23 September, 2008

European Parliament Lux Cinema Prize

We highlight the European Parliament's LUX Cinema Prize, as MEPs begin casting their votes on films selected for their talented illustration of the European integration process, topical EU issues and cultural diversity.

In 2007, the European Parliament inaugurated the LUX Cinema Prize award, to "reflect cinema as being the ideal vehicle for communication - or reflection - on Europe and its future".

Last year, Fatih Akin's Turkish-German co-production On the Edge of Heaven (Auf der anderen Seite) won the competition's first edition (it also scooped Fatih Akin Best Sreenwriter award at the 2007 European Film Awards (EFA), and was also nominated for EFA Best Director and Best Film) and, as will be the case this year, was chosen based on the votes of the 785 MEPs from a shortlist of three films.

At the time, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering praised the newly created cinema prize as "a premiere, fifty years after the signing the Treaty of Rome", declaring the assembly's intent to annually honour a film that draws attention to current social questions affecting Europe and highlighting, in particular, European integration. In addition, the award aims to highlight "the richness of EU linguistic diversity and support the artistic production of the cinema sector".

This year's three films are drawn from the competition's official selection of ten, chosen by a pan EU 17-strong panel comprising representatives drawn from the cinema world, such as directors, producers, festival organisers and critics, and are being screened for MEPs in a specially designed 90-seat cinema in the European Parliament, from 15 September-17 October. Voting will be electronic, and members will be allowed up to three votes, depending on the number of the nominated films that they watch. Each film will be screened 18 times, and voting closes at midnight on 21 October, with the LUX Prize trophy to be presented to the winning film by Hans-Gert Pöttering on 22 October in the Strasbourg hemicycle, in the presence of all MEPs and representatives of the three finalists.

And of course, EFA Reviews and Picturenose will bring you the results plus, in the interim, reviews of all three films. We'll even let you know if we agree with the MEPs' decision...

And the prize itself? As the aim of the award is "to facilitate the circulation of European films and give a boost to cinematic work within the common market", the winning film will be sub-titled in the 23 official languages of the European Union, with a 35mm format version produced for each member state. The award, which is estimated as being worth around €87,000, also includes an original language adaptation for the deaf and hard of hearing and, depending on budget, a further adaptation for the blind and visually impaired.

Click here for more information about the LUX Cinema Prize official selection, and see below for a brief description of the three LUX Prize-nominees, from the competition's website.

Delta (2008)

Director: Kornél Mundruczó
Starring: Sándor Gáspár, Félix Lajkó, Lili Monori, Orsi Tóth
Country: Hungary, Germany
Year: 2008
92 mins
Original language: Hungarian
Awards: International Federation of Film Critics, 2008

A quiet young man returns to the wild, isolated landscape of the Delta, a labyrinth of waterways, small islands and over-grown vegetation, where villagers are cut off from the outside world. The man, who has been away since early childhood, is introduced to a sister he never knew he had. She is frail and timid, but resolute when she decides to join him in his run-down hut on the shore. Together they build a house on stilts in the middle of the river, far away from everyone else. One day, they invite the villagers over to share a meal together, but it soon becomes apparent that the locals do not accept their 'unnatural' relationship...

Le silence de Lorna (2008)

Director: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Starring: Arta Dobroshi, Olivier Gourmet, Morgan Marinne, Jérémie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione
Country: Belgium, France, Italy
105 mins
Original language: French
Awards: Award for Best Screenplay, Cannes 2008

In order to become the owner of a snack bar with her boyfriend, Lorna, a young Albanian woman living in Belgium becomes an accomplice to a plan devised by mobster Fabio, who has orchestrated a sham marriage between her and Claudy. The union will allows Lorna to obtain Belgian citizenship and marry a Russian Mafioso who is willing to pay a lot of money for the same status. However, for the second marriage to be possible, Fabio has planned to kill Claudy. What will Lorna do?

Občan Havel (2008)

Director: Miroslav Janek and Pavel Koutecký
Starring: Václav Havel, Ivan Medek, Anna Freimanová, Vladimír Hanzel
Country: Czech Republic
109 mins
Original language: Czech

In the course of 13 years the crew has filmed 45 hours of images and recorded 90 hours of sound material. This truly unique material offers new looks behind the scenes of international politics in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, and also into events in a post-totalitarian country during its transition to democracy. Václav Havel was a key figure in the great changes that took place in central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s - the film material captures his work and influence both in his country and internationally. Among the unique events captured are Bill Clinton's visit to the Czech Republic in January 1994, including his private visit to the Reduta jazz club in Prague, the death of Havel's wife Olga and her funeral in January 1996, the celebration of Havel's 60th birthday in the Archa Theatre, Prague, in October of the same year, the forming of new governments after the 1996, 1998, and 2002 elections, and preparations for the historic 2002 NATO Summit in Prague.

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