Costa-Gavras to Be Honored for Lifetime Achievement at European Film Awards

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016 file photo, Greek-French film director Costa Gavras poses before the screening of the movie Leon Morin, pretre (Leon Morin, priest) as part of the festival Toute la memoire du monde, in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

NEW YORK – Greek director Costa-Gavras, best known for political thrillers, including the iconic Z, will be honored on December 15 by the European Film Academy at the 31st Annual European Film Awards in Seville, Spain, according to a report in The Hollywood Reporter (THR). The director will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, becoming only the fifth filmmaker so honored by the Academy. Manoel de Oliveira, Michel Piccoli, Michael Caine, and Andrzej Wajda are the other four previous honorees in this exclusive group.

“With this award the European Film Academy wishes to pay special tribute an outstanding director and a personality with a strong political voice who is not only deeply respected by his colleagues but also celebrated by audiences worldwide,” the Academy said, THR reported.

Born in Loutra Iraias, Arcadia in 1933, Gavras moved to France following high school and studied law before becoming a filmmaker. The highly-charged 1969 political drama Z, a disguised treatment about the murder of Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis brought the Greek director international acclaim. His films often include provocative elements tied to political themes.

The antithesis of the Hollywood spirit of “happily ever after,” Gavras’ riveting political thrillers have played a role in driving social and political progress. Z, produced outside Greece during the time of the notorious Junta, was based on the political novel of the same title by Vassilis Vassilikos, which was inspired by the 1963 murder of Lambrakis by shadowy right wing elements with ties to the Greek security establishment.

Just as Z, which shed light on the overthrow of democracy in the land of its birth while the Junta ruled, his 2012 movie, Le Capital, exposed the excesses of finance capitalism even as the Greek crisis unfolded and the “memorandum” of banker-driven austerity retains its choke-hold on the people.

One of the main themes of Gavras’ work is that humanity has been changed through people’s power to resist tyranny and is improving. The international impact of Gavras’ films is clear as they tackle issues of power and authority and how they pass into tyranny, how money changes people, the authority of the Church, the Vatican’s intervention – or failure to intervene – in the holocaust and its power to suppress the truth.

In his illustrious career, Gavras has received several international awards. Z was nominated for five Oscars and won two, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Editing. Among his other acclaimed films, Missing (1982) was nominated for four Oscars and won Best Adapted Screenplay for Gavras and  Donald E. Stewart as well as the 1982 Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In the 1989 Gavras film Music Box, Jessica Lange playing a lawyer defending her father for alleged war crimes and received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

Gavras is expected to attend the European Film Awards in Seville to accept his Lifetime Achievement Award as a guest of honor at the event, THR reported.

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