About the European University Film Awards
Inspired by a successfully and passionately run model in Québec, the Prix collégial du cinéma québécois (PCCQ), Filmfest Hamburg and the European Film Academy (EFA) launched in 2016 the European University Film Award (EUFA) - presented and voted by European university students. The aim of this initiative is to involve a younger audience, to spread the "European idea" and to transport the spirit of European cinema to an audience of university students. It shall also support film dissemination, film education and the culture of debating. In 2019 it became an official category of the European Film Awards.
Since its First Edition in 2016 the number of participating countries grew constantly, starting from 13 universities from 13 different European countries in the first year and now seeing 25 universities from 25 countries in 2020: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom.
Based on the selection for the European Film Award 2020 five films from five European countries will be nominated for the 5th European University Film Award and be announced on September 29. These five films will be viewed and discussed in the respective university classes and each institution selects its favourite film. One student representative for each of the 25 universities will participate in a a three-day deliberation meeting in December 2020. During those three days the students will discuss all films together, exchange arguments and vote for the winner. Due to the COVID-19 situation and restrictions in Europe this deliberation meeting will be held digital.The winner will then be announced on 10 December, and be presented during this year's European Film Awards Ceremony on 12 December. The 5th European University Film Award is funded by the Minister of State for Culture and the Media.
2020 EUFA Winner - SAUDI RUNAWAY
One student representative for each of 25 universities attended a digital two-day deliberation meeting organized out of Hamburg that took place 9/10 December.
The First Day was characterized by discussing and reflecting all five films, finding arguments and describing the qualities of each film. Half-way through the results from the "national votes" – the Top 3 films (ANOTHER ROUND, CORPUS CHRISTI and SAUDI RUNAWAY) were announced and continued the journey with the students.
On the Second Day the students were developing criteria for the award. The discussion turned out to be very profound and enhancing reflecting aspects of all facets of the award: How do the films correspond to EUROPEAN, to UNIVERSITY and to FILM. The discourse was extremely rewarding for everybody. In a secret election the students to decided on the Swiss film SAUDI RUNAWAY by Susanne Regina Meures to be the winner of the 5th European University Film Award.
The jury statement:
Through Muna's eyes, SAUDI RUNAWAY's 'vlogumentary' style offers an intimate and engaged portrayal of life as a young woman in Saudi Arabia and the multitude of opposites that affect it: modernity and tradition, family love and trauma, duty and the right to choose. Susanne Regina Meures captivates us through the creative treatment of a medium we all possess, revealing its potential for a widespread empowerment. By breaking cinematic conventions and evading the clichés of the western gaze, Muna's secretive cinematography oscillates the audience between witness and eavesdropper. Uncertainty and tension are palpable throughout, but linger long-after: Muna is merely one of many.
The winner was announced during the "EFAs at Eight“, a ceremony part of the European Film Awards 2020 who were held digital. The winning director Susanne Regina Meures sent a video messages to thank the students.
Further details can be found on the EUFA website here.
2019 EUFA Winner - PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE
One student representative for each of 25 universities came to Hamburg for a two-day deliberation meeting that took place 4/5 December.
The First Day was characterized by discussing and reflecting all five films, finding arguments and describing the qualities of each film. During a boat tour the results from the "national votes" – the Top 3 films (AND THEN WE DANCED, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE and SYSTEM CRASHER) were announced and continued the journey with the students.
On the Second Day the students were developing criteria for the award. The discussion turned out to be very profound and enhancing reflecting aspects of all facets of the award: How do the films correspond to EUROPEAN, to UNIVERSITY and to FILM. The discourse was extremely rewarding for everybody.
The jury statement:
"In this film, fearless, careful and gentle storytelling creates a mythical atmosphere in which female characters depend on each other and find solace in each other's company. Central composition, a renaissance colour palette and stylized mise-en-scène all contribute to presenting every frame as a canvas painting.
Furthermore, the movie's relationship with European art and history shines a light on the local values and way of life. By breaking the hierarchy between the artist and the muse, Sciamma turns the artistic process into a moving love story."
The 4th European University Film Award went to the French film PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu) by Céline Sciamma. During a public presentation at the Studio-Kino on the same evening the winner was announced by the students and the film was shown. The award was presented as part of the 32nd European Film Awards in Berlin, at the welcome reception hosted by the Creative Europe Desk. Céline Sciamma couldn't attend the European Film Awards due to strikes in France. Because of the continuing COVID situation in Europe the award was mailed to Céline Sciamma. She was very honoured and thankful and took a photo of the award with the original painting.
Further details can be found on the EUFA website here.
