European Film Awards: An Cailín Ciúin picks up award as Triangle of Sadness sweeps the board

Despite the best efforts of the academy, European audiences have stubbornly refused to embrace the EFAs as the movieverse’s answer to Eurovision

The Harpa Centre in Reykjavík is home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and The Icelandic Opera. An imposing piece of architecture with award-winning acoustics, it has featured in episodes of Netflix’s Sense8 and Black Mirror, hosted the World Yo-Yo Contest in 2017, and is a three-minute stroll from the Icelandic Phallological Museum. (Yes, that houses what you think it does.)

The Harpa proved a perfect venue for the 35th European Film Awards, a grand, continental celebration, returning in some style after last year’s mostly virtual, socially distanced, Berlin-based event.

“It’s like the Oscars,” explained Icelandic actor, screenwriter, politician, and co-host Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir during the shindig’s opening gambit. “But all the films are foreign.”

Despite the best efforts of the European Film Academy, the presence of global stars Dali Benssalah, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Nina Hoss, and live streams and broadcasts across 29 countries, European audiences have stubbornly refused to embrace the EFAs as the movieverse’s answer to the Eurovision.


This year’s ceremony saw the entire auditorium get to their feet and bust some moves to the electro-beats of Icelandic noiseniks, GusGus. An excellent sequence of parody films featured a fake British kitchen sink retelling of Macbeth titled Oi Wanker, solely comprised of those two words.

“I’m just excited to get drunk later,” announced award-presenter Jedet on the giddy pre-show red carpet; good as her word, the LGBTQI icon later fluffed her lines: “I’m a little bit drunk; it’s cold here.”

She was one of many presenters who visibly struggled to open envelopes that were apparently over-glued.

Happily, after some tussle and tearing on Jedet’s part, the deserving recipient of the FIPRESCI Discovery Prize, Laura Samani, received her statuette for the marvellous medieval drama, Small Body.

“There’s no such thing as a too-long speech,” comedian and co-host Hugleikur Dagsson jokingly instructed the nominees. “Who needs an after-party?”

If only someone thought to tell Ursula von der Leyen, accepting the bizarrely conceived European sustainability award – Prix Connect4climate in a pre-recorded message on behalf of the European Commission. Meanwhile, redefining the phrase “All Shall Have Prizes”, the Euroimage co-production award was given not to one producer but to all producers from Ukraine.

Elsewhere, there were some genuinely great innovations.

The brilliant Kate McCullough – looking fabulous in a long skirt and dinner jacket – accepted an excellence award in cinematography for her work on The Quiet Girl (An Cailín Ciúin).

She arrived on stage as part of a ceremony-shortening constellation of simultaneous winners in technical categories, including production design and costume design (those prizes went, respectively, to Jim Clay and Charlotte Walter for Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast).

Each of the nominees for best European director was movingly introduced in “Dear John” style letters from their actors, including Eden Dambrine, the young star of Lukas Dhont’s Close, now visibly older than he appears in the grand prix-winning film, and sporting braces and a hint of a moustache.

One category was recounted through the medium of interpretive dance; the disabled activists who front the long-running Icelandic TV series Through Our Eyes (Með okkar augum) talked us through the shortlist for best European film.

The European comedy award was summarised by informal banter between basketball players.

The filmmakers of The Good Boss, the eventual winner of the comedy category, were not entirely amused. “There’s been a mistake; The Good Boss is a drama,” said perplexed producer, Jaume Roures.

A merry Zlatko Burić recalled his years in Yugoslavian theatre as the veteran Triangle of Sadness star to beat Paul Mescal’s Aftersun performance for the best actor award.

Other Irish nominees included Mark Cousins whose documentary The March of Time, a compelling, urgent portrait of the rise of Mussolini, lost out to Mariupolis 2. That award was accepted by Teja Kvedaraviciute, the daughter of late director Mantas Kvedaravicius, who received a standing ovation.

Kenneth Branagh, shortlisted for Belfast’s screenplay, was pipped at the post by Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness.

The Belfast-born actor and filmmaker was not alone in defeat. Ostlund’s Palme d’Or winner was the pony to beat in Reykjavík. Many superb contenders, including Holy Spider, Godland, and Saint-Omer, went home empty-handed.

The Swedish auteur’s riotous English-language comedy swept the boards with wins in four major categories, best screenplay, best actor, best director, and best film.

“Triangle of Sadness? I’ve seen it twice!” said one of the Through Our Eyes presenters, excitedly, before Östlund and his team made their way to the podium for a final bow.

35th European Film Awards 2022 nominees and winners

European film award

  • Alcarràs
  • Close
  • Corsage
  • Holy Spider
  • Triangle of Sadness – Winner

European documentary award

  • A House Made of Splinters
  • Girl Gang
  • Mariupolis 2 – Winner
  • The Balcony Movie
  • The March on Rome

European director award

  • Lukas Dhont for Close
  • Marie Kreutzer for Corsage
  • Jerzy Skolimowski for EO
  • Ali Abbasi for Holy Spider
  • Alice Diop for Saint Omer
  • Ruben Östlund for Triangle of Sadness – Winner

European actress award

  • Vicky Krieps in Corsage – Winner
  • Zar Amir Ebrahimi in Holy Spider
  • Léa Seydoux in One Fine Morning
  • Penélope Cruz in Parallel Mothers
  • Meltem Kaptan in Rabiye Kurnaz Vs George W Bush

European actor award

  • Paul Mescal in Aftersun
  • Eden Dambrine in Close
  • Elliott Crosset Hove in Godland
  • Pierfrancesco Favino in Nostalgia
  • Zlatko Burić in Triangle of Sadness – Winner

European screenwriter award

  • Carla Simón & Arnau Vilaró for Alcarràs
  • Kenneth Branagh for Belfast
  • Lukas Dhont & Angelo Tijssens for “Close
  • Ali Abbasi & Afshin Kamran Bahrami for Holy Spider
  • Ruben Östlund for Triangle of Sadness – Winner

European FIPRESCI discovery award

  • 107 Mothers
  • Love According to Dalva
  • Other People
  • Pamfir
  • Small Body – Winner
  • Sonne

European comedy award

  • Cop Secret
  • The Divide
  • The Good Boss – Winner

European animated feature film award

  • Little Nicholas – Happy as Can Be
  • My Love Affair With Marriage
  • My Neighbors’ Neighbors
  • No Dogs or Italians Allowed – Winner
  • Oink

European short film award

  • Granny’s Sexual Life – Winner
  • Ice Merchants
  • Love, Dad
  • Techno, Mama
  • Will My Parents Come to See Me

Excellence awards

European cinematography award

Winner: Kate McCullough for The Quiet Girl (An Cailín Ciúin)

European editing award

Winner: Özcan Vardar & Eytan İpeker for Burning Days

European make-up and hair award

Winner: Heike Merker for All Quiet On The Western Front

European original score award

Winner: Paweł Mykietyn for EO

European sound award

Winner: Simone Paolo Olivero, Marco Saitta, Ansgar Frerich & Florian Holzner for The Hole

European visual effects award

Winner: Frank Petzold For All Quiet On The Western Front

European lifetime achievement award

Winner: Margarethe von Trotta

European achievement in world cinema award

Winner: Elia Suleiman

European innovative storytelling award

Winner: Marco Bellocchio

European co-production award (Prix Eurimages)

Winner: Ukraine

European university film award

Winner: EO

Young audience award

Winner: Animal

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic