International Emmys: France Leads As ‘Spiral’ Wins Best Drama Series

France was the biggest single winner tonight at the International Emmy Awards, with L’hexagone taking home three statuettes during tonight’s gala at the New York Hilton. Brazil trailed close behind however, taking home two statuettes of its own.

France’s hugely popular cops-and-lawyers series Spirals (aka Engrenages) won for Drama Series for its acclaimed 5th season, which returned last year after the show’s traditional two-year break between seasons. The Man Who Saved The Louvre, featuring a mixture of documentary footage and innovative animation, won for Arts Programming. The film tells the story of Jacques Jaujard, director of the Louvre during the German Occupation and the man credited with saving priceless works of art from Nazi looters. And Soldat Blanc (White Soldier) took home the award for TV Movie/Mini Series; the film tells the story of a friendship between two French soldiers torn apart in 1945 French Indochina as the First Indochina War begins, leading to the eventual independence of Vietnam.

Brazil’s Imperio (Empire) won for Telenovela. The Globo production follows the adventures of a young man in 1989 Rio de Janero whose decision to run away with another man’s wife goes wrong, leading him to into a life of crime and power with repercussions stretching to his children. Doce de Mae (Sweet Mother) won for Comedy. The series follows Dona Picucha, an elderly woman whose stories entertain and impart life lessons, and also explores the lives of those around her. Picucha is played by Fernanda Montenegro, who to date is the only Brazilian actress to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

South Africa’s Miners Shot Down took home Best Documentary for its biting, tense look at the 2012 Marikana massacre, in which a heated confrontation between miners at a Lonmin-owned mine, and South African security forces, turned deadly, with 41 miners killed, many of them shot in the back. In the aftermath, it was discovered that the leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers, who didn’t authorize the strike, instigated the violence in cooperation with security forces. Three years later the event is still a vivid wound for the nation, as evidenced by director Rehad Desai, who visibly choked up as the audience rose for the evening’s most heartfelt ovation. “This was very hard to make,” he said simply. Asked about that afterward, Desai told Deadline that, “it took me three or four months just to recover from dealing with the footage from the massacre. I was born and raised in exile and it was all very close to me. ”

Dutch actor Maarten Heijmams won for Best Performance by an Actor for his portrayal of singer-actor Ramses Shaffy in the four-part miniseries Ramses. The series follows French-born Shaffy, who became one of the Netherlands’ most acclaimed performers, through various points of his long, hard-living career. Anneke von der Lippe won the Best Performance by an Actress award for her turn in Norway’s Eyewitness (in Øyevitne). The neo noir series in the tradition of The Bridge follows the aftermath of a mass-shooting, witnessed by two teenagers who keep their knowledge secret out of fear that the killer will come after them. Von der Lippe plays the local constable investigating the crime, who happens lao to be the mother of one of the teens.

The British reality series 50 Way To Kill  Your mammy won for best Non-Scripted Entertainment, and Arrepentidos U.S. – El Infierno de Montoya waved the banner for the U.S. for best Non-English Language U.S. Primetime Program.

Two honorary Emmys were handed out during the evening, which was presided over by Egyptian political comedian Bassem Youssef: The International Emmy Directorate Award was given to HBO CEO and Chairman Richard Plepler, who used his speech to pay tribute to fellow special award honoree Julian Fellowes. “Julian Fellowes, you’ve done something enduring and special, and you should be proud of it,” Plepler said, referencing Fellowes’ Downton Abbey. About his own network, Plepler said “we have the best team in the business, and that is the secret of HBO’s success.”

Fellowes was on hand to receive the Emmy Founders Award for a career spanning feature films (Gosford Park), novels and television including, of course, Downton, fitting as the series just concluded after 6 hugely popular and acclaimed seasons. He was introduced by series co-star Elizabeth McGovern. “[It has been] more than the acclaim,” she said, “the privilege of playing a character created by Julian Fellowes.”

Fellowes began humbled, insisting that good fortune was at the heart of his success. “I was a very late starter, convinced nothing ever would happen,” he said. “What changed things for me was luck and happenstance… I dedicate [this award] to all those men and women who have never been given the chance to show what they can do. I salute them.” He also thanked Andrew Lloyd Webber for having him write the book for the Broadway adaptation of School of Rock, against what he imagined was considerable pushback from his officemates. The show is in previews and opens December 6.

Here is the complete list of winners:

Drama Series

Spiral (Engrenages) (Season 5)

Arts Programming

The Man Who Saved The Louvre
Ladybird Films

Best Performance by an Actor

Maarten Heijmams
The Netherlands

2015 International Emmy Directorate Award – Richard Plepler, Chairman and CEO of HBO
Award presented by Michael Douglas.

Non-English Language US Primetime Program

Arrepentidos U.S. – El Infierno de Montoya
National Geographic Channel / Fox Telecolombia
United States of America

Best Performance by an Actress

Anneke von der Lippe
Eyewitness (in Øyevitne)
NRK / SVT / DR / YLE Fem / Nordvision Fund.


Miners Shot Down
Uhuru Productions
South Africa

Non-Scripted Entertainment

50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy
Burning Bright Productions / Brown Bread Productions
United Kingdom


Império (Empire)
Globo TV


Doce de Mae (Sweet Mother)
Globo TV

2015 International Emmy Founders Award – Julian Fellowes, Creator, writer – Downton Abbey
Award presented by Elizabeth McGovern.

TV Movie / Mini-Series

Soldat Blanc (White Soldier)
Breakout Films / Canal+ Creation originale

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