San Sebastian: 'Sparrows' Flies Away With Top Prize

CTK via Iñaki Pardo

The Nordic co-production took the Golden Shell at the Spanish festival.

Runar Runarsson's Nordic coming-of-age tale Sparrows landed the San Sebastian Film Festival's Golden Shell Saturday night at a gala ceremony.

Widely acclaimed shorts director Runarsson’s second feature film is set in northern Iceland during the nightless days of summer and impressed the jury, chaired by Danish actress Paprika Steen.

The prize ceremony stood out for its even sprinkling of awards amongst the films, with no film other than Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Evolution earning more than one category. The French-Belgian-Spanish co-production won a special jury prize, as well as the best photography award for Manu Dacosse’s work.

Joachim Lafosse snagged the top director honor for The White Knights, which looks at the perils of French adoption of African orphans.

The double Silver Shell for best actors Ricardo Darin and Javier Camara for their starring roles in Cesc Gay’s Truman was the most-applauded prize of the evening.

Darin, a favorite at San Sebastian, quoted a tweet about the film that said, in Spanish: “at 23 I went to see a film about death and I think I learned everything about life.”

Yordanka Ariosa took the best actress nod for her part in The King of Havana and the French brothers Jean-Marie Larrieu and Arnaud Larrieu accepted the honor for best screenplay for their 21 Nights with Pattie.

In addition to the official awards, San Sebastian offers coveted cash prizes for competitions from many of the sidebars.

The €50,000 Kutxabank New Directors Award went to Rudi Rosenberg’s The New Kid.

“My movie is about losers in high school and, in fact, I am one of those,” Rosenberg said. “So if someone had told me I would get a prize, I wouldn’t have believed them. But one of the best moments of making the movie was last week watching how audiences received it here in San Sebastian.”

Santiago Mitre’s Paulina won the €35,000 cash prize that goes with the Horizontes award for Latin American films.

Hirokazu Koreeda’s Japanese Our Little Sister won the €50,000 audience award and Jia Zhang-Ke’s Mountains May Depart was named the best European film, thanks to the French part in the co-production with Japan and China, and won the second audience award for €20,000.

Asier Altuna’s Amama won the Irizar Basque Film Award with €20,000, given to a film with 20 percent financing from the local region.

Eliane Caffe’s The Cambridge Squatter won the Films in Progress top prize, which awards post-production financing to a nearly finished film, in addition to a spot at the festival next year.