The Romanian film “Blue Moon”, Victory of Jessica Chastain in San Sebastián

Directors and actresses reigned supreme at the San Sebastian Film Festival awards ceremony tonight, with Romanian actress-turned-director Alina Grigore taking home the Golden Shell for Best Film for her first intimate feature. ” Blue Moon “. The film, a crude realistic study of a young woman trying to break free from an abusive rural household, was an unexpected winner, edging out a number of top auteur films in the festival’s main competition. Still, a full spectrum was covered: On the opposite end of the celebrity scale, Jessica Chastain was one of two Best Performance winners for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”

It was the second year in a row that a first-time director won the festival’s top prize. Last year, Georgian writer-director Dea Kulumbegashvili swept the board for her debut “Beginning,” which won the Golden Shell in addition to Best Director, Actress and Screenplay. Kulumbegashvili returned to the festival as chair of this year’s predominantly female jury – which also included French director and recent Venice Golden Lion champion Audrey Diwan, Oscar-nominated Chilean documentary maker Maite Alberdi, Spanish actress Susi Sanchez and American producer Ted Hope.

Kulumbegashvili’s jury was more inclined to spread wealth than last year, even awarding a tie for one of the festival’s new gender-neutral actor awards. Chastain was in attendance to accept his half of the main prize for his star role as controversial televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker in Michael Showalter’s biopic, which gave his projected campaign for the Oscar for Best Actress a good start. . She shared the honor with overwhelmed Danish teenager Flora Ofelia Hofmann Lindahl for the upsetting family drama “As In Heaven”, which also won Best Director for Tea Lindeburg – another freshman filmmaker.

On stage, Chastain said she was delighted to share the festival’s first gender-neutral actor award with another female performer. “What a year to celebrate two female performances, it blows my mind,” she said, before paying tribute to Bakker herself: “I was so blown away by her compassion and love and what she represented, her alliance with the LGBTQ community, ”she said, before describing the film as“ a reminder to look beyond our first impressions and beyond mascara ”.

Avant-garde Franco-Bosnian director Lucile Hadžihalilović won the Special Jury Prize for her third feature film, the dark and surreal adult fairy tale “Earwig”. (Her longtime collaborator and husband Gaspar Noé, meanwhile, won first prize in the more experimental Zabaltegi-Tabakalera sidebar for his heartbreaking ‘Vortex’ study of dementia.)

With the French DP Claire Mathon winning the cinematography award for the state corruption thriller “Undercover” and the supporting actor award collectively awarded to the vast array of young people of the Spanish entry “Who’s Stopping Us”, the only man to win a competitive award was veteran British director Terence Davies, who deserves the award for best screenplay for his poetic biopic of Siegfried Sassoon “Benediction.”

In the other competitive sections of the festival, female domination continued. In the New Directors section – somewhat overshadowed by the dominance of first feature films in Best Competition – Russian newcomer Lena Lanskih won for her grim study of teenage motherhood “Unwanted”. And Mexican director Tatiana Huezo was a triple winner, coming out victorious in the festival’s Latin Horizons competition – and also winning the Spanish Cooperation Award and the TVE Another Look Award – for “Prayers for the Stolen”.

Huezo, who rose to prominence with her documentaries, was visibly moved by the recognition of her first feature film, a coming-of-age story centered on a group of young women in a regularly terrorized rural Mexican community. by cartel raids. Huezo’s documentary “Tempestad” was Mexico’s candidacy for the International Oscars a few years ago; with tonight’s race following a strong reception in Cannes, his last must be seen as a strong possibility of being this year’s candidate.

Finally, the two festival audience awards went to French productions. Celine Sciamma won the main audience award for her heartbreaking “Little Mum”, a small but perfectly formed dual study on motherhood and early childhood that has been a favorite of international critics since its premiere at the Berlinale in February. (It also happens to be shot by Tonight’s Cinema Winner Mathon.) Juliette Binoche, star of Emmanuel Carrère, “Between Two Worlds” won a separate Audience Award for Best European Film – a distinction somewhat confusing this year, although the male directors may have had sort of a consolation prize.


Golden Shell for Best Film: “Blue moon”, Aline Grigore

Special Jury Prize: “Earwig”, Lucile Hadžihalilović

Silver Shell for Best Director: “Like in paradise”, Tea Lindeburg

Silver Shell for Best Leading Performance (Tied): “Tammy Faye’s Eyes,” Jessica Chastain; “As in paradise”, Flora Ofelia Hofmann Lindahl

Silver Shell for the best support performance: “Who stops us”, the whole

Best screenplay: “Blessing”, Terence Davies

Best photography: “Undercover”, Claire Mathon


New Directors Award: “Junk”, Lena Lanskih

New Directors Award (special mention): “Carajita”, Silvina Schnicer, Ulises Porra

Latinos Horizons Award: “Prayers for the Stolen”, Tatiana Huezo

San Sebastian Audience Award: “Little Mum”, Céline Sciamma

Audience Award for Best European Film: “Between two worlds”, Emmanuel Carrère

Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Prize: “Vortex”, Gaspar Noé

Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Prize (special mention): “They carry death”, Helena Girón, Samuel M. Delgado

TVE Another Look Award: Prayers for the stolen ”, Tatiana Huezo

Spanish Cooperation Award: “Prayers for the Stolen”, Tatiana Huezo

Irizar Prize for Basque Cinema: “Maixabel”, Iciar Bollain

Irizar Basque Cinema Prize (special mention): “Kuartk Valley”, Maider Oleaga

About Monty S. Maynard

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