Greek-French film director Costa Gavras was honoured with a lifetime achievement award by the European Film Academy (EFA) at the 31st European Film Awards held in Seville’s Teatro de la Maestranza last Saturday.
EFA’s prestigious Honorary Award was presented to Gavras by German filmmaker Wim Wenders who praised the recipient saying that “his actions and his life are an inspiration” with his films driving a desire to change the world.
“It’s a big emotion and a big honour. I want to thank Wim and the Academy because they give an example on what Europe should be,” Gavras said during his speech, dedicating the award to his wife.
“Europe is in a bad state today. But being here tonight, we realise that we can all be together, coming from different countries, different cultural backgrounds and with different films, while accepting one another. And this is how we should be moving forward.”
The Academy’s statement paid special tribute to the director for his strong political voice, earning him the respect of his colleagues and establishing him as an artist celebrated by audiences worldwide.
Gavras is only the fifth filmmaker to receive the lifetime achievement award.
Born in the province of Arcadia, Greece, in 1933, Gavras migrated to France at the age of 21 where he studied literature and film and became a citizen two years later.
In 1965, he made his directorial debut with the film The Sleeping Car Murderers starring Simone Signoret and Yves Montand.
But Gavra’s breakthrough came with his third film, the acclaimed political thriller Z released in 1969, which received five Oscar nominations and won two – Best Film Editing and Best Foreign Language Film.
Portraying the story of an anonymous country’s political struggle against an oppressive regime, the plot was a direct reference to Greece’s military junta at the time.
Gavras is credited for helping establish the genre of popular political thriller, with his work known for covering the world’s most acute crises, from dictatorships in South America and the Middle East conflict to the turbulence of financial markets and the plight of refugees.
His upcoming film will be based on Yianis Varoufakis’ book “Adults in the Room”, in which Greece’s former finance minister details his encounters with the EU elite, in his efforts to negotiate the bailout programme imposed by the country’s lenders.
Meanhile, during the EFA’s award ceremony, founders of Athens-based film production company Heretic, Konstantinos Kontovrakis and Giorgos Karnavas, received the Eurimages Co-Production Αward.
Established under the auspices of the Council of Europe, the award aims to encourage international co-production in film-making.
It is the first time the award is won by a Greek production company.