European Film Awards

European Film Awards
The European Film Awards are presented annually to recognize the greatest achievements in the European film industry. They were inaugurated in 1998 as the European counterpart to the Academy Awards. The awards were also known as the Felix Awards until 1997, in reference to the trophy statuette.

Despite the abundance of prestigious film festivals and film awards in Europe, there were no awards that recognized excellence in European cinematic achievements until 1988. All existing awards were national. In 1988, 40 filmmakers from all over Europe founded the European Film Academy to promote European film culture worldwide. The Academy’s main founder and first president was Ingmar Bergman, an outstanding Swedish film director. That same year, the Academy inaugurated the Felix Awards.

The awards and the statuette were named after a small cafe in Cannes, France, where the idea was born during the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. The Felix statuette was made of bronze and mounted on a brass base. The trophy was designed by a German primitivist sculptor. It was specifically designed as different from the Oscar statuette as possible in order to emphasize the difference in the aesthetics and ideology of the two awards.

The inaugural Felix Awards ceremony was held in West Berlin in November 1988, about a year before the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany. It was a symbolic gesture which aimed to emphasize the unifying nature of cinema. The awards ceremony became an annual event, but in the mid-1990s its popularity and prestige began to decline. So the Academy rebranded the awards, chancing their name and the design of the trophy.

The European Film Awards are the first in the annual international awards calendar. It is believed that the European Film Awards winners have higher chances to win an Academy Award or a Golden Globe Award. As of 2016, the awards are presented in 22 categories. The most prestigious nomination is the Best European Film. Most winners are determined by a vote of the Academy Members, but the winners of the People’s Choice Award are determined by a popular vote.

The European Film Awards ceremony is held every December. The host cities alternate every year. From 1995 onwards, Berlin hosts the ceremony on odd years as a nod to the inaugural Felix Awards while other European cities get the chance on even years. Since the awards’ inception, the ceremony has been held in Germany (Berlin, Potsdam, Bochum), France (Paris), the UK (Glasgow, London), Italy (Rome), Spain (Barcelona), Poland (Warsaw, Wroclaw), Denmark (Copenhagen), Estonia (Tallinn), Malta (Valletta), and Latvia (Riga).

European Film Awards

Photo: EFA/API/Jessica Kassner


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