Lars von Trier maintains his silence at European Film Awards

Posted by · 10:40 am · December 5th, 2011

Apologies for being a little slow this weekend in getting to the European Film Award results — which Gregory Ellwood listed over on his blog. It was a busy day, and by the time I remembered them, the British Independent Film Awards swallowed up my evening.

Still, it seems we were not the only people with other things on our mind: apparently, most of the major winners couldn’t be bothered to turn up to what this first-hand report suggests was a pretty shoddy ceremony. In the case of Lars von Trier — whose film “Melancholia,” as expected, won the Best European Film award — that was to be expected. Having publicly taken a vow of silence a few months ago in the wake of further official admonishment for his controversial Nazi-related comments at Cannes in May, he proved as good as his word, sending his wife to collect the award on his behalf. Lucky woman.

That wasn’t the only way in which the EFA ceremony recalled the von Trier Cannes fracas. In a bit of irony so delicious it’s tempting to suspect someone of rigging the vote, the difficult Dane lost the Best Director award to his compatriot Susanne Bier — the very woman he so pointedly dissed in that fateful press conference. (If your memory has faded, I quote: “I was happy to be a Jew, then I met Susanne Bier and I wasn’t so happy.”) Bier won, of course, for her Oscar-winning film “In a Better World” — not a fraction as well-directed a film as “Melancholia,” for my money, but I can’t help but smile at this particular bit of karmic revenge.

The European Film Awards frequently opt for dull sweeps, so it was interesting to see that “Melancholia” only added two deserved technical trophies (for cinematography and production design) to its big win. Any hopes Kirsten Dunst might have had of becoming the first American performer to win at the EFAs were dashed by the very actress she beat in Cannes: the absent Tilda Swinton, who took her second big award of the week (after the National Board of Review win) for “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” 

Colin Firth (also not present) made it an all-British affair in the acting races, tardily adding yet another trophy to his groaning mantelpiece for “The King’s Speech”; the Oscar-winning film, which opened too late to compete in last year’s ceremony, also took the People’s Choice Award and, rather randomly, the editing prize. As major Oscar players go, it did better than this year’s Best Picture hopeful, “The Artist,” which lost all its bids save for Best Composer — perhaps the Hollywood-set comedy didn’t feel quite European enough for the voters. I imagine Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin have their eyes on other prizes.

Finally, for those looking for further links to the American awards race, Wim Wenders took Best Documentary honors for “Pina” — a choice would have been something of a no-brainer even if Wenders weren’t head of the EFA. Meanwhile, “Chico & Rita,” a film I’m starting to think could well pop up as a surprise inclusion on Oscar nomination morning, won the animation prize. More on these at Awards Campaign.

For more views on movies, awards season and other pursuits, follow @GuyLodge on Twitter.

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