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Malta to host ‘European Oscars’ in 2012

Sean Connery is a past recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo: AFP

Sean Connery is a past recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo: AFP

Malta will host the prestigious European Film Academy Awards – known as the ‘European Oscars’ – in 2012, the Finance Ministry and Malta Film Commission announced yesterday.

“This will be an unprecedented event for Malta, and the first time that an international entertainment event of this calibre will be held on the island and covered extensively overseas. It also serves to consolidate Malta’s steadily growing visibility and reputation within the international film industry,” Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said.

The annual ceremony recognises achievements in European cinema during the previous year in 15 categories, including European Film, European Director, European Actress and European Actor.

A Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a European star from the world of film, with Judi Dench, Sean Connery, Ennio Morricone, Jean-Luc Godard and Roman Polanski among the previous recipients.

The red carpet event is held during the first weekend of December, with Berlin – the seat of the academy Secretariat – hosting the ceremony every other year.

Previous cities to host the awards include London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Warsaw and Copenhagen. This year’s ceremony was held yesterday in Tallinn, Estonia.

The ceremony is televised via satellite to over 50 countries, reaching millions of viewers across the continent.

The awards are the first in the film industry’s awards season and winners of the Best European Film Category often go on to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

Film Commissioner Luisa Bonello explained that the Malta Film Commission submitted Malta’s bid to host the 2012 ceremony in 2009, and was subsequently shortlisted along with another unnamed city.

Following a visit to Malta by the academy’s directors earlier this year, the country was recommended to the academy’s board for their final decision and the Malta Film Commission received the news that its bid was successful shortly after.

Ms Bonello said: “This presents a unique opportunity to develop Malta’s relationship with the academy and subsequently promote the country to the event’s illustrious international audience, as well as provide Malta’s industry participants with the opportunity to interact with the academy and its members.”

The prestigious nature of the awards and the invariable high quality of the productions nominated, as well as the calibre of the film-makers involved, will allow for further exposure to the top echelons of the European film industry, she added.

The European Film Academy is Europe’s foremost film organisation, and its membership is comprised of almost 2,000 European film professionals with the common aim of promoting European film culture.

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