Below is a partial list of this year’s Stockholm Film Festival winners.

Stockholm Film Festival winners

Film: Northeast.

Actress: Carole Bouquet & Aymará Rovera, Northeast.

Actor: Vincent D’Onofrio, Thumbsucker.

Screenplay: Festival, Annie Griffin.

First Film: Me and You and Everyone We Know.

Cinematography: Be with Me, Adrian Tan.

Audience Award: Storm, dir.: Måns Mårlind & Björn Stein.

Howl's Moving Castle Hayao Miyazaki: Oscar hopeful + prestigious voice castHowl’s Moving Castle: Best Animated Feature Oscar contender? Numerous big names have lent their voices to this year’s top animated movies. For instance, the English-language voice cast of Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-eligible Howl’s Moving Castle includes Josh Hutcherson, Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, Blythe Danner, Billy Crystal, Jena Malone, and veterans Lauren Bacall (The Big Sleep, Key Largo) and Jean Simmons (Hamlet, Elmer Gantry). Another example: Steve Box and Nick Park’s Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit features the voices of Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Geraldine McEwan, and Peter Sallis.

Academy Awards: Ten animated features in contention

From the Stockholm Film Festival to the Academy Awards: Ten films are eligible to compete in the 2006 Academy Awards’ Best Animated Feature Film category.

The list of contenders was compiled by the executive committee of the Academy’s Short Films and Feature Animation Branch. As per current Academy rules, a maximum of three animated films can be nominated in a year in which the number of eligible entries ranges between eight and sixteen.

Note: Movies that have yet to open in Los Angeles County must fulfill all of the Academy’s general release requirements before the end of the year. The animated films listed below may also qualify for Academy Awards in other categories.

The ten films eligible for the Best Animated Feature Oscar are:

  • Chicken Little.
  • Gulliver’s Travel.
  • Howl’s Moving Castle.
  • Hoodwinked.
  • Madagascar.
  • Robots.
  • Steamboy.
  • Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride.
  • Valiant.
  • Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Fifteen documentary features vying for Oscar recognition

From the Oscars’ animated features to the Oscars’ documentary features: Out of 82 documentary features eligible for the 2006 Academy Awards, the Academy’s Documentary Branch Screening Committee has selected 15 semifinalists. They are:

  • After Innocence.
  • The Boys of Baraka.
  • Darwin’s Nightmare.
  • The Devil and Daniel Johnston.
  • Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.
  • Favela Rising.
  • Mad Hot Ballroom.
  • March of the Penguins / La Marche de l’empereur.
  • Murderball.
  • Occupation: Dreamland.
  • On Native Soil: The Documentary of the 9/11 Commission Report.
  • Rize.
  • Street Fight.
  • 39 Pounds of Love.
  • Unknown White Male.

A second round of voting will narrow the field down to the five official nominees.

Enron corruption & environmental chaos + U.S. injustice system & fearless penguins

The 2006 Best Documentary Feature Oscar semifinalists cover a broad range of topics. A few examples:

  • Jessica Sanders’ After Innocence explains how wrongfully imprisoned men in the United States must, after years in jail, cope on their own with their newly found freedom.
  • Hubert Sauper’s Darwin’s Nightmare shows how the Nile perch may be good for European consumers but bad for Lake Victoria’s environment and the area’s fishermen.
  • Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s Chicago Film Festival winner The Boys of Baraka focuses on a group of disadvantaged American pre-teen boys placed at a Kenyan boarding school for two years.
  • Alex Gibney’s Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room delves into one of the direst government/corporate corruption scandals in U.S. history.
  • Luc Jacquet’s box office smash March of the Penguins tracks the perilous annual journeys – through oceans and lands – of Antarctica’s emperor penguins.

The 2006 Oscar nominations will be announced on Jan. 31 at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The awards ceremony will take place on March 5 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

Los Angeles Latino Film Festival winners

Having begun with the question “What’s European?” this post comes to a close with the question, “What’s Latino/a?”

Whatever your take on the politically motivated U.S.-made label, below is a partial list of winners at the 2005 Los Angeles Latino Film Festival.

The jury’s top choice, Vera Fogwill and Martín De Salvo’s Argentinean comedy-drama Kept and Dreamless / Las Mantenidas sin sueños chronicles the travails of an inept adult woman (co-director Fogwill) and her precociously mature 10-year-old daughter (Lucia Snieg). Also in the cast: Mirta Busnelli, Edda Díaz, Gastón Pauls, Mia Maestro, and Elsa Berenguer.

Film: Kept and Dreamless / Las Mantenidas sin sueños, dir.: Vera Fogwill & Martín De Salvo (Argentina).

Director: Miguel Littin, The Last Moon / La Última luna (Chile).

Screenplay (tie): Habana Blues, Benito Zambrano & Ernesto Chao (Spain / Cuba / France) & Cidade Baixa / Lower City, Sergio Machado & Karim Ainouz (Brazil).

First Film: Kept and Dreamless.

Audience Award (tie): Habana Blues, dir.: Benito Zambrano & The Marriage of Romeo and Julieta / O Casamento de Romeo e Julieta, dir.: Bruno Barreto (Brazil).

Documentary: Winter in Baghdad / Invierno en Bagdad, dir.: Javier Corcuera (Spain).

Gotham Awards website.

British Independent Film Awards website.

Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes The Constant Gardener image: Focus Features.

Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels The Squid and the Whale image: Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Aymará Rovera and Ignacio Jiménez Northeast movie image: Stockholm Film Festival.

Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle image: Walt Disney Studios.

“What’s European? Is Best British Film winner ‘Euro’ Enough? + Cold-Blooded Killers & Child Trafficking” last updated in July 2019.

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