It was a film, said Armando Iannucci as he picked up a major European award, made by someone who was Scottish and Italian, filmed mostly in England, financed totally by the French, and went through post-production in Belgium.

The Death of Stalin, which was named best comedy film of 2018, was a particularly European film, he said.

“It just shows what a good idea it is for countries to co-operate together and work with the British in, let’s call it a European community, a European union. It worked very well, I’m going to take that idea back to the United Kingdom.”

Iannucci was speaking at the the European academy film awards, founded in Berlin in 1988 as a kind of arthouse alternative to the Oscars.

The biggest winner at Saturday’s ceremony was Cold War by Poland’s Pawel Pawlikowski, a love story set in the shadow of the iron curtain. Its five awards included best film, best screenplay and best director.

Apart from a short comedy sketch by the presenters, the actual word Brexit was barely uttered at the ceremony in the Seville. But, like the flamenco tapping throughout, it was there in the air.

Armando Iannucci

Armando Iannucci won the best comedy award for The Death of Stalin. Photograph: Gisela Schober/Getty Images

A visibly moved Ralph Fiennes, accepting a special award for European achievement in world cinema, said it was “distressing and depressing” to witness the debate in his own country “about who we are in relation to Europe”.

“In England now there is only the noise of division,” he said.

Film, he continued, provided some hope by celebrating “our differences of language, culture, custom and our common humanity. I believe film makers are unifiers. Our work is by definition collaborative, it has to be to survive.”

He said the idea of being allowed to “breathe free,” was being challenged in multiple ways. “Not only by populist sentiment but by the slow pressure of political correctness and the creeping manipulation of social media.”

Fiennes was accepting an honorary award for his stellar career, spanning Schindler’s List and The English Patient to Coriolanus, Voldomort and James Bond’s M.

Iannucci was receiving his prize for his Stalinist-era satire voted on by more than 3,500 members of the European Film Academy. He joked that they were brave, given his film had been banned in Russia.

“You’re all now on the list. Don’t eat or touch anything, but apart from that have a good evening.”

The best actor award went to Italian Marcello Fonte for his lead role in Matteo Garrone’s Dogman in which he plays a nerdy, likeable dog groomer with a darker side. Dogman won three awards on the night.

Joanna Kulig won the European actress award for Cold War. Being seven months pregnant meant she could not fly from Los Angeles for the ceremony.

The best documentary award went to Jane Magnussen for “Bergman – a year in the life” which focuses on 1957, the year Ingmar Bergman made Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal as well as important TV and theatre work.

Other awards included the discovery prize, given to Lukas Dhont for his trans film Girl, a Belgian contender for the foreign-language Oscar; and the best animated feature film, presented to Raul de la Fuente and Damian Nenow for Another Day of Life which explores the 1975 Angola civil war.

The People’s Choice award went to Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name.

Other special awards went to the film-maker Costa-Gavras and the Spanish actor Carmen Maura. They were both given by the president of the EFA Wim Wenders although, perhaps conscious of how long the ceremony was dragging on, he chose to wear a long overcoat and fedora hat for the second presentation.


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