2018 EUFA Winner - HAPPY AS LAZZARO
After a strong and passionate debate held by 22 students from 22 European countries in Hamburg the Italian film HAPPY AS LAZZARO (LAZZARO FELICE) by Alice Rohrwacher is the winner of the third European University Film Award (EUFA).
From the jury statement: "Alice Rohrwacher's HAPPY AS LAZZARO is an unconventional contemporary take on Italian Neorealism, shot on 16mm, that overcomes geographical and stylistic boundaries. The movie conveys the harshness of the exploitation of people in contemporary world and tackles topics such as class, poverty and ideology, through the eyes of the main character Lazzaro.
The decision has been made by Charlot Vanthournout (University of Antwerp / Belgium), Hana Pololáníková (Charles University, Prague / Czech Republic), Joachim Jelle (Aarhus University / Denmark), Lotta Laitila (University of Oulu Finland), Nina Pillet (Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3 / France), Franziska Weiler (Film University Babelsberg "Konrad Wolf" / Germany), Maria-Vaia Boufeti (University of the Aegean, Greece), Dorá Tibay (Catholic Péter-Pazmany University, Hungary), Kevin O'Shea (University College Cork / Ireland), Nemanja Milosevic (University Udine / Italy), Jort van Slooten (University Utrecht, Netherlands), Adam Teodorczyk (University of Lodz / Poland), Adél Páll (Sapientia University / Romania), Leire Muñoz Castelló (University of Basque Country / Spain), Johan Christensen (Linnaeus University / Sweden), Abel Zuchuat (University of Lausanne / Switzerland), Leia Gill (John Moores University Liverpool / Great Britain), Valerie Malcharczyk, (University Vienna/ Austria), Arína Vala Pórðardóttir (University Iceland/ Iceland), Sandra Meskauskaite (Vilnius University/Littauen), Ieva Augstkalna (Latvian Academy of Culture/Latvia), Ebru Güney (Kadir Has University/Turkey).
Further details can be found on the EUFA website here.
2017 EUFA Winner - HEARTSTONE
After a strong and passionate debate held by 19 students from 19 European countries in Hamburg the Icelandic film HEARTSTONE (Hjartasteinn) by Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson is the winner of the second European University Film Award (EUFA).
The winner was announced as part of the 30th European Film Awards in Berlin, at the welcome reception hosted by the Creative Europe Desk on December 8, 2017. The award was presented to Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson by Filmfest Hamburg director Albert Wiederspiel.
From the jury statement: "HEARTSTONE is a story about exploration of identities and growing up within an isolated Icelandic community. It highlights the pressure placed on people to conform to particular gender conventions and social norms. The film offers an individual and unique perspective on the difficulty of experiencing and suppressing same-sex attraction in small, disconnected communities. As an up and coming talent, Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson delivers an immersive story visualized by overwhelming natural landscapes and beautiful performances. It stands out not only because it is a good film, but also because it explores relevant contemporary issues within today's society.."
The jury consisted of: Samira Damato (University of Antwerp / Belgium), Alexej Fonar (Charles University, Prague / Czech Republic), Casper Ørvad Silber (Aarhus University / Denmark), Reetta Pirttikoski (University of Oulu / Finland), Salomé Thiry (Université Sorbonne Nouv. Paris 3. / France), Stine Kutschke (University of Rostock / Germany), Esmerina Hamzallari (University of the Aegean / Greece), Martin Kiss (Pázmány Péter Catholic University / Hungary), Amy Louise O'Callaghan (University College Cork / Ireland), Hed Eliahu Lasry (Sapir College / Israel), Inès Roy (University of Udine / Italy), Femke Sue van Bragt (Utrecht University / Netherlands), Zuzanna Woźniak (University of Lodz / Poland), Tamás Szabó (Sapientia University / Romania), Vanja Senicic (Singidunum University / Serbia), Andrea Landaluce (University of the Basque Country / Spain), Ida Alice Niklasson (Linnaeus University / Sweden), Océane-Marie Wannaz (Université de Lausanne / Switzerland) and Madison Coyle (Liverpool John Moores University / United Kingdom).
Further details can be found on the EUFA website here.
2016 EUFA Winner - I, DANIEL BLAKE
The winner was announced in the framework of the European Film Awards Weekend in Wrocław, at the welcome reception hosted by the Creative Europe Desk Poland and the New Horizons Association. Presented by Albert Wiederspiel, director of Filmfest Hamburg, the award was received by the film’s producer Rebecca O’Brien and the main actor Dave Johns.
The nominated films were viewed and discussed in 13 universities in 13 countries and each institution selected its favourite film. One student representative from each university then attended a two-day deliberation meeting to decide on the overall winner.
