“Welcome” wins the Lux Prize

Labour Party

It’s always good to announce a winner.  This is exactly what the President of the European Parliament, Mr Buzek, did this morning.  Amid much Oscar style drama complete with sealed envelope, the full parliamentary sitting was informed thatWelcome” had made it despite fierce competition.  As President Buzek so rightly said, every one of the three short listed films – “Eastern Plays”, “Sturm” as well as “Welcome” was a winner, though only one, of course, could take the prize.   

Although I blogged earlier about the Lux prize, just to remind you that it is an annual event, albeit a new one; this is, in fact, only the third time the prize has been awarded.  The criteria for the prize are that the films deal with issues important to Europe, and that the prize itself breaks down language barriers.  To this end, the winning film, “Welcome” will be distributed with subtitles in every official EU language.  I very much hope that some of you will see the film as it is well worthwhile, dealing as it does with immigration in Europe and the hopes and fears of those newly arrived in the continent.

I also hope you will be able to see the two others, “Eastern Plays” which deals with neo-Nazism and “Sturm” about witnesses at the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague.

The LUX Prize

Labour Party

lux09_competition_enThe Culture and Education Committee spent part of this morning hearing from the directors and production teams of the three films which have been shortlisted for the annual European Parliament LUX prize.  All three are excellent films dealing with difficult and controversial subjects; choosing a winner will be a very difficult task.

The LUX Prize was established in 2007 as a tangible symbol of the European Parliament’s commitment to the European film industry and its creative endeavours.

The three competing films for the 2009 LUX Prize are at the very heart of the European public debate.  Eastern Plays by Kamen Kalev, Sturm by Hans-Christain Schmid and Welcome by Philippe Lioret are three remarkable contemporary films chosen by a panel of 17 cinema professionals appointed by the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament, and unvieled last September under the auspices of the 66th Venice International Film Festival.  They were part of the 2009 LUX Prize Official Selection made up of the seven other following films:

  • 35 Rhums by Glaire Denis
  • Ander by Roberto Castón
  • Ein Augenblick Freiheit by Arash T. Riahi
  • Katalin Varga by Caroline Strubb
  • Nord by Rune Denstad Langlo
  • Pandora’s Box by Yesmin Ustagaolu

Eastern Plays

eastern_plays imageTwo brothers who have lost all contact are suddenly brought together when they have opposite roles in a racist beating: while Georgi who’s recently joined a neonazi group participates in the violence, Itso witnesses and rescues the Turkish family. Georgi, now being asked to participate in larger events, starts to question his implication in the movement and Itso wonders if the beautiful Turkish girl he saved could be his ticket out from his sad life in Sofia. Only by reuniting will the two brothers be able to assess what they really want from life.


sturm iomageHannah Maynard, a prosecutor at The Tribunal in The Hague manages to convince a young Bosnian woman to testify against an alleged war criminal. Amidst the inconsistency of political interests and threats coming from Bosnian Serb nationalists, she realizes that her opponents not only sit on the dock across from her, but are also found in her own ranks. Hannah faces the trial of her life, all of a sudden torn between her strong beliefs in the system and her loyalty towards the witness.


welcome imageSimon works as an instructor and lifeguard at the Calais swimming pool. To impress his wife and win her back, he decides to take a big risk, when he secretly helps out a young Kurdish refugee who wants to swim across the English channel.

The final decision as to who is awarded the LUX prize will be decided by a vote of MEPs.

My real hope is that all the shortlisted films will be widely disseminated throughout Europe and, hopefully, even further afield.  The kind of talent shown by these film makers deserves a wide and appreciative audience.