Chile’s ‘Cab’ taxis to top at San Sebastian

New directors award went to Tort's 'De la Calle'

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain — Reconfirming the event’s mandate as a showcase for homegrown and Latin American cinema, Spanish-language productions dominated the awards at the 49th San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival, which wrapped Saturday, with features from Chile, Spain and Mexico taking top honors in both the official competition and New Directors lineup.

The main competition jury headed by veteran French director Claude Chabrol awarded its top prize to Chilean black comedy “A Cab for Three.” A major hit on home turf, Orlando Lubbert’s tale of a struggling taxi driver who teams with his muggers on a quest for a better life was a well-received but surprising Golden Shell winner in a field with no clear critical standout.

One of the few titles to score near-unanimous praise from pundits, Catalan director Jose Luis Guerin’s “Work in Progress,” a docudrama about construction of a Barcelona housing block, took both the special jury prize and Fipresci international critics award.

Jean-Pierre Ameris was awarded the Silver Shell for best director for French entry “C’est la vie,” a love story set in a clinic for the terminally ill starring Sandrine Bonnaire.

Heading a mainly nonprofessional cast, Kurdish refugee Duzgun Ayhan took actor kudos for Nino Jacusso’s Swiss political asylum drama “Escape to Paradise,” while Pilar Lopez took the actress nod for Vicente Aranda’s Spanish costume drama “Juana la Loca,” about the 15th century queen.

Screenplay nod went to Philippe Harel, Benoit Poelvoorde and Olivier Dazat for Harel’s comedy about a luckless professional cyclist, “Ghislain Lambert’s Bicycle.” Roman Osin was honored for cinematography on

Anglo-Indian newcomer Asif Kapadia’s epic adventure “The Warrior,” recently picked up by Miramax in a multi-territory deal.

Rookie helmer feted

The new directors award of 150,000 euros ($136,500) went to Gerardo Tort’s tough drama of marginalized youth on the mean streets of Mexico City, “De la Calle.” A special mention in the same competition went to Norwegian Petter Naess’ tale of two men’s attempts at reintegration after discharge from a psychiatric hospital, “Elling,” which was also crowned by the youth jury.

The fest’s audience award of $27,300 toward promotion of a Spanish release went to Bosnian director Danis Tanovic’s reflection on the absurdity of war, “No Man’s Land.” Following closely in the voting were Ferzan Ozpetek’s gay-themed melodrama “Ignorant Fairies,” Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s French crowd-pleaser “Amelie of Montmartre” and Nanni Moretti’s examination of grief, “The Son’s Room.”

Argentinean immigration drama “Bolivia” by Adrian Israel Caetano won the $5,460 top prize in the Made in Spanish section.

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