9 Dec 2007: Best little whorehouse … | Waiting for Godard | Losing Control

Best little whorehouse …

The following could and never would happen at the Oscars. Australian cinematographer Chris Doyle, who has shot nine films with Wong Kar-Wai, gets up on stage to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to fellow cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, a veteran of almost five decades who has worked alongside Martin Scorsese on some of his best films. Doyle is apparently so drunk that he calls Ballhaus a ‘fucking wonderful whore’ but forgets to introduce him by name. Emmanuelle Beart, who doesn’t look to be having the best of times co-presenting with German actor Jan Josef Liefers, clearly isn’t going to tackle Doyle. When he finally exits, Jeanne Moreau steps grandly on stage to present the final prize of European Film 2007. One of the grande dames of French cinema, Moreau, who is about to turn 80, looks out across the audience and says: ‘We are the fucking wonderful whores of European cinema.’ There’s something exquisite about a woman of a certain age swearing – all the more so in heavily accented French.

Waiting for Godard

The European Film Awards are full of real emotion, too: none of that Gwyneth Paltrow nonsense where a rambling speech is accompanied by much theatrical weeping. This is the year, of course, that Ingmar Bergman (first president of the EFA) and Michelangelo Antonioni passed away in tandem. Liv Ullman – who had earlier been asked by Jan Josef Liefers to say something in her native Swedish, when she’s always been Norwegian – talked of the two great directors ‘dancing together in a world that will never end’. There was more sadness, too: Wim Wenders, president of the European Film Academy, found his voice cracking as he addressed an eloquent speech to an absent Jean-Luc Godard. Most of us would have been more surprised if the reclusive Godard had actually turned up to accept his Lifetime Achievement Award, but Wenders couldn’t hide his disappointment. ‘We would like to have shown our love and admiration in the first person …’

Losing Control

If there was a VIP area at the EFAs, no one was using it. Instead everyone mingled by a rather overpacked buffet. Julie Delpy’s 2 Days in Paris wasn’t nominated, but the French actor-director-writer still felt ‘compelled to support European film’. Jean-Marc Barr, most famous outside his native France for his sultry appearance in The Big Blue back in 1988, had a huge smile for every woman who glanced sideways at him. Anton Corbijn won several trophies for Control at the British Independent Film Awards a few days earlier but Israeli director Eran Kolirin beat him to the European Discovery award for The Band’s Visit. Still, Corbijn bothered to turn up and seemed happy enough to grab some drinks. He was last seen with a carefree grin on his face.