From the jury statement: "With a strong critique, Ken Loach has the courage to show what the media and the general ideology have been ignoring. It makes us question not only the tendency in society but also the connection between our existence and citizenship. Thanks to its straightforward narration, I, DANIEL BLAKE manages to show how bureaucracy and the State are involved in our lives. It puts it in a way that is accessible for all audiences to understand and is a necessary critique of the obsolete governmental apparatus that not only resonate in the United Kingdom, but in Europe as a whole."
The aim of this new initiative by the European Film Academy (EFA) and Filmfest Hamburg is to involve a younger audience, to spread the “European idea” and to transport the spirit of European cinema to an audience of university students. It shall also support film dissemination, film education and the culture of debating.
Further details can be found on the EUFA website here.
FSM MA Student Representative Accounts
2020 - Aisling O'Connell
First time debater here. Each year in December, a representative from the MA in Film and Screen Media, UCC travels to Hamburg, Germany to debate and choose a winning film for the European University Film Award. Approximately 25 European universities participate, each country sending a delegate. This year it was hosted over Zoom, which sounded nightmarish at first, however it turned out to be remarkably enjoyable and revelatory. The EUFA is now into its fifth year, an initiative started by the European Film Festival.
The participating universities all include 5 selected films in their academic programme. The selected films this year were,
Druk (Another Round) by Thomas Vinterberg , airy entertainment, Mads Mikkelsen
Berlin Alexanderplatz by Burhan Qurbani, confident adaptation, illuminates the original
Slalom by Charlene Favier, empowering play with gaze, Fishtank by Andrea Arnold does it better
Corpus Christi by Jan Komasa, punk spiritualty, compassionate purgatory
Saudi Runaway by Susanne Regina Meures, living document, assemblage of evidence
Over the course of a few weeks in the MA in Film and Screen Media, we watched, discussed and wrote about each film, as well as engaging with relevant scholarship, surrounding the industry and the filmic elements. This was new and fascinating territory for me, a largely insular filmmaker. Now I have the inside details, I must take them down!
Each university class voted and chose their top 3, and the most popular 3 films (Druk, Corpus Christi, Saudi Runaway) were up for discussion during the debate. Having never taken part in an official debate, I was convinced I would be an awkwardly expressing zoom face, failing to come up with answers quickly and then defending a film I am not in love with until death. I was surprised to find nothing of the sort happened. The organisers were incredibly efficient, and the event was very well structured. It felt like the Eurovision at times, ‘here from Ireland, we have..Aaayy ssling!’
We were split into smaller groups throughout the 2 days, getting a chance to meet everyone and the discussion was natural and genuinely engaging.
Druk was the first film to be voted out, many people felt the subject matter wasn’t pressing, it was entertaining, but didn’t merit an award. The film didn’t speak to the majority in any meaningful way. Corpus Christi was closely drawing with Saudi Runaway for a long time. There were really interesting conversations surrounding the conservatism in rural, smaller towns all over Europe, and the dissolution of religion. In the end, the message in Saudi Runaway, the courage of the protagonist and the fact it had only won 1 award (Corpus Christi has 50 plus Oscar nod) to date meant it won by about 70/30. The problematic aspects of the winner were not ignored and were discussed at length, and this was the most intense part of the debate. Championing women filmmakers and experimental documentarists were qualities that ensured Saudi Runaway got the award, a most promising thought..
The most striking thing about the 2 days for me was the feeling everything we had discussed in Film and Screen Cultures module were part of a truly European conversation and set of concerns. The questions of nationhood, transnationalism, the sly seductiveness of the ‘European ideal’. The film festival as a cultural commodity, the representation of women and women filmmakers, the changing representation of immigration, Europeanness-what is it? Filmic techniques, originality, what do the audience need from a film, what can a film say about a nation?
The discussions we had in class about these films, and the literature we engaged with truly elevated my understanding of the European film festival circuit. Having these notes were invaluable for the two days, as were the written assignments we had completed for the module. As part of the debate, delegates were required to compose jury statements. Having already written statements for each film in our module, this was a familiar assignment and something I could confidently contribute to.
As an exercise in debate, conversation and being part of a film jury, it was an invaluable experience. For something that was truly out of my comfort zone, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The delegates were all brilliant and it was intriguing to hear their different opinions and experience. Everyone shared their emails and social media at the end of the two days and are swapping film recommendations and more! I would highly recommend taking part to any future students.
