Colombian director Laura Mora’s coming-of-age drama “Kings of the World” has won the Golden Shell for Best Picture at the San Sebastian Film Festival, the third consecutive year that a female filmmaker has won the top prize at Spain’s festival.
The film, Mora’s second feature, is a raw, unusual coming-of-age drama, where the sentimentality that tends to dominate that genre is replaced by frenzied, even surreal, energy in the story of five Medellin street children who move out of the city. venture into the jungle in search of ancestral land. It premiered in the closing days of the party and proved popular with critics, but nevertheless represents an underdog victor in a competition with established names such as Sebastian Lelio, Hong Sangsoo and Christophe Honoré.
Instead, youth dominated the list of winners, with freshman American filmmaker Marian Mathias winning the second special jury prize for her feature film debut “Runner,” while a trio of adolescent performers took home the festival’s gender-neutral acting awards. The award for Best Leading Role was shared by two youngsters: Spanish newcomer Carla Quílez for her astonishing breakthrough as a pregnant 14-year-old in Pilar Palomero’s intimate character study “La Maternal,” and French newcomer Paul Kircher as a grieving high school student in the Toronto Honoré’s premiere ‘Winter Boy’. The supporting award went to an even younger revelation: 12-year-old Argentine first-timer Renata Lerman, for her turn as the rebellious daughter of a teacher in her father Diego’s class drama “The Substitute.”
Mora was already marked as a talent to watch with her 2017 debut, the tough, morally thorny youth revenge drama ‘Killing Jesus’, which earned her a special mention in San Sebastian’s New Directors competition that year, before winning a assortment. of international festival hardware. Produced by Colombian heavyweight Cristina Gallego (“Birds of Passage”, “Embrace of the Serpent”), “Kings of the World” will try to make up for that first impression; the Golden Shell is a dream start, even if the film isn’t an easy arthouse sale.
Stylistically, it’s a world away from the poised, hushed minimalism of Mathias’ “Runner,” another adolescent-centered tale about an orphaned Midwestern girl who sees through her father’s funeral into an unforgiving rural landscape. Best Director went to another delicate effort, Japanese director Genki Kawamura’s “A Hundred Flowers,” a tender study of a mother and son pulled together and apart by the former’s dementia. Chinese director Wang Chao was awarded best screenplay for ‘A Woman’, his deeply felt portrait of a working class woman who gradually unlocks her creative voice through a series of unhappy relationships in Maoist China.
Argentine director Manuel Abramovich had to settle for the cinematography award for one of the competition’s more controversial entries, “Pornomelancolía” – a fascinating docufiction portrait of a self-made Mexican gay porn star and influencer Lalo Santos, who was rocked earlier at the festival by Santos’ own Twitter complaints about the film, alleged exploitation of his story. The most controversial film in the lineup — Austrian provocateur Ulrich Seidl’s “Sparta,” a pedophilia-themed drama that was pulled from Toronto over allegations of insufficient protection for child performers — was unsurprisingly unrecognized by the jury, led by the Argentine producer Matías Mosteirín. (Actor Glenn Close, originally tapped to lead the jury, had to withdraw due to family reasons shortly before the festival.)
One of the contest judges, Icelandic filmmaker Hlynur Pálmason, also emerged as the winner of the festival’s more arthouse-oriented Zabaltegi-Tabakalera sidebar, taking the award for his impressively muscular ecclesiastical drama “Godland.” ‘ which premiered at Cannes. Another past festival hit, Costa Rican newcomer Valentina Maurel’s painful father-daughter portrait “I Have Electric Dreams” also topped the festival’s Latin Horizons competition, having won multiple awards in the main Locarno competition last month. Another teen-oriented story, French duo Jeanne Aslan and Paul Saintillan’s summery, class-conscious miniature “Spare Keys” took top honors in this year’s New Directors competition.
The festival’s audience award went to the rousing true courtroom drama ‘Argentina, 1985’ by the Argentine director Santiago Miter. The polished Amazon production already proved a crowd pleaser in Venice earlier this month, where it premiered in competition; if Argentina selects it as its international Oscar entry, as is widely expected, it will be a formidable contender. The separate audience award for best European film, meanwhile, remained close to home and went to local director Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s Galician thriller ‘The Beasts’.
Full list of winners:
OFFICIAL SELECTION PRICES
Golden Shell for Best Film: “Kings of the World”, Laura Mora
Special jury prize: “Runner”, Marian Mathias
Silver Shell for Best Director: “One Hundred Flowers”, Genki Kawamura
Silver Shell for Best Leading Performance (tied): “La Maternal”, Carla Quilez; “Winter Boy”, Paul Kircher
Silver shell for best supporting performance: “The Substitute”, Renata Lerman
Best Screenplay: “A Woman”, Wang Chao
Best Cinematography: “Pornomelancolia,” Manuel Abramovich
OTHER OFFICIAL AWARDS
New director award: “Spare Keys”, Jeanne Aslan and Paul Saintillan
Award for new directors (Special Mention): “On Both Sides of the Pond”, Parth Saurabh
Horizontes Latinos Prize: “I have electric dreams”, Valentina Maurel
Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Prize: “Godland”, Hlynur Palmason
Audience Award for Best Film: “Argentina, 1985”, Santiago Miter
Audience Award for Best European Film: “The Beasts,” Rodrigo Sorogoyen
Spanish Collaboration Award: “Noise”, Karla Moreno, María Jose Córdova
RTVE Another Look Award: “El Sostre Groc”, Isabel Coixet
RTVE Another Look Award (Special Mention): “Corsage”, Marie Kreutzer
Irizar Basque Film Award: “Suro”, Mikel Gurrea
Irizar Basque Film Award (Special mention): “For books and women I sing”, Maria Elorza
TCM Youth Award: “For books and women I sing”, Maria Elorza
Euskadi Basque Country 2030 Agenda Award: “Tori and Lokita”, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Dunio Asaya Price: “Tobacco Barns,” Rocio Mesa
Dunio Asaya Prize (Special Mention): “El Sostre Groc”, Isabel Coixet
FIPRESCI price: “Suro”, Mikel Gurrea
Feroz Zinemaldia Prize: “The Kings of the World”, Laura Mora
Euskal Gidoigileen Elkartea Prize: “Suro”, Mikel Gurrea and Francisco Kosterlitz
Sebastiane Prize: “Something you said last night”, Luis de Filippis
Lurra Greenpeace Prize: “Alcarras,” Carla Simon
SIGNIS price: “The Kings of the World”, Laura Mora
SIGNIS Award (special mention): “Runner”, Marian Mathias