Runaway French screen success Amelie, a whimsical fantasy about a young woman who sets out to make folks happy, itself got lucky Saturday, winning top prize as best film at this year's European Film Awards in Berlin.
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet was named best director at the 14th annual awards, which bill themselves as the European Oscars.
British actor Ben Kingsley took the prize for best male actor for his role in the British-Spanish film Sex Beast, and France's Isabelle Huppert became best actress for The Pianist, directed by Austria's Michael Haneke.
British comic troupe Monty Python and Scottish actor Ewan McGregor received achievement awards.
The Berlin-based European Film Academy linking 1,000 filmmakers from 30 European countries has set itself the task of fighting for the future of European cinema.
Amelie -- its French title is "Le fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulain" -- is a whimsical drama set in the Montmartre district of Paris. In addition to France, it has already conquered audiences in Germany, Spain and Britain. An estimated 10 million cinemagoers have so far seen it.
It tells the story of a young woman who sets out to make people happy without them knowing about it. The movie stars Audrey Tautou as Amelie and Mathieu Kassovitz as the mysterious dreamer Nino.
The movie's massive success at home and abroad this year came at a time when French cinema is once again dominating its home market after a period when it lost out heavily to Hollywood.
Amelie also won the People's Choice awards -- determined by an Internet vote -- for best film, best screenplay, and best camerawork.
The European Film Academy has presented the prestigious European Film Awards since 1988.
According to the academy's web site, the internationally recognized awards are a celebration of European cinema in its widest sense.
Britain's Monty Python team and McGregor received special achievement awards. Monty Python, the troupe behind such comedy classics as The Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life, received a lifetime achievement award.
McGregor, star of Trainspotting, was honored for his role in Moulin Rouge, which the academy called a European contribution to world cinema, although it has not done very well as the box office.
In the film directed by Baz Luhrmann, McGregor plays a lovestruck poet and songwriter who falls for Satine, played by Nicole Kidman, a courtesan who dreams of becoming a great actress -- AFP
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