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European Film Awards 2023: France’s ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ wins big

The European Film Academy has awarded Anatomy of a Fall Best European Film of 2023
The European Film Academy has awarded Anatomy of a Fall Best European Film of 2023 Copyright Le Pacte
Copyright Le Pacte
By David MouriquandFrédéric Ponsard
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The best of European cinema has been celebrated across the continent over the past month. And now, the winners of the 36th European Film Awards have been revealed...

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The five films nominated for Best European Film of 2023 are some of the strongest of the year – and not just in Europe.

Jonathan Glazer’s harrowing Holocaust drama The Zone of Interest; Agnieszka Holland’s breath-taking and urgent drama Green Border; Aki Kaurismäki Finnish feelgood love story Fallen Leaves; Justine Triet’s acclaimed French courtroom drama Anatomy of a Fall; and Matteo Garrone’s Io Capitano, which like Green Border, tackled the topic of the refugee crisis on Europe’s borders.

The European Film Awards, which honour the greatest achievements in European cinema, have given their verdict, by awarding their top prize to Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall.

The French film swept everything up, with wins for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actress for Sandra Hüller.

It tells the compelling story of possible Alpine murder which morphs into a captivating courtroom drama, powered by a stellar performance from Hüller.

Triet’s unconventional whodunnit deals with knotty parenthood and the burdens of responsibility in relationships. Especially when the relationship is dissected in public for all to see – something which in turn allows the director to use the judicial system as a springboard to expose entrenched misogynistic prejudices. The lead character, Sandra (Hüller) is not the ideal victim fighting for her innocence to be heard; she speaks matter-of-factly about the imperfection of her relationships, and feels like a fully rounded human being, as opposed to the clichéd figure of the irreproachable martyr fighting for survival.

The ceremony can be seen in the player below: 

Anatomy of a winner

After its Palme d’Or in Cannes this year, the film has gone from strength to strength, finding an audience and increasingly filling up its award shelf.

Indeed, Anatomy of a Fall has steadily been emerging as an awards favourite, having already nabbed Best Screenplay and Best International Film at the Gotham Independent Film Awards, as well as Best Foreign Language Film at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. As we stated in our EFA predictions, there was every reason to believe that it would win big in all of its categories.

The EFAs aren’t above awarding several awards to the same film, as we saw last year for Triangle of Sadness. Same case this year.

Sandra Hüller, who was nominated twice this year for her performance in Anatomy of a Fall and The Zone of Interest, was something a lock for Best Actress. It is merited, as she is the beating heart of the film and its knotty complexities. Thanks to her fantastic turn, the film reveals itself as far more interested in weightier meditations on perception and storytelling and as such, the engulfing sense of uncertainty becomes addictive throughout.

Stay tuned to Euronews Culture for our full interview with Hüller.

While Anatomy of a Fall is a thought-provoking drama with proper emotional depth and a worthy winner, it is, dare we say it, a smidge overhyped. Green Border and The Zone of Interest could have gotten more love – not just because they are incredible films, but also for the sake of variety. Jonathan Glazer should really have nabbed Best Director for his formal daring and for making a Holocaust drama unlike any other, and it’s disappointing that Agnieszka Holland’s immensely impactful Green Border went home empty-handed. We hope that they will get a look-in during the ongoing awards season.

Still, don’t be surprised if Anatomy of a Fall continues to win big all the way up to (and possibly including) the Oscars next year.

Elsewhere, as we precited, Mads Mikkelsen won Best Actor for his terrific turn in The Promised Land (sadly, Mikkelsen was not in Berlin to receive his prize but tuned in virtually); Oscar-winning British actress Vanessa Redgrave received the European Lifetime Achievement honour (Redgrave was also disappointingly only seen virtually, alongside her daughter Joely Richardson); and Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr was presented with the Honorary Award of the Academy President and Board. He showed up. So that’s something.

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Also of note is the European Young Audience Award, which went to Scrapper, by Charlotte Regan – with Molly Manning Walker as Director of Photography. Manning Walker won the European Discovery – Prix FIPRESCI for How To Have Sex, and we’re thrilled that two emerging talents from the UK were awarded prizes. Both films feature in our Best Films of 2023 list, so once again, stayed tuned to Euronews Culture for our thoughts and our full countdown to our Best Film of the Year...

(Scroll down for the full list of winners.)

Stellar films in need of an equally impressive set-up

This year, the European Film Awards, through their line-up and nominated films, have shown once again the vibrancy of European cinema.

However, if they want to position themselves as an unmissable event and an equal to Hollywood’s awards ceremonies – both in pomp and prestige, to better raise up the quality of filmmaking - they will need to up the aesthetics somewhat.

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Last year’s ceremony in Iceland showed so much promise, announcing itself as a momentous date. Comparatively, Berlin’s edition this year felt somewhat lacking. The awards, held at the Berlin Arena, would have necessitated a bigger, grander stage to boast 2023’s stellar vintage of films. The Berlinale Palast, for example, would have sent a stronger message. The Arena’s low stage and cheap chairs didn’t fit the bill, and gave the ceremony a bit of a disappointingly low-key spin.

