The European Film Awards: Beyond Hollywood's blockbusters


Best Actress

German actress Paula Beer has been nominated as Best Actress for her performance in the German-French co-production "Frantz" that already earned her the Best Young Actor award at the 2016 Venice Film Festival (pictured). Competing with Beer are two French stars, namely Isabelle Huppert and Juliette Binoche, as well as Alexandra Borbély from Hungary and Britain's Florence Pugh.


Best Actor

A German speaker is also in the running for Best Actor with Austria's Josef Hader nominated for his performance as German-Jewish writer Stefan Zweig in "Vor der Morgenröte" (Before Dawn). He will have to compete with rivals from four nations — Colin Farrell (Ireland), Jean-Louis Trintignant (France), Claes Bang (Denmark) and Nahuel Pérez Biscayart (Argentina).


The most prestigious trophy: Best Film

Five films are competing for Best Film: "Body and Soul" by Ildikó Enyedi from Hungary (pictured), winner of the Golden Bear at Berlin; "The Other Side of Hope" by Finland's Aki Kaurismäki; "The Square" by Sweden's Ruben Östlund, which won the 2017 Palme d'Or at Cannes; "Loveless" by Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev; and "120 BPM" by Robin Campillo from France.


A fierce battle

The competition for the Best Film award is likely to be very tough indeed, as the nominees have already received a lot of acclaim elsewhere. "On Body and Soul" was awarded a Golden Bear and "The Other Side of Hope" a Silver Bear at the Berlinale. The Palme d'Or of 2017 went to "The Square" (pictured), whereas "120 BPM" and "Loveless" also received awards at the Cannes Film Festival.


Best Comedy includes a German nomination

Like the Golden Globes, the European Film Awards distinguish between dramas and comedies. Four works have been nominated in the comedy section: "Willkommen bei den Hartmanns" (Welcome to the Hartmanns) from Germany (picture), "King of Belgians" and "Vincent" from Belgium, as well as "The Square," nominated both in the drama and comedy categories.


Best Comedy includes a German nomination

Like the Golden Globes, the European Film Awards distinguish between dramas and comedies. Four works have been nominated in the comedy section: "Willkommen bei den Hartmanns" (Welcome to the Hartmanns) from Germany (pictured above the ), "King of Belgians" and "Vincent" from Belgium, and "The Square" which has therefore received two nominations in the sections drama and comedy!


Best Screenplay: 5 competitors

There's also a European Film Award in the category Best Screenplay. Three nominees in the category Best Film are among the competitors here: Ildikó Enyedi from Hungary, Ruben Östlund from Sweden and Andrey Zvyagintsev from Russia (together with Oleg Negin). They will be competing with François Ozon from France ("Frantz," pictured) and Yorgos Lanthimos/Efthimis Filippou from Greece.


European director of the year

The category Best Director includes as nominees Aki Kaurismäki (pictured here with a Silver Bear), Hungarian filmmaker Enyedi, Swedish director Östlund, Russian director Zvyagintsev, as well as Greek director Lanthimos.


Best Debut Film

Nominated in the Best Debut Film category are: "Lady Macbeth" (picture) by William Oldroyd from Britain, "Petit Paysan" (Little farmer) by Hubert Charuel from France, the Bulgarian-Danish-French co-production "Godless" by Ralitza Petrova, "Summer 1993" by Catalan filmmaker Carla Simón and "The Eremites" a German drama by Italian-born director Ronny Trocker.


Best Documentary

The five films nominated in the category Best Documentary are the Ukrainian-German co-production "Austerlitz" by Sergei Loznitsa (picture), "Komunia" by Anna Zamecka from Poland, the Spanish-Icelandic-US co-production "La Chana" by Lucija Stojevic, "Stranger in Paradise" by Guido Hendrikx from the Netherlands and "The Good Postman" by Tonislav Hristov from Bulgaria.


Animated Europe

Four films have been nominated in the category Best Animated Film: "Ethel & Ernest" by Roger Mainwood (picture), "Louise by the Shore" by French director Jean-Francois Laguionie, the French-Belgian film "Zombillénium" by Arthur and Alexis Ducord, as well as the Polish-British co-production "Loving Vincent" by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman.


Outstanding achievement: Julie Delpy

French-American actress Julie Delpy already knows she'll be getting an award this year, as the recipient of the 2017 Achievement in World Cinema Award. Born in Paris, Delpy moved to Los Angeles to perform in both European and American films.


Life Achievement Award for Alexander Sokurov

Russian film director Alexander Sokurov will also be honored on Saturday, with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Born in 1951 in Siberia, the director is seen as one of Russia's most significant filmmakers. Since the late 1970s, Sokurov has made films that are often quite unconventional or even experimental. They were often German co-productions as well.

The European Film Awards will be awarded on Saturday in Berlin. It's Europe's counterpart to the Oscars. So why aren't people more excited about the event?

Why does the European film industry lack self-confidence? Why aren't the European Film Awards covered by Europe's own media with as much enthusiasm as the Oscars? 

The European Film Awards were created 30 years ago to honor the continent's own productions. 

What hasn't changed much since, however, is the public's interest for the event, even though it applies the Academy Awards' model, with nominations announced ahead of the awards ceremony and stars walking down the red carpet.

Read more: Opinion: Why the European Film Awards deserve more recognition

Disadvantaging factors

So why is the European Film Award, formerly called the Felix, still the unknown brother of the Oscar? There are several factors explaining this. 

The Oscars were created 1929, while the Euro-Oscar only appeared in 1988. The Academy Awards ceremony has a permanent home in Hollywood, whereas the location of the European Film Awards gala keeps on changing. 

Europäischer Filmpreis 2016 Breslau - Maren Ade

German filmmaker Maren Ade with her film "Toni Erdmann" was the big winner of 2016

Another factor is language. The Oscars focus on English-language films, with the exception of the Best Foreign Language Film category. The Oscar's European counterpart reflects the linguistic diversity of the European continent, which makes things more complicated.

And, of course, European media play a big role in this regard. There's a lot of publicity for the Oscars before they actually take place. In comparison, TV broadcasters in Europe seem to be rather reluctant to cover the continent's award ceremony. In some countries, there is no live TV coverage of the event, and in others, it's not covered at all, based on the assumption that anyone who's interested can watch the live stream on the European Film Academy's website. That's unfortunate.