Spanish language film Volver has won in five of the six categories it received nominations in at the European film awards.
But at a glittering ceremony in Polish capital Warsaw, the Pedro Almodovar directed movie lost out on the biggest prize as Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) claimed the best European film.
The Cold War drama is about the Stasi secret police in East Germany.
Almodovar and star Penelope Cruz could at least take comfort in the individual awards they took home for best director and best actress respectively.
An emotional Cruz dedicated her win to the film's director, saying: "Thank you so much for giving me the chance to play this part. You have changed my career and my life."
The European film awards, now in their 19th year, are seen by many as the continent's answer to the Oscars.
Roman Polanski picked up a lifetime achievement award in the country where he spent his youth.
"It's a moving moment for me, of course, to receive this award, and particularly to receive it in Warsaw," he said.
"Tonight arriving here I felt very happy and I realised that every time I come to this city I feel somehow elated. For some strange reason, only good things happen to me in this city."
European film academy awards 2006
Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)
Pedro Almodovar for Volver
Penelope Cruz in Volver
Ulrich Muhe in Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)
Barry Ackroyd for The Wind that Shakes the Barley and Jose Luis Alcaine for Volver
Floria Henckel von Donnersmarck for Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)
Alberto Iglesias for Volver
Lifetime achievement award
People's choice award for best film