‘Optimists’ triumphs at Valladolid

Paskaljevic pic inspired by Voltaire's 'Candide'

MARRAKECH — Goran Paskaljevic’s pessimistic portrait of post-Milosevic Serbia, the ironically-titled “The Optimists,” triumphed at the 51st Valladolid Intl. Film Festival on Saturday taking both the top Golden Spike and actor for Lazar Ristovski. Both prizes were applauded.

Inspired by Voltaire’s “Candide,” Paskaljevic said, the five-parter — with Ristovski playing different, though equally corrupt characters in all stories — turns on the themes of misplaced optimism, fear of Serbia’s unchanging establishment, collective brainwashing, an obsession with money and abuse of power.

Iranian Rafi Pitts’ Teheran drifter tale “It’s Winter” took the second-prize Silver Spike while Laura Linney won actress for her perf in Ray Lawrence’s “Jindabyne.”

The audience award went to Rachid Bouchareb’s Cannes competish player “Days of Glory,” a sign of its box office potential in Spain.

Spain’s premier platform for arthouse releases, Valladolid sparked some polemics in the local press because of the lack of major kudos for Spanish talent.

Among well-received Spanish world preems were Antoni Canet’s docu “Las alas de la vida,” about the last years of a terminally-ill doctor, which won the Time of History section, and Mario Iglesias’ feature debut “De bares,” screening in the Meeting Point sidebar — nine allegorical stories climaxing in a notable coda about love beyond the grave, all told with percipience and sometimes force.

Fest ran Oct. 20-28.

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