Photo: Damil Kalogjera

Mike Downey


The Essence of Our Work

Already last year we wondered if we could have ever imagined to have our most important annual gathering online, and little did we know that the 34th European Film Awards would be celebrated virtually again. Again, this year was marked by a changing of habits, growing accustomed to limitations, being vaccinated multiple times a year —and a continuous hope for things to get better soon. What hasn’t changed is seeing planned projects be delayed or cancelled, and wondering what the future might look like. It hasn’t been an easy year at all.

Luckily many of us were able to see each other again, and it felt better than ever before. In times like these, we have realised even more that community is key, and that solidarity and support are words that gain strength when put into action. We have experienced that plans are great but can be changed by unexpected events that are completely out of our control. It doesn’t necessarily make the plans less valuable, but it forces us to rethink, restructure, and restart them – often in a more creative way, sometimes with a new urgency.

Even more than ever, essential topics the European Film Academy has been fighting for, such as support of filmmakers facing political opposition or even persecution, were at the centre of our attention this year. Our International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (with our festival partners in Amsterdam and Rotterdam) was involved in the cases of filmmakers in Egypt, Indonesia, and Myanmar, and has been working behind the scenes on the crisis in Afghanistan and the plethora of filmmakers affected by the sudden regime change endangering their lives. The experiences of this year will help us to further develop the work of ICFR and put it on a new level.

Change has been a leitmotiv of 2021. With the arrival of Agnieszka Holland as the new President of the European Film Academy and Matthijs Wouter Knol as its new CEO and Director, several plans and projects have been put on the agendas. The Academy is accelerating itself into an organisation that is strategically adapting itself to the quickly changing world we are living and working in. Together, we have put our weight behind a more diverse and inclusive Academy, continue to position ourselves as a strong partner in Europe and actively build its community by helping to bring people together in times that show us this – the essence of our work.

We know that we can make the Award ceremony in Berlin work successfully online. Last year proved that. The whole Academy team has been working towards multiple scenarios for the event for months now. We look forward to shining a light on the crème de la crème of European cinema in Berlin on 11 December. And to add some famous last words: Roll on 2022 and the fair city of Reykjavik.