And while they’re at it, they could invite the directors of the Berlinale, Cannes and Venice. After all, the films which premiered at their festival make up most of the nominees...

As for the marketing, Berlin’s citywide billboards could have trumpeted the ceremony a bit more.

Europe has nothing to envy Hollywood; it now needs a bigger platform to reflect its ambitions. The European Film Academy is more than capable of leading the charge, with a terrific team in charge behind the scenes. That said, the award ceremony needs to reflect the quality of the films themselves.

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Again, last year’s 35th edition set the example and was a high watermark. It was a truly memorable event. Unless budget cuts are responsible this year, European cinema needs a bit more oomph.

Full list of this year’s winners

Best European Film

• WINNER: ANATOMY OF A FALL (ANATOMIE D’UNE CHUTE) - Directed by Justine Triet (France)

• FALLEN LEAVES (KUOLLEET LEHDET) - Directed by Aki Kaurismäki (Finland, Germany)

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• GREEN BORDER (ZIELONA GRANICA) - Directed by Agnieszka Holland (Poland, France, Czech Republic, Belgium)

• ME CAPTAIN (IO CAPITANO) - Directed by Matteo Garrone (Italy, Belgium)

• THE ZONE OF INTEREST - Directed by Jonathan Glazer (United Kingdom, Poland, USA)

Best European Director

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• WINNER: Justine Triet for ANATOMY OF A FALL

• Aki Kaurismäki for FALLEN LEAVES

• Agnieszka Holland for GREEN BORDER

• Matteo Garrone for ME CAPTAIN

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• Jonathan Glazer for THE ZONE OF INTEREST

Best European Actress

• WINNER: Sandra Hüller in ANATOMY OF A FALL

• Sandra Hüller in THE ZONE OF INTEREST

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• Eka Chavleishvili in BLACKBIRD BLACKBIRD BLACKBERRY

• Alma Pöysti in FALLEN LEAVES

• Mia McKenna-Bruce in HOW TO HAVE SEX

• Leonie Benesch in THE TEACHERS’ LOUNGE

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Best European Actor

• WINNER: Mads Mikkelsen in THE PROMISED LAND

• Thomas Schubert in AFIRE

• Jussi Vatanen in FALLEN LEAVES

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• Josh O’Connor in LA CHIMERA

• Christian Friedel in THE ZONE OF INTEREST

Best European Screenwriter

• WINNER: Justine Triet & Arthur Harari for ANATOMY OF A FALL

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• Aki Kaurismäki for FALLEN LEAVES

• Maciej Pisuk, Gabriela Łazarkiewicz-Sieczko & Agnieszka Holland for GREEN BORDER

• İlker Çatak & Johannes Duncker for THE TEACHERS’ LOUNGE

• Jonathan Glazer for THE ZONE OF INTEREST

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Best European Documentary

• WINNER: SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD (SAVVUSANNA SÕSARAD) - Directed by Anna Hints (Estonia, France, Iceland)

• APOLONIA, APOLONIA - Directed by Lea Glob (Denmark, Poland)

• FOUR DAUGHTERS (LES FILLES D’OLFA) - Directed by Kaouther Ben Hania (France, Tunisia, Germany, Saudi Arabia)

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• MOTHERLAND - Directed by Hanna Badziaka & Alexander Mihalkovich (Sweden, Ukraine, Norway)

• ON THE ADAMANT (SUR L’ADAMANT) - Directed by Nicolas Philibert (France, Japan)

European Discovery – Prix FIPRESCI

• WINNER: HOW TO HAVE SEX directed by Molly Manning Walker (United Kingdom, Greece)

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• 20,000 SPECIES OF BEES (20.000 ESPECIES DE ABEJAS) directed by Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren (Spain)

• LA PALISIADA (ЛЯ ПАЛІСІАДА) directed by Philip Sotnychenko (Ukraine)

• SAFE PLACE (SIGURNO MJESTO) directed by Juraj Lerotić (Croatia, Slovenia)

• THE QUIET MIGRATION (STILLE LIV) directed by Malene Choi (Denmark)

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• VINCENT MUST DIE (VINCENT DOIT MOURIR) directed by Stéphan Castang (France)

Best European Animated Feature Film

• WINNER: ROBOT DREAMS directed by Pablo Berger

• A GREYHOUND OF A GIRL directed by Enzo d’Alò

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• CHICKEN FOR LINDA! directed by Chiara Malta, Sébastien Laudenbach

• TEH AMAZING MAURICE directed by Toby Genkel

• WHITE PLASTIC SKY directed by Tibor Bánóczki, Sarolta Szabó

Best European Short Film

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• WINNER: HARDLY WORKING directed by Susanna Flock, Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, Michael Stumpf

• 27, directed by Flóra Anna Buda

• AQUERONTE directed by Manuel Muñoz Rivas

• DAYDREAMING SO VIVIDLY ABOUT OUR SPANISH HOLIDAYS directed by Christian Avilés

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• FLORES DEL OTRO PATIO directed by Jorge Cadena

The nominations are based on the votes of 4,600 members of the European Film Academy who have been watching the films included in the annual Academy Selection.

Stay tuned to Euronews Culture for our full interviews with Sandra Hüller and Agnieszka Holland.

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