Aisling O'Connell, MA in Film and Screen Media 2019-20
2018 - Kevin O'Shea
From the moment that we arrived, I felt the generous welcome offered by the facilitators of EUFA. After chaperoning us to our hostel in the heart of Hamburg, they hosted a buffet so that we could spend the evening getting to know our 21 other counterparts. Informal debates over the films began almost immediately with early favourites emerging. Dessert began with personal introductions by each representative and the sharing of sweets and treats from their respective countries. Albert Wiederspiel, director of the Film Festival Hamburg, introducing himself and his colleagues, impressed upon us the history of the award; it's standing within the EFA, its unpredictability, it's potential to make bold statements and the benefit to emerging filmmakers, actors and their careers.
The following morning we were divided into groups that were mediated by lecturers from participating Universities. Notably, Professor Pierre Fontaine, attendant as a guest, spoke about the distinctions and similarities between the EUFA and its Canadian inspiration; the Prix Collégial du Cinéma Québécois. We were then asked to discuss the five films to determine a set of principles on which to judge them. In response to Pierre, we decided to emphasise; notions of Europeanness, concerning both cinema and politics, the value of the film in an educational context, technical proficiency, and representation of women and minorities. When later, we had to narrow our choice to three, Happy as Lazzaro (2018) and Foxtrot (2017) were the clear favourites. The third position became so contested between STYX (2108) and Utøya: July 22 (2018) that our evening deadline needed extending. As a welcome relief, we took time out on a boating tour of the Port of Hamburg, but quiet debate persisted in the background. Returning to HQ Utøya won the third place nomination for its impact and formal accomplishments. There was, however, enough opposition to the film's subject on moral grounds to predict that the final debate would centre on Lazzaro and Foxtrot.
By Saturday few were still undecided marking the group debates as being particularly passionate. It was here that criteria that had been initially decided upon became most useful. In the afternoon; each representative had the opportunity to make their appeal to the entire jury. It was clear that Happy as Lazzaro would take the prize, beating Foxtrot by just three votes. All support for Utøya had dwindled to the one Norwegian representative. A jury statement was then prepared to be read out at the Studio Cinema Hamburg that evening:
‘ Happy as Lazzaro excels on a stylistic level and in its content. The unique vision of Alice Rohrwacher lets the audience breathe, develops closeness to the characters, and gets immersed in the magical realism atmosphere. With its unconventional structure and pace, the movie allows us to discover it piece by piece, thus making it a journey for the viewers. The film gives a human face to the marginalised and a voice to the voiceless and at the same time, escapes the danger of patronising them. It offers us an original and new interpretation of class, where we experience the struggle of protagonists, to break free from their oppressed position and the obstacles that hinder them.’
After the announcement, Albert made a brief speech and an acceptance video screened, featuring Luca Chikovani, the actor who played Tancredi Giovane in the film. That concluded our official duties, but a strong sense of solidarity had set. Further discussion over dinner widened to the characteristics of our national cinemas and common European identity. We each agreed to nominate our personal favourites and make a database available online.
The most rewarding part of the experience was having that level of contact with such diverse opinions, both with students and lecturers. Even though we arrived at a consensus, the process revealed a completely different set of underlying values.
Kevin O'Shea, MA in Film and Screen Media 2018-19
2017 - Amy O'Callaghan
In December 2017 I embarked on a trip to Hamburg, Germany to sit on the jury for the European University Film Award (EUFA). Launched in 2016 as a collaboration between FilmFest Hamburg and the European Film Academy, the aim of the award is simple:to involve the voices of young people in the dialogue surrounding European cinema and awards, a conversation which is normally dominated by older scholars and critics. Expanding from the original 13 universities that participated the year previously, 20 universities from across Europe took part in in 2017. Each class had to watch the top five films nominated for the award, discuss which film should win and nominate the best three. We judged Loveless (2017, Andrey Zvyagintsev), The Other Side of Hope(2017, Aki Kaurismäki), The War Show(2016, Obaidah Zytoon, Andreas Møl Dalsgaard), Home (2016, Fien Troch) and Heartstone (2016, Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson) Upon watching all the films, a delegate from each class waschosen to go to Hamburg to sit on the jury and participate in the debate as to which film should win.
The 20 students chosen came from across Europe, with the most northern country being Finland and the most southern being Israel. While one would assume we all came from courses grounded within film and media, that was actually not the case, with many coming from English, marketing and communications courses as well. The overall trip, over the course of four days, was amazing. Everyone was extremely friendly and excited to discuss the films, and the organisers of FilmFest Hamburg were forever warm and approachable, insisting on taking us on a boat trip and to a Christmas Market for us to see the city. The debates were heated but constructive, considering questions involving transnationalism, what deems a film necessarily European and whether or not we as a jury had a right to take into account not only the films’ technical achievements, but also the message they want to send to contemporary Europe. We ultimately gave the award to Heartstone, an Icelandic coming-of-age film by an up-and-coming director, Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson, that tells the story of two friends growing up in an isolated village and explores sexuality, puberty and toxic masculinity.
