It is by no means an easy question that runs like a common thread through "Anatomy of a Case": Was it an accident, a suicide - or was it murder? Justine Triet's complex legal thriller about a self-determined author under suspicion of murder won in five categories at the European Film Awards on Saturday evening in Berlin. The film was honored as the best European film of the year and also received trophies for directing, screenplay and editing.
One of the big winners of the evening was the German actress Sandra Hülser (45), who played the lead role in “Anatomy of a Case” and won the award for best actress. In her speech, the actress, who was born in Suhl (Thuringia), thanked her - and called on the audience to observe a moment of silence for peace in the world. "Since there are so many of us this evening (...), I would like to be silent with you for a few moments," said Hülser. It became very quiet in the hall, after which there was a lot of applause.
The 45-year-old, who lives in Leipzig, was nominated twice in the category (also for the drama "The Zone of Interest"). She beat, among others, her German colleague Leonie Benesch ("The Teacher's Room") and the Finn Alma Pöysti from the tragicomedy “Falling Leaves.” Hülser had already received the trophy for best actress in the tragicomedy “Toni Erdmann” in 2016.
"Anatomy of a Case" is about the writer Sandra, who lives in the French Alps with her husband Samuel and their almost blind son Daniel. When Samuel is found dead in front of the chalet, everything looks like a bad fall. But it doesn't take long before Sandra is suspected of having killed her husband and has to answer for it in court. Hülser plays an opaque woman who keeps the audience guessing about her motives until the end.
Mads Mikkelsen was named best actor
The complex drama also addresses the couple's conflicts and always makes you doubt your assessment of whether Sandra is guilty or not. The film, which was released in German cinemas in November, won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. The team is also in discussion for the Oscar race - including Hülser as the leading actress. The industry magazine “The Hollywood Reporter” even asked the question at the beginning of September: “Sandra Hülser, actress of the year?”
The members of the European Film Academy chose the Dane Mads Mikkelsen as the best European actor for his role in the film “Bastards”. The 58-year-old thanked him for the prize via video. The German actor Christian Friedel (44), who plays the Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höß in "The Zone of Interest", was also proposed in the category.
Prize for documentary about women in the smoke sauna
“Smoke Sauna Sisterhood,” which portrays several women in a smoke sauna in Estonia, won best documentary film. Instead of an acceptance speech, director Anna Hints wanted to sing a song after accepting the award in Berlin.
The European Film Prize is one of the most prestigious awards in the industry. The approximately 4,600 members of the film academy were able to vote on award winners in a number of categories, similar to the Oscars in the USA. Last year, the satire "Triangle of Sadness" about a luxury cruise was named best European film.
British actress Vanessa Redgrave ("Blow Up") was honored for her life's work. The Hungarian film director Béla Tarr ("Sátántangó") received an honorary award from the president and board of the academy. The 68-year-old's appearance on stage caused enthusiasm among the audience.
The Spanish director Isabel Coixet ("The Secret Life of Words") was honored for her contributions to world cinema; she accepted the award visibly moved. Some winners had already been decided before the gala, which lasted several hours: “The Zone of Interest” by Jonathan Glazer received a prize for the best sound. The European Film Prize is usually awarded alternately in Berlin and another European city.