'Between Two Waters' Wins Golden Shell at San Sebastian Film Festival

Courtesy of Festival de San Sebastian/Montse Castillo

Benjamin Naishtat took the top director honor for 'Rojo.'

Spain’s Isaki Lacuesta on Saturday night walked away with the Golden Shell at the closing ceremony of the 66th San Sebastian International Film Festival for his story of two Roma brothers, Between Two Waters.

Alexander Payne, president of the fest's competition jury, said its members unanimously voted for Lacuesta’s film as a poignant “social portrait that invites the viewer into the life of the protagonists” in a story of reconciliation and redemption.

But it was Benjamin Naishtat’s Rojo that snagged the most prizes of the night — including best director and photography nods and the best actor award for the pic's Dario Grandinetti.

Naishtat used the spotlight of the moment to protest the fragility of the Argentine film industry.

“With this award, everyone will write about how well Argentine cinema is doing, but the reality is that a week ago the Culture Ministry in Argentina was closed,” Naishtat said. “Culture forms part of a people’s dignity. You can’t negotiate with that.”

The evening as a whole proved very political, with award winners using their speeches to speak out about social and political situations.

Grandinetti applauded the timing of Naishtat’s decision to make a movie set in Argentina in the 1970s.

“The director of this film hadn’t even been born when the events of this film took place, but he learned of it and took interest,” Grandinetti said. “It is very timely and comes at an important moment when the right and fascism are growing again in the world.”

Paul Laverty, habitual screenwriter for Ken Loach (The Wind That Shakes the Barley), used his speech in accepting best screenplay honors for his wife Iciar Bollain’s Yuli to rail against the U.S. and Israel — calling them “thugs” and “the only countries in the world” that support sanctions against Cuba.

Japan’s Hiroshi Okuyama won the coveted New Director’s Award for his directorial debut, Jesus. The honor carries a cash prize of €50,000 ($58,000) for the helmer and the distributor of the film in Spain.

Chris Hemsworth and Drew Goddard graced the stage at the awards ceremony — with playful banter in Spanish and a reference to Hemsworth’s Spanish wife, Elsa Pataky — to present the festival’s closing film, Bad Times at the El Royale.

Earlier in the day, Bradley Cooper stirred passions at the fest when he spoke to the media about the joy and challenges of directing his feature debut, A Star Is Born, which ran in the Pearls section. While he intentionally skipped over questions about his next project, he repeatedly thanked Warner Bros. for giving him the time to prepare and mature all the elements of A Star Is Born and praised his co-star Lady Gaga as one of the “greatest artists of all time.”

Meanwhile, San Sebastian proved once again a hub for industry activity with numerous deals announced at the fest, which began Sept. 21.

Sony Pictures Television Latin America acquired Lucho Smok’s Chilean romantic comedy Swing, while Switzerland-based KAF closed Chinese rights with Beijing Hugoeast Media to Flo­rencia Percia’s Argentine drama Ce­taceos.

Lucia Garibaldi’s Uruguay-Argentina co-production The Sharks won the 32nd Films in Progress Award, securing postproduction financing and a slot on next year’s festival circuit. Spain-based sales shingle Film Factory also gave The Sharks the Film Factory Award, picking up worldwide rights to the unfinished project for €40,000.

Film Factory also picked up world sales on La Llorona, winner of the Europe-Latin American Co-Production Forum’s best project award.

A complete list of award winners follows.

Film

Between Two Waters, directed by Isaki Lacuesta
La Termita Films, BTeam Pictures, All Go Movies, Mallerich Films, Bord Cadere Films, SC Studio Indie

Special Jury Prize

Alpha, The Right to Kill, directed by Brillante Mendoza

Director

Benjamin Naishtat, Rojo

Actress

Pia Tjelta, The Blind Spot

Actor

Dario Grandinetti, Rojo

Director of photography

Pedro Sotero for Rojo

Screenplay

A Faithful Man, written by Louis Garrel, Jean-Claude Carriere

Yuli, written by Paul Laverty

New Directors

Jesus, directed by Hiroshi Okuyama

Horizontes

Familia Sumergida, directed by Maria Alche

Films in Progress

Los Tiburones (The Sharks), directed by Lucia Garibaldi

Glocal in Progress

Nematoma (Invisible), directed by Ignas Jonynas
IV Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum

Best Project

Hermano Peligro, directed by Pablo Fendrik

EFADs-CAACI Europe-Latin America Co-Production Grant

La Llorona, directed by Jayro Bustamante

Euroimages Development Co-Production

The Jungle, directed by Matthias Huser

Arte International Prize

Libertad (Freedom), directed by Clara Roquet

Rec Grabaketa-Estudia Post Production Award

El Agua (Water), directed by Elena Lopez Riera