The overall initiative of the EUFA is important for many reasons. Not only does it give a chance for the voices of young people to be heard,but it also allowed for us all to gain an understanding of each other’s cultures and how one’s country of origin can impact and reflect on the opinions one can possess. At one point in the trip we were challenged with the task of attempting to define what European cinema is. Naturally, this was a struggle, but we eventually concluded that it is a transnational, borderless form of cinema, which I feel is conveyed in the spirit of EUFA by the the fact that at its heart it isa collaboration between various countries. As well as that, it allowed the other students and I to gain an insight into the judging process. Over the course of two days, we debated in groups, narrowing the original five films to three, and then eventually to one. We worked together to write preliminary press releases for every potential winner, and developed a concise judging criterion to which each film would be held. These tasks took us behind the scenes of the awards, providing us with a glance of what it is like to work on an awards jury, an element which I found most beneficial.
Overall, I found the experience enlightening and incredibly informative. I am delighted to have gotten the chance to sit on the jury and be involved in the judging process andalso travel to Germany and meet new people, and I consider it to be one of my highlights of 2017.
Amy O’Callaghan, MA in Film and Screen Media 2017-18
2016 - Peter Calnan
As a student on the MA Film and Screen Media at UCC, I was lucky enough to be chosen as the UCC representative to participate in the First Annual European Student Film Awards held in Hamburg in December 2016.
Film Fest Hamburg and The European Film Academy had created a new award to be presented and voted for by students across Europe. Five films, Fire At Sea (Gianfranco Rosi), Graduation (Mungiu), I, Daniel Blake (Loach), The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (Juho Kuosmanen), Toni Erdmann (Ade) were considered. The top three were voted for by film students from Universities in the 13 countries participating. Each University then sent a student representative to Hamburg to debate on the selected films.
The opening dinner took place in a self-grill style German restaurant which provided ample opportunity for people to get to know one another. In the after dinner speech, the Director of the Hamburg Film Festival, Albert Wiederspiel, spoke of the opportunity the event gave the organisers to appreciate the work they had done and to bring different cultures together, something which is beneficial for society and for the international business of film.
The next day the debate took place in the Korber Stiftung Building. We were divided into three groups to discuss each individual film and why we thought they deserved to win. The discussion was arbitrated by the lecturer of a participant from England. I presented the views of the UCC class on Olli Maki (Kousmanen) and Graduation (Mungiu). Any pre debate nerves were quickly gotten over. Each group compiled five or six points on all of the films. All the discussions were filmed.
After lunch the top three choices from the university vote were announced as I Daniel Blake, Toni Erdmann and Fire at Sea. The entire group of 13 then debated the criteria to select the winning film. It was decided that it needed to show otherness, have a universal message and unify European countries. Once the debate started there was clearly enthusiasm about every film and a large part of the debate centred on the difference between Toni Erdman and I Daniel Blake. In the end I Daniel Blake had five votes and the other two had four each. It was exceptionally close. Following the debate, we could all see more well-rounded films courtesy of having shared our perspectives.
Finally we separated into three small groups to gather notes on each film for presentation at the award ceremony. My group worked on Toni Erdmann. Five students volunteered to read the notes at the ceremony, which was held in a cinema in Hamburg. The award was designed by a student from the Portuguese representative’s university. It was statue with a built in camera which recorded the announcement of the winner. The publicity from the award added value to the promotion of I Daniel Blake.
I rose to the challenge of being an ambassador for UCC and the experience improved my self-confidence in my study of European culture, films and festivals. In spite of my nervousness about the debate I felt it was very successful and I had learnt a great deal about film and life in Europe. Attending the event provided me with an invaluable experience of meeting film students from a wide variety of cultures and unique perspectives who were at different stages of their studies both undergraduate and postgraduate. They were pursuing different types of careers in film, being directors, assistant directors and producers with all different lengths of experience.
The trip gave me a fantastic opportunity to see the beautiful city of Hamburg a highlight of which was a visit to the new Philharmonic. It is a marvellously designed building based on the Sydney Opera House and gave a spectacular view of Hamburg.
The debates and the group work provided an excellent opportunity to examine the films in depth and to see them from an international perspective and from other angle. This excellent journey informed my decision to write my master’s thesis on the Changing Representation of Women in the Films of Ingmar Bergman.
Peter Calnan, MA in Film and Screen Media 2016-17