San Sebastian Festival: China's 'I Am Not Madame Bovary' Wins Golden Shell

I Am Not Madame Bovary – Still 1 - H - 2016
Courtesy of TIFF

Asian films ruled the awards ceremony, with Korea's Hong Sang-soo winning best director.

Xiaogang Feng’s story of a Chinese woman’s journey in I Am Not Madame Bovary won the San Sebastian International Film Festival’s top prize, the Golden Shell, Saturday night.

“I have a lot of experience and a lot of habits. These habits can cage you. When I started this film, I tried to set these habits aside and try to work as if it were my directorial debut and do something courageous. I knew it was very risky,” Feng said. “I didn’t know if it was the right thing to do, but today the San Sebastian Film festival gave me the answer with this prize for the best film.”

Fan Bingbing also took the acting nod for the lead in Feng’s film.

“My birthday was the day of the inauguration of the festival and I made a wish, but I could never have guessed that at the end of the festival I would have received this prize. Thank you so much to the festival,” an excited Bingbing said as she picked up the best actress award.

Two popular Spanish entries in the official competition picked up prizes, with Eduard Fernandez taking the acting award for Smoke and Mirrors and Isabel Pena and Rodrigo Sorogoyen winning for the screenplay of May God Save Us.

But one of the real highlights of the evening was when Richard Gere came onstage to announce the Audience Award — Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake — reading in Spanish. Spanish distributors accepted the award on the director's behalf, but Loach sent a video with the film’s team thanking the festival for the honor. Gere is in town for the special screening of Time out of Mind, in which he plays a homeless man.

Korean director Hong Sang-soo also won the best director award for Yourself and Yours.

Earlier in the week, Santiago Estevez’s Rey’s Education won the coveted Films in Progress Industry award, which covers full post-production costs for the unfinished project. The film also secures a slot in the festival's official lineup for next year, an important platform for Latin American cinema.

Pepa San Martin’s feature debut Rara, which landed one of the biggest sales of the market and enjoyed huge buzz throughout the festival as the winner of the LGBT Sebastiane Latin award, snagged the juicy $39,000 (€35,000) Horizons Award for what the jury called the “an exceptionally beautifully shot film with an intelligent and sensitive script.”

The full list of awards follows:

Film — Xiaogang Feng’s I am Not Madame Bovary

Director — Hong Sang Soo, Yourself and Yours

Actress —Fan Bingbing,  I am Not Madame Bovary

Actor — Eduard Fernandez, Smoke and Mirrors

Script — Isabel Pena and Rodrigo Sorogoyen, May God Save Us

Photography — Ramiro Civita, The Winter

Jury’s Prize — Emiliano Torres’ The Winter and Johannes Nyholm’s The Giant

Kutxabank New Director — Sofia Exarchou’s Park

Horizontes — Pepa San Martin’s Rara

Zabaltegi Tabakalera — Thorston Schute’s Eat that Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words

Audience Award — Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake

Audience Award for European Film — Claude Barras’s My Life as a Courgette

Basque Cinema — Juan’s Palacios’ Pedalo

TVE La Otra Mirada — Maysaloun Hamoud’s In Between