Oscar 2007: Romania's "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" Wins Top European Film Awards

December 1, 2007–Romanian helmer Cristian Mungiu was the major winner at the 20th European Film Awards on Saturday, taking both the best picture and director prizes for his Palm d'Or winner “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.”

The film, which examines the hardships of two women during the final days of Nicolae Ceausescu's socialist regime, beat out Fatih Akin's “The Edge of Heaven”; Kevin Macdonald's “The Last King Of Scotland”; Oliver Dahan's “La Vie en Rose”; Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's “Persepolis”; Stephen Frears' “The Queen.”

There was little surprise in Helen Mirren adding another trophy to her collection after nabbing the best actress Oscar, but Sasson Gabai was an unexpected winner for his starring role in Eran Kolirin's Israeli-French comedy “The Band's Visit,” beating contenders such as James McAvoy (“Last King of Scotland”) and Ben Whishaw (“Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”).

Awards were handed out evenly at the low-key event.

Turkish-German helmer Akin won the screenplay prize for “The Edge of Heaven.”

Although Tom Tykwer's “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” failed to pick up picture or director nominations, it did win Frank Griebe the cinematography prize and Uli Hanisch production designe kudos.

Alexandre Desplat took the composer award for “The Queen” score.

Cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, who received the European Achievement in World Cinema prize, was caught off guard by an emotional video message by long-time collaborator Martin Scorsese and moved by a lengthy standing ovation.

No-shows included French icon Jean-Luc Godard, who was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The ceremony, hosted by German thesp Jan Josef Liefers and France's Emmanuelle Beart in Berlin's cavernous Arena venue, celebrated its 20th anniversary with a number of cinematic asides down memory lane as well as rocking musical accompaniment by Finish rock institution the Leningrad Cowboys, which made their first appearance in Aki Kaurismaeki's 1989 musical comedy “Leningrad Cowboys Go America.”

Opening the ceremony, German culture minister Bernd Neumann praised the state of European film and plugged the country's increasingly significant $80 million-a-year Federal Film Fund, stressing that it was accessible to European filmmakers: “Use our fund and deliver great European films.”

The financing vehicle has attracted a number of international productions to Germany. In addition to Hollywood films such as Bryan Singer's “Valkyrie” and the Wachowski's “Speed Racer,” it has also bankrolled European movies such as Ole Christian Madsen's upcoming Danish World War II drama “Flame & Citron” starring Mads Mikkelsen.

The European Film Awards, hosted in Berlin every other year, will take place in Copenhagen in 2008 and in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2010. The ceremony is produced by the European Film Academy and in cooperation with German pubcaster ZDF and European culture channel ARTE. The show is set to air in a total of 61 territories around the globe.

WINNERS FOR THE 20th EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS

FILM: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu (Romania)

DIRECTOR: Cristian Mungiu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, (Romania)

ACTRESS: Helen Mirren, The Queen (U.K.)

ACTOR: Sasson Gabai, The Bands Visit (Israel, France)

SCREENWRITER: Fatih Akin, The Edge of Heaven, (Germany)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Frank Griebe, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, (Germany, France, Spain)

PRIX D'EXCELLENCE: Uli Hanisch for Production Design, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, (Germany, France, Spain)

COMPOSER: Alexandre Desplat, The Queen (U.K.)

DISCOVERY: The Bands Visit, Eran Kolirin (Israel, France)

DOCUMENTARY – PRIX ARTE: Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers, Rithy Panh (France).

SHORT FILM – PRIX UIP: Alumbramiento, Eduardo Chapero-Jackson (Spain)

PEOPLE'S CHOICE FOR BEST EUROPEAN FILM: La Sconosciuta (The Other Woman), Giuseppe Tornatore, (Italy)

CRITICS AWARD – PRIX FIPRESCI: Private Fears in Public Places, Alain Resnais (France, Italy)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Jean-Luc Godard Achievement in World Cinema: Michael Ballhaus Prix Eurimages

CO-PRODUCER AWARD: Margaret Menegoz, Veit Heiduschka Honorary Award: Manoel de Oliveira