NEW YORK — Britain’s Sean Bean and Brazil’s Fernanda Montenegro took the top acting honors Monday night at the 41st International Emmy Awards in which the statues were spread among TV productions from six countries.
The highlight of the awards ceremony came when Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in the latest “Star Trek” films, presented the honorary International Emmy Founders Award to writer-director-producer J.J. Abrams, who took a break from pre-production work on the new “Star Wars” film.
Abrams, who helped create such trend-setting TV series as “Felicity,” “Alias,” and “Lost,” paid tribute to his actors and production crews as well as his family. He credited his father, TV executive Gerald W. Abrams with teaching him “about leadership, tenacity and getting things done at all costs” and his wife, Katie McGrath,” for “her support and brutal honesty” and encouraging him early on to write “about things that I care about,” which led him to create his first television script for “Felicity.”
Britain garnered three International Emmys at the ceremony at the Hilton New York hosted by British comedian John Oliver, formerly of “The Daily Show.”
Brazil and France had two apiece, while Australia, South Korea and Germany each got one award. The 36 nominees represented 19 countries, including first-timers Angola and Uruguay. Bean, best known for his roles in “The Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones,” won the best actor award for his role in an episode of the crime anthology series “Accused.” Bean portrayed a shy English literature teacher with a secret alter-ego of a flamboyant transvestite who gets involved in an affair with a married man that leads to a brutal crime of passion. The veteran actor said he was especially “delighted” because “I’ve never actually won anything before.”
Earlier on the red carpet, Bean said he took on the against-type role because it’s something he’s “always kind of aspired to — playing diversity and different characters.”
“I guess that’s what excites us as actors and this was a wonderful opportunity for me to display another side of my character,” he said.
Britain’s “Moone Boy,” about a young Irish boy who survives his chaotic family life with the help of an imaginary grown-up pal, won in the comedy category. The British documentary “Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender,” which focuses on the late rock singer’s solo projects outside of Queen, tied for the arts programming award with South Korea’s “Hello?! Orchestra,” in which violist Richard Yongjae O’Neill conducts an orchestra of children like himself from multicultural families.
Montenegro, who received an Oscar nomination for the 1998 film “Central Station,” was chosen best actress for her role in “Doce de Mae” (“Sweet Mother”) in which she plays an 85-year-old woman who wishes to live independently and take on new experiences, like dancing. She called it “a special moment in my professional life” and shared the honor with her director and cast mates — “the wonderful, marvelous actors from Brazil.”
The telenovela award went to Brazil’s “Lado a Lado” (“Side By Side”), which tells the story of two women — one a descendant of former slaves and the other from an aristocratic family — who become friends in Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Emmy for best drama series went to the French zombie thriller “Les Reve-nants” (“The Returned”), about a small alpine village that is rocked when several people presumed dead suddenly reappear at their homes as ghostly characters in human form.
In the documentary category, the French production “5 Broken Cameras,” co-directed by Palestinian Emad Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidi, took the prize. The film, which was nominated for a best documentary feature Oscar earlier this year, was shot by Burnat, a Palestinian farmer, and depicts life and non-violent resistance in a West Bank village. It is structured in chapters around the destruction of each of his cameras.
“It’s a big honor to be the first Palestinian to win an Emmy award,” said Burnat. “This means a lot to me and my people in Palestine. I made this film to ... share my story with you and all the world. We want what you want — peace and liberty. We want a good future for our kids so we need your support and your help. Free Palestine.”
The award for non-scripted entertainment went to Australia’s “Go Back to Where You Came From — Series 2,” in which six high-profile Australians of differing political views see the world through the eyes of refugees — visiting conflict zones, a refugee camp and an Australian detention center for asylum-seekers.
Executive Producer Michael Cordell thanked “all the refugees and asylum-seekers whose stories were told” and called it “a real honor to bring their stories to a really wide audience.”
Germany’s “Das Wunder von Karnten” (“A Day for a Miracle”), a true story about a young cardiovascular surgeon who made medical history by saving the life of a 4-year-old Austrian girl considered clinically dead after spending 30 minutes under water, took the award in the TV movie/mini-series category.
World heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko presented the honorary International Emmy Directorate Award to Germany’s Anke Schaferkordt, co-CEO of leading European broadcaster RTL Group and a big boxing fan. Klitschko noted that RTL had broadcast his fights, saying that “out of regular boxing matches they created events and out of boxers they made legends.”
The celebrity presenters included “Boardwalk Empire” star Michael K. Williams, Sarita Choudhury of “Homeland,” “Person of Interest” star Jim Caviezel, Jeffrey Tambor of “Arrested Development,” and film comedy star Steve Guttenberg.
The awards, presented by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, honor excellence in television programming outside the U.S.