30 Years of the European Film Academy 

30 Years of the European Film Academy


In the early 1980s there was a growing consensus that Europe should establish an institution similar to America’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which confers the Academy Awards each year; nevertheless, works by outstanding European filmmakers are not generally nominated for Best Picture and must content themselves with the Best Foreign Language Film category. The call to create a platform for awarding films originating on the European continent, in other words a European version of the famous Oscar ceremony, led in 1988 to a meeting convened by some of Europe’s most important filmmakers in what was then West Berlin. This initiative gave rise to the founding of the European Cinema Society, soon renamed the European Film Academy, and to the presentation in November 1988 of the first awards for excellence in European cinema. The award for Best European Film, known as the Felix Award until 1997, went to Poland’s Krzysztof Kieślowski for A Short Film about Killing; other awards were divided among Wim Wenders for Wings of Desire, Louis Malle for Au revoir les enfants, Sergei Parajanov for Ashik-Kerib, and Bernardo Bertolucci for The Last Emperor. Best European Actress went to Carmen Maura for her performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and Max von Sydow took Best European Actor for Pelle the Conqueror.

The group of forty founding members quickly grew as the activities of the European Film Academy likewise began to expand. Today the EFA has more than 3,000 members, both film professionals and representatives from across the film industry, all of whom share the common aim of promoting European film culture. In addition to the annual European Film Awards ceremony, the EFA also organises conferences, seminars and lectures given by distinguished cinematic figures, the underlying sense of which is to build a bridge between the filmmaking process and the industry as a whole. The European Film Academy is still based in Berlin, where it was founded, and is headed by EFA President Wim Wenders, who took over from Ingmar Bergman in 1996. Other major names in European film have been elected as EFA chairmen – British producer Nik Powell and French producer Humbert Balsan, after whose untimely death the Academy appointed Yves Marmion, also a producer from France. The current chairwoman is Polish director Agnieszka Holland.

The endeavours of the European Film Academy throughout the year culminate annually in the European Film Awards ceremony. In the feature film category, the “European Oscars” are currently presented for the best European Film, along with awards for excellence in direction, screenwriting, cinematography, music and production design. Awards are also given for best European actor and actress, best European documentary and best short film. This December the EFA awards will be presented in Berlin, where they are announced every other year. Outside Berlin, host cities have included London, Glasgow, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Warsaw, Copenhagen, Valetta, Tallinn, Riga, and Wrocław. The event is an important date on the European film calendar, well deserving of its comparison with the glamour of the Oscars or Golden Globes. The EFA is unquestionably fulfilling its objective to increase awareness of European film culture: Many of the EFA award-winning films have acquired world popularity and have attracted attention from distributors and audiences alike. Examples include Landscape in the Mist (dir. Theo Angelopoulos, Best European Film, 1989), works by Lars von Trier, Michael Haneke and Pedro Almodóvar, and also the French film Amélie (dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet), which earned the European film title in 2001, the year it also took away the Crystal Globe from the 36th Karlovy Vary IFF.

This year’s 52nd Karlovy Vary IFF is marking three decades since the launch of the European Film Academy with the screening of several films that were awarded by the EFA and that also won other major prizes at some of the world’s most important festivals. Viewers will have the opportunity on this occasion to meet the filmmakers themselves and some of the actors involved as well.

Eva Zaoralová

  • Land and Freedom Země a svoboda / Land and Freedom
    Directed by: Ken Loach
    United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, 1995, 110 min

    Ken Loach always chooses an arduous path in his effort to honestly arrive at the truest understanding. His view of the bloody conflict between Republican and Francoist forces is far from the traditional and simplistic notion of the Spanish Civil War, and his hero, a young British Communist named David fighting as a volunteer for the Republicans, loses many an illusion.

  • Oh Boy Sakra, kluku! / Oh Boy
    Directed by: Jan-Ole Gerster
    Germany, 2012, 88 min

    Young Niko gains experience left and right but he doesn’t seem to know what to do with it. He wants to be alone, or at least to be silent, but people keep asking him things. And so while contemporary Berlin pulsates around him, the young man wrestles with recklessness because it might lead to the premature end of his journey.

  • Sweet Sixteen Sladkých šestnáct let / Sweet Sixteen
    Directed by: Ken Loach
    United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, 2002, 106 min

    Adolescent Liam, whose dream of a family and a better life edges him towards a downward spiral of crime, is the extreme version of the majority of Loach’s heroes – the vehicle through which he points to the malignant consequences of poverty and society’s indifference to the socially deprived. Paul Laverty, the director’s regular scripter since his collaboration on the film, won Best Screenplay at Cannes in 2002.

  • Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Ženy na pokraji nervového zhroucení / Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios
    Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
    Spain, 1988, 88 min

    As she doggedly searches for her inconstant lover, protagonist Pepa serves as the common thread linking absurd situations with insights into the bizarre lives of numerous characters. The film successfully passes for a madcap comedy, but the women here are connected by something else – emotional turmoil and loneliness.


© 2023 FILM SERVIS FESTIVAL KARLOVY VARY, a.s. [email protected] +420 221 411 011 All contacts

AccommodationsAccommodations Festival Pass, tickets, reservationsFestival Pass, tickets
HistoryHistory ContactsContacts
Archive of filmsArchive of films KVIFF TalksKVIFF Talks
Industry Days Programme 2021Industry Days Programme KVIFF Eastern PromisesKVIFF Eastern Promises
VideogalleryVideogallery PhotogalleryPhotogallery
ContactsContacts Posters of the 57th KV IFFPosters of the 57th KV IFF
HistoryHistory Festival GuideFestival Guide