Welcome wins 2009 LUX Film Prize - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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Welcome wins 2009 LUX Film Prize

Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Welcome, the story of a young Iraqi Kurd attempting to immigrate to the United Kingdom, a production under the direction of Frenchman Philippe Lioret, has scooped the 2009 European Parliament LUX Film Prize.

Director of Welcome Philippe Lioret receives the 2009 LUX prize (Photo: EP Press Service)

Prior to awarding the prize during an interruption to the Strasbourg Plenary Session on Wednesday (25th), EP President Jerzy Buzek said that "the LUX prize is a young and forward-looking initiative.”

“We want the medium of film to spark debate on subjects that attract public attention in the EU Members,” he said “and give rise to questions that can be of relevance to us all, questions that are also relevant to this Parliament.”

Graciously accepting the award Mr Lioret told the members in the hemicycle that “the impact the film had on French society made me change. We started as filmmakers and then turned into citizens.”

In the film, 18-year old Bilal (played by Firat Ayverdi) arrives in Calais attempting to cross to England to rejoin his girlfriend. However, he has no permit to enter England and has failed in his attempt to smuggle his way in illegally in the back of a haulage truck.

While hopelessly gazing across the Channel one morning, he formulates a new plan; to swim, immediately uses his limited money to take up swimming lessons at the local pool. It is there that he meets Simon (Vincent Lindon), an instructor, lifeguard and a former national swimming champion, who has problems of his own. In the process of being divorced by his wife, he is depressed and in light of the young Kurd's determination for love decides to take a big risk and try to train Bilal to enable him to swim the Channel.

The film, which has seen huge success at the French box office and Mr Loiret commented had “resonated with the French people”, has even led to the French Government to reconsider its own ruling on assistance to such people in ‘precarious situations’.

DVD in 23 languages

The €87,000 prize will help to finance the subtitling of the winning film into the 23 official EU languages and contribute to the production of a 35 mm print per EU country and DVD release. The hope is that it will be more accessible to viewers throughout the Union.

Since 2007, the European Parliament has supported the European film industry by awarding the prize annually.

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