San Sebastian starts handing out awards

Lifetime achievement, Zinemira, Films in Progress awarded

SAN SEBASTIAN -- Sir Ian McKellen picked up the Donostia lifetime achievement award late Wednesday at the 57th San Sebastian International Film Festival, thanking the festival for recognizing his 50-year acting career, rather than just one performance.

"If I'm in competition, it's with myself alone," McKellen said, after receiving the statue from Spanish actor Josep Maria Pou.

Also Wednesday, Imanol Uribe received the first Zinemira award, newly created by the festival to reward a Basque filmmaker.

Spanish Film Academy president Alex de la Iglesia -- a native of the Basque region, where the festival is held on Spain's northern coast -- gave Uribe the award.

Elsewhere, Federico Veiroj's Uruguayan "La Vida Util," won the grand prize at the Films in Progress sidebar, securing post-production financing to a finished 35 mm copy of the film. Actor Daniel Hendler's directorial debut "Norberto Apenas Tarde," from Uruguay, won the TVE Award -- the equivalent of a pre-buy for the Spanish producer, and Natalia Smirnoff's Argentine "Rompecabezas" took the Casa de America Award.

Films in Progress is a venture created by the Rencontres Cinemas d'Amerique Latine in Toulouse and the San Sebastian International Film Festival intended to facilitate the completion of films by independent Latin American and Spanish filmmakers at the post-production stage and offers a coveted spot in next year's festival circuit.