Polanski's 'Ghost Writer' steals the show at Europe's Oscars

Roman Polanski's political thriller "The Ghost Writer" swept the board Saturday at the European Film Awards, the continent's version of the Oscars.

The movie won six of the seven categories in which it had been nominated, including best film.

Polanski, meanwhile, was named best director, to add to the Silver Bear he won at the Berlin International Film Festival in February on the film's world premiere.

"This is too much. Thank you very much again to all my peers," Polanski, who did not attend the gala ceremony, said in a live Internet link-up with the venue in the Estonian capital Tallinn.

"I thank my colleagues, the wonderful crew we had, it was an international effort," he added.

French-Polish Polanski, 76, had been unable to collect his Berlin award in person.

At the time, the Oscar-winning director of "The Pianist" was under house arrest in Switzerland. He had been detained in September 2009 as he arrived for a film festival in Zurich, on a US extradition request over a 1977 case of sex with a 13-year-old girl in California.

Switzerland finally rejected the US request and released him in July.

Asked about Polanski's absence Saturday, organiser Tiina Lokk told Estonian television: "Would you have wanted us to become famous for turning Polanski in?"

Estonian authorities, however, had said Polanski could attend unhindered, noting that under the Baltic state's law the statute of limitations in the case had expired.

Based on bestseller "The Ghost" by Robert Harris - who won the script award jointly with Polanski on Saturday - his film features Pierce Brosnan as a former British prime minister modelled on Tony Blair being probed for war crimes over the torture of terror suspects.

He hires a ghost writer played by Ewan McGregor - winner of the best actor award - to shape up his memoirs but the hired scribe soon stumbles upon a deadly web of transatlantic intrigue.

"I had a fantastic time making this film," McGregor said in a video message from the Thai set of his latest movie, "The Impossible".

"More than any other part I've played, I feel like the director, Roman Polanski has his hands really on my performance and is as worthy of this award as I am. So I would say thank you to him," he added.

The film's other awards went to Albrecht Konrad for the production design, and composer Alexandre Desplat for the score.

"Lebanon", a hard-hitting Israeli war drama which had had five nominations including best film, earned director Samuel Moaz the discovery award.

The 2009 Golden Lion winner at the Venice Film Festival is based on 48-year-old Maoz's painful memories as a tank-gunner during Israel's 1982 offensive in Lebanon.

"It's a bit unusual to be discovered when you're nearly 50. I guess this shows it's never too late," said Moaz in his acceptance speech.

"Lebanon" won two awards, the second for cinematographer Giora Bejach.

France's Sylvie Testud was named best actress for her role in "Lourdes".

Swiss-born Bruno Ganz, 69, known internationally for his landmark portrayal of Adolf Hitler in 2004's "Der Untergang" (Downfall), received a lifetime achievement award.

The European Film Awards were launched in 1988.

The winners are chosen by the 2,300-strong European Film Academy, whose members include actors, critics, directors and producers.

The annual award ceremony rotates between the academy's home Berlin, and other European cities.

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