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The Great Beauty wins at European Film Awards

The Great Beauty

Story by Jack Foley

PAOLO Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty has taken the top prize at the 26th European Film Awards.

The Italian drama, a sort-of-update of Federico Fellini’s classic La Dolce Vita, was named best film and also took the best director and actor trophies, for Sorrentino and leading man Toni Servillo.

The film, which premiered in Cannes, is Italy’s candidate for the 2014 best foreign language Oscar.

The Great Beauty features a masterful performance from Servillo as an aging, cynical society reporter cutting his way through Rome’s great and powerful.

Although The Great Beauty emerged as the night’s big winner, there had been no clear favourite entering the ceremony, which paved the way for a few surprises.

The biggest shock came in the best actress category, where Belgian star Veerle Baetens beat the likes of Keira Knightley, Naomi Watts and Barbara Sukowa for her portrayal as a tattooed bluegrass singer in Felix van Groeningen’s sleeper hit The Broken Circle Breakdown.

Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing took the European Documentary prize for its groundbreaking approach in getting members of Indonesian’s death squads to re-enact their mass-killings in the cinematic genres of their choice.

The best animated feature, meanwhile, went to The Congress, from Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman.

One of the night’s biggest highlights came when Oscar-winning Spanish director Pedro Almodovar was presented with the EFA honour for European Achievement in World Cinema.

The prize was presented by Swedish actress Noomi Rapace and saw Almodovar joined on stage by several Spanish actors, including Paz Vega, Javier Camara, Hugo Silva, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Blanca Suarez and Leonor Watling.

The celebrated Spanish director dedicated the prize to his brother and producer Agustin Almodovar Caballero and to the women of his mother’s generation.

The lifetime achievement award went to French icon Catherine Deneuve, who Film Academy president Wim Wenders described as “a goddess, the queen of European cinema… [and] the most beautiful woman on the Earth”.

Another of the night’s surprises came from the fact that French Palme d’Or winner Blue Is The Warmest Colour left empty-handed.

Next awards story: Spike Jonze’s Her named best film by National Board of Review

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