NEW YORK (AP) — France had a big night Monday at the International Emmys with a leading three awards, led by the hit crime thriller "Engrenages" ("Spiral") which won for best drama series. Brazil received two Emmys, with "Doce de Mae" ("Sweet Mother") chosen the best comedy.
The highlight of the awards ceremony at the Hilton New York came when "Downton Abbey" creator and writer Julian Fellowes was presented the honorary International Emmy Founders Award.
The timing was fitting with the British period drama due to wrap up its sixth and final season with a Christmas Day finale on Britain's ITV. PBS is set to begin airing the final season in the U.S. on Jan. 3.
Elizabeth McGovern, who stars as Lady Cora, and the show's executive producer Gareth Neame presented the award to Fellowes.
"Downton Abbey," depicting the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants amid the backgrdop of such historical events as the sinking of the Titanic and World War I, has become won of the world's most popular TV shows.
This year saw an end to Britain's past dominance at the International Emmys, created to honor excellence in television programming outside the U.S. This year 40 nominees from 19 countries were competing in 10 categories.
Britain's only win came in the non-scripted entertainment category for "50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy," in which thrill-seeking Irish TV presenter Baz Ashmawy cajoles his 71-year-old mother into doing daredevil stunts such as skydiving and alligator wrangling.
The best actor award went to Maarten Heijmans of the Netherlands for "Ramses," which chronicles the rise and fall of the popular Dutch singer and actor Ramses Shaffy. Norway's Anneke von der Lippe won the best actress Emmy for "Eyewitness" in which she plays a police chief in a small town caught in the middle of a murder investigation.
"Engrenages," which offers a realistic look at the French judicial system from police detectives to lawyer and judges, was a previous International Emmy nominee, but won for its fifth season in which its heroes try to unravel the double-murder of a mother and child as they plunge into a world of organized crime, drugs and girl gangs.
"Soldat Blanc" ("White Soldier"), about two young soldiers in Saigon whose friendship is shattered when they end up on opposite sides in the post-World War II Viet Minh insurgency against French colonial rule, took the Emmy for best TV movie/mini-series.
The other French winner was "Illustre & Inconnu: Comment Jacques Jaujard a Sauve le Louvre" ("The Man Who Saved the Louvre") about the French National Museums director who organized a resistance group to keep thousands of artworks out of the Nazis' hands during World War II.
The comedy winner, "Doce de Mae," stars veteran Brazilian actress Fernanda Montenegro as an aging matriarch who dispenses wisdom to her family. She won the International Emmy for the same role in 2013 and was among this year's actress nominees.
Brazil's "Imperio" ("Empire"), about a man who becomes wealthy by smuggling precious stones only to see his empire collapse, received the Emmy for best telenovela.
South Africa's "Miners Shot Down," which covers the the 2012 Marikana massacre in which security forces fatally shot 34 miners on a wildcat strike, took the Emmy in the documentary category.
"Arrepentidos - El Infierno de Montoya," the story of a once successful Colombian actor who ends up in prison after agreeing to become a drug mule, won in the category for non-English language U.S. Primetime program.
Michael Douglas, who won a Primetime Emmy for his portrayal of flamboyant pianist Liberace in the HBO film "Behind the Candelabra," presented the honorary International Emmy Directorate Award to Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO of HBO.
The awards ceremony, organized by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, was hosted by Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef, dubbed "the Jon Stewart of the Arab world."
Follow Charles J. Gans at www.twitter.com/chjgans