Film stars and moviemakers from East and West honored their industry recently with prizes and praise at the first European Film Award ceremony, Europe's answer to the Oscar.
"A Short Film About Killing," a starkly simple Polish production about the murder of a taxi driver and his assailant's execution, won the seven-strong international jury's vote for the main prize of best film.The film, directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, already took the jury's prize at the 1988 Cannes film festival.
In a two-hour television spectacular beamed across Europe from West Berlin's Theater des Westens, 10 major awards went to a young Dutch actress, an 87-year-old West German actor, a Danish boy and Georgian set designers.
The cream of European cinema - from Iceland to Portugal, Britain to the Soviet Union - was there.
The jury and an earlier nomination committee had viewed 48 films from the 27 European states with film industries before whittling them down to the winners.
"Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," a Spanish comedy directed by Pedro Almodovar, was the best young film, a category described as one of fresh ideas and youthful talent, and Carmen Maura was named best actress for her role in it.
The Oscar-style prize handed to each winner was a roughly-hewn bronze figure clutching a dove. The best film and best young film award winners received $58,000 each.
West Berlin Cultural Affairs Minister Volker Hassemer dreamed up the idea of a European Film Award two years ago as a way to build bridges across the political divide, improve quality, promote young talent and help compete against the U.S. commercial challenge.
Leading European directors - including Ingmar Bergman, Bernardo Bertolucci and Wim Wenders - said in a declaration that they did not want the new award to rival the Oscar but rather to recognize the strength of European film.
"We have no other aim than to promote the true values of European cinematography in defense of European culture, so that it receives sufficient attention and reaches all parts of the world," they said.
But it was the veteran Curt Bois who almost stole the show after receiving his prize as best supporting actor in Wenders's film, appropriately set in Berlin.
To the consternation of the time-conscious organizers, Bois, 87, got down on his knees to recall at length how he made his acting debut in the same theater in 1908.
The 10 European Film Awards:++
Best film: "A Short Film About Killing" (Poland)
Best young film: "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" (Spain)
Best director: Wim Wenders (West Germany, for "Wings of Desire")
Best screenplay: Louis Malle (France, for "Au Revoir Les Enfants")
Best actor: Max von Sydow (Denmark, in "Pelle the Conqueror")
Best actress: Carmen Maura (Spain, in "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown")
Best supporting actor: Curt Bois (West Germany, in "Wings of Desire")
Best supporting actress: Johanna ter Steege (Netherlands, in "The Vanishing")
Best young actor: Pelle Hvenegaard (Denmark, "Pelle the Conqueror")
Special category: Costumes and effects in Soviet Georgian film "Aschik-Kerib."