Irish-UK Producer and European Film Academy Chairman Mike Downey, Honoured with the Kristián Lifetime Achievement Award, at Prague International Film Festival - Febiofest


    The Award, will be presented tonight at the opening of the festival by British film and  theatre director, three times Academy Award nominee, Stephen Daldry 

    picture: EFA/Getty Images

    “In the difficult times which we are all experiencing,” says Downey, “I’m delighted that my  career as a European producer and as Chair of the European Film Academy is being  recognised in this way, by the Prague International Film Festival. I have made half a dozen  films in Prague, and have great memories of living in the city. We have two major  international tsunamis of human rights abuses in both Myanmar and Afghanistan. So I would  like to accept this award and dedicate it to those film makers who are still behind bars in  Myanmar. The coup of February of this year has locked up hundreds of artists and we all need  to work tirelessly for their release. But equally, I also want to dedicate it to all those film  makers in hiding in Afghanistan. Waiting under the most difficult and dangerous conditions,  to find a way out of a place that just became hell for them after 20 years of relative freedom of thought and expression.”

    Downey, who has been a member of EFA since 2000 and a member of the board for nigh on  two decades was also recently appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire 

    (O.B.E.) in Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday 2021 Honours List. This honour is in recognition of  his services to cinema. 

    Previous recipients of the award include Bruno Ganz, Peter Weir, Alan Rickman, Helmut  Berger, Richard Lester, Peter Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Charles Aznavour, Bille August,  Arnaud Desplechin, Carlos Saura, Emir Kusturica, Daniel Olbrychski, Geraldine Chaplin,  

    Otar Ioseliani, Wim Wenders, Olivier Assayas, Catherine Denueve, Roman Polanski, , Jean Jacques Annaud, Krzystof Zanussi, Kim Novak, Agnieszka Holland, Carmen Maura, Marco  Bellochio, Peter Morgan, Giancarlo Giannini, Jerzy Stuhr, Jeremy Thomas, Sandrine  Bonnaire, Leos Carax, and Mike Leigh  

    Downey was the founder, with producing partner Samantha Taylor, of Film and Music  Entertainment (F&ME) in 2000 as part of an IPO on the Frankfurt DAX after careers in  publishing and theatre and has production credits on around 100 feature films, the lion’s share  of which are multi-party European co-productions with partners the length and breadth of  Europe. In 2016, Downey founded Film and Music Entertainment (IRE) to work in parallel  with the UK entity. Its latest production, CHARLATAN by Agnieszka Holland, was  shortlisted for this year’s US Academy Awards. 

    His work as a filmmaker has seen projects developed with novelists James Ellroy, the late  Günter Grass, and Thomas (Schindler’s List) Keneally; IDA writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Vice Group founder and CEO Shane Smith, as well as directors like Volker Schlöndorff, Mohsen  Makhmalbaf, Lech Majewski, Peter Greenaway, Julien Temple, Paweł Pawlikowski, Andrzej  Jakimowski, Rajko Grlić, Srđan Karanović, Juraj Jakubisko, Friðrik Þór Friðriksson, and  Stephen Daldry; and writers of the ilk of Lee Hall, Colm Tóibín, and David Grossman. 

    Last year, Downey was part of the team that launched the International Coalition for  Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) at the Venice Film Festival. The ICFR aims to activate the film  community’s collective response to filmmakers who face political persecution for their work.  Downey is a founder and board member, and the European Film Academy, the International  Film Festival Rotterdam, and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam are the  founding partners of the ICFR, with activities that include advocacy, support, monitoring, and  observation.  

    Downey is currently a member of the BAFTA Council having previously served two terms  and in 2008 he was a member of the BAFTA Film Committee and an active member of the  Asia Pacific Screen Academy. In September 2020 it was announced that Downey would be  the Honorary President of the 2020/2021 jury for the revamped LUX Prize, renamed LUX – 

    the European Audience Film Award by the European Parliament and the European Film  Academy (also known as LUX Audience Award). Previous retrospectives of his career have  taken place in Zagreb (2009), Prague (2015) and Fort Lauderdale (2014).