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Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida was the big winner of the evening, taking home five awards including best filmCourtesy of Sylwester Kazmierczak

Cold weather, great movies

Radical brutality, feminist outcries and Putin jokes – Carmen Gray braves the Latvian snow for the European Film Awards

Latvia’s capital Riga hosted the European Film Awards on Saturday night and Dazed braved the snow (well, a few flakes) to check who cleaned up the year’s cinematic honours. There was a lot going on. Academy president Wim Wenders and Norwegian director and Bergman muse Liv Ullmann were among presenters, and Brit artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen was honoured with a European achievement award. Here are our favourite parts.


Legendary French new wave director Agnes Varda was in town to pick up a lifetime achievement award. She was a pixellish vision in layers of polka dots, with two-toned red-and-white hair, as she presented a special screening of her playful autobiographical doc mash-up The Beaches of Agnes Varda (2008), bringing free-spirited rebellion to the old-school grandeur of Riga’s Splendid Palace cinema. The 86-year-old is still keen to shake the industry up, using her time on stage at the awards to point out: “When I look at the nominees here, I feel there are not enough women. Sometimes, women don’t dare, but I know a lot of very good female directors and I would like them to be more represented.”

Under the Skin composer Mica Leva (Micachu) did get honoured however, winning the soundtrack award for her beautifully destabilising and nerve-shredding score to Jonathan Glazer’s heavily atmospheric alien seductress sci-fi.

Revisit our trip to Micachu’s London sound sanctuary here


In a refreshing change from most dry, long-winded awards shows, this one didn’t take itself too seriously – but was strong on political statements to boot. Russia’s homophobia was a target all night. The night’s presenter was German TV personality Thomas Hermanns, who introduced himself as an “openly gay comedian” and said he was “happy to be on this side of the Russian-Latvian border” to keep him out of jail. He was all for a good time, telling us just to shout out if we needed cigarettes, booze or drugs to perk us up through the show. A seat was kept empty for Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, arrested this year by Russia’s security service, prompting a human rights outcry from the international film community.


The big winner of the night was Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida, which won five awards including best film, and the audience award – showing that black-and-white, seriously political arthouse fare can still draw the punters. The elegantly shot Polish film stars Agata Trzebuchowska as an eighteen-year-old who seeks out her hard-drinking aunt (a former state prosecutor) before becoming a nun. Cue a road trip and startling revelations about Ida’s past and her nation’s troubled history.

Could this win mean Ida’s in line for a foreign-language Academy Award? The last two EFA winners – Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty (2013), and Michael Haneke’s Amour (2012) – also bagged the Oscar goods, so it’s raised Polish hopes. Ida bet out competition from Russian corruption epic Leviathan, Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s slow-paced Cannes-winner Winter Sleep, and Ruben Ostlund’s alpine black comedy of marriage meltdown Force Majeure – all of which are up for Oscars. Also missing out was Lars Von Trier’s catalogue of sex-addiction tales Nymphomaniac. Never at ease travelling for the public spotlight, the Danish provocateur wasn’t at the awards – so presenter Thomas Hermanns decided to kitsch things up for the director watching at home, donning pink leg-warmers and getting Swedish Force Majeure actor Johannes Bah Kuhnke to join him for a dance on stage to “Maniac” they dedicated to him. Hermanns imagined the auteur’s likely reaction: “He’ll be looking at me a bit skeptically, but also interested.”

Revisit our interview with Pawlikowski about Ida here


The deserving winner of the European Discovery award was the Ukrainian drama that blew our minds this year – Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s radical drama of brutality at a boarding school for the deaf The Tribe, which is entirely in unsubtitled sign language. The director dedicated the award to the deaf community.

Revisit our report from Cannes on the film here


The European Film Awards ceremony came at the end of two weeks of cinematic celebration, as the Riga International Film Festival brought the best of the foreign fests to locals and showcased Latvian films to visitors. Home turf highlights were Rocks in my Pockets from Latvia-born, New York-based animator Signe Baumane, a nakedly honest and blackly witty retelling of the histories of the women in her family and their mental illnesses; and the first ever horror made in Latvia, The Man in the Orange Jacket by young director Aik Karapetian, an elegantly shot mind-bender of home invasion. Modris, a gritty drama about a teen spiralling toward a prison sentence from debut director Juris Kursietis, also hit hard.