Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War was the big winner Saturday night at the 31st annual European Film Awards in Seville, Spain, walking away with five awards, including for best film, director, screenwriter, actress and a technical award announced earlier for editor.
Pawlikowski dedicated his first award of the night to his parents, whose story inspired the black-and-white romantic period drama. Cold War star Joanna Kulig earned best actress honors.
Expectations will now be high for Cold War to follow in the footsteps of Pawlikowski’s previous film, Ida, which went from nabbing five top prizes at the EFAs in 2014 to a foreign-language film Academy Award win two months later. Cold War, which will be released Dec. 21 in the U.S. through Amazon, is representing Poland in the same Oscar category this year.
All of this year’s EFA best film nominees — including Matteo Garrone’s Dogman, Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy as Lazzaro, Lukas Dhont’s Girl and Ali Abbasi’s Border — premiered at Cannes, and all, except Happy as Lazzaro, were nominated to represent their countries in the foreign-language film Oscar category. Dogman beat out Rohrwacher's drama to represent Italy at the Academy Awards.
Other favorites going into Saturday's gala did not walk away empty-handed. Italian actor Marcello Fonte was named best European actor for his turn in Matteo Garrone’s drama Dogman, a performance that also earned him a best actor prize at Cannes this year.
The European Discovery Award — Prix FIPRESCI — went to Girl, whose director Dhont dedicated the prize to star Victor Polster and Nora Monsecour, the young trans girl on which the story is based. Of Polster, whose casting in the film elicited critiques among some in the transgender community because he is himself is not transgender and neither is Dhont, the helmer said, “I knew he was going to do that other person justice” in a performance he said showed that “the biggest power of any artist is empathy.”
Dhont had earlier in the day addressed the critiques of his movie at an EFA-sponsored roundtable on gender equality in film: “I think there’s a very important nuance to be made. Yes, we need stories by women told by women ... and yes, we need trans stories told by trans people. But I see cinema as a bridge, I don’t see it as a wall. I think if we are going to limit ... ourselves to only talk about parts of our own identity, I think we are headed in the wrong direction.”
Read the rest of the story and see a full list of winners here.