'Long Distance' Wins Top Prize at Malaga Film Festival

"Long Distance"

The Spanish-American co-production stars "Game of Thrones" Natalia Tena.

MADRID -- Carlos Marques-Marcet’s directorial debut Long Distance, which premiered at SXSW and earned a special recognition for its acting duo, Natalia Tena and David Verdaguer, walked away the big winner at the Malaga Spanish Film Festival Saturday.

Distance, won not only the top award, the Gold Biznaga, but also the best director award -- for the Spaniard based in Los Angeles -- and the actress nod for Tena (Game of Thrones), who tied with Elena Anaya for her role in Todos Estan Muertos.

Marques-Marcet also landed the best new scriptwriter award with co-writer Clara Roquet for penning the long-distance romance with a production budget less than $690,000 (€500,000).

Distance is a Spanish-U.S. co-production between L.A. based Panda Productions and Spain’s Lastor Media and will be released in Spain May 16 by Avalon. New York-based Visti Films handles international sales.

“The awards mean a huge chance for this independent movie to have success at the box office,” producer Pau Brunet said. “It's also a triumph for a kind of independent cinema done with untraditional budgets but financed with international vision and the artistic bravery that has characterized the European art house.”

Beatriz SanchisTodos Estan Muertos, about a woman who lives with her agoraphobic daughter, also took the Silver Biznaga with a Special Jury Mention.

Other key awards included Juan Diego’s best actor honor for Anochece en la India, Yolanda Ramos’ for supporting actress in Carmina y Amen, Salva Reina and Hector Medina’s tie for supporting actor in 321 Days in Michigan and Paco Leon for screenplay for Carmina y Amen.

Spain’s main showcase for homegrown talent, Malaga has firmly established itself as the place to debut most of the local industry’s solid product. This year was no exception.

Aside from the awards winners, Jorge Torregrasa’s La Vida Inesperada -- starring Javier Camara -- and Alex Pina’s suicide terrorist-based Kamikaze came away with strong buzz.