‘Playing’ takes Granada’s top trophy

Film wins best pic Golden Alhambra

Spain  “Jogo de Cena” (Playing), helmed by Brazilian docu specialist Eduardo Coutinho (“Master Building,” “The End and the Beginning”), won the best pic Golden Alhambra at the 2nd Granada Film Festival Cines del Sur, which wrapped today Saturday.

The Golden Alhambra is worth euros 50,000 ($77,675) for the producer and $31,070 for the film’s Spanish distribber.

“Playing” explores how non-professional actors come to embody characters through the stories of 23 women who answer an actor-wanted ad in a newspaper.

Pic interweaves real women acting and actresses acting as real women, melding fiction and real life. Audience award and Silver Alhambra for director (worth $46,605) went to a critics’ favourite, India’s “Frozen,” directed by Shivajee Chandrabhushan.

A photographer and mountaineer, Chandrabhushan filmed “Frozen” to chronicle the gruelling life of an apricot jam-maker Karma, son Chomo and daughter Lasha, living in the foothills of the Himalaya. Events are portrayed from the ingenuous point of view of a child.

China-U.K. co-production “We Went to Wonderland,” written and directed by Xiaolu Guo (“How is Your Fish Today?”), took the Special Jury Special Prize.

Backed by Andalusia’s socialist government and launched last year, Spain’s Granada fest attempts to further relations with a natural co-production partner, Latin America, an often-ignored neighbor, Africa, and an admired regional film hub, Asia. Relations between Spain and the Maghreb have in particular been fraught with political face-offs, trade tensions, and fall-out from massive Maghrebi immigration to Spain.

Pics playing to upbeat reception at Granada included Morocco’s Daoud Aoulad-Syad’s “Fi intidar Pasolini” (Waiting for Pasolini), Brazilian-French-Uruguayan contempo musical “Mare, nossa historia de amor” (Another Love Story), helmed by Lucia Murat,  Gael Garcia Bernal’s directorial deb “Deficit,” and Philippine Brillante Mendoza’s “Slingshot.” Garcia Bernal and Irani arthouse helmer Mohsen Makhmalbaf (“Kandahar,” “Scream of the Ants”) both attended Granada, Makhalbaf for a tribute.

Their observations illustrated the healthily varying stances towards film-making from outside the U.S. and Europe.

“After ‘Deficit’ I’d like to make something a bit bigger. As someone said: a first movie works well if you make a second one,” Garcia Bernal told Variety.

“We’ve been offered higher-budgeted pics, but you have to choose between selling your soul to the market or to your dreams,” said Makhmalbaf who, though threatened and self-exiled, still continues to a film-making career, his latest creation being a screenplay for the Kazakhstan pic, “Autumn and Winter,” to be directed by Kyrgyzstan’s Aktan Abdykalykov (“The Chimp”), Makhmalbaf told Variety.

Granada now plans a “Southern” Film Festivals showcase, featuring highlights from Latin American, Asian and African fima-a-thons, said fest director Jose Sanchez-Montes.

Granada’s Cines del Sur fest ran May 30 to June 7.

(John Hopewell contributed to this report.)

And the winners are:

“Playing” (Eduardo Coutinho, Brazil)

Shivajee Chandrabhushan (“Frozen”)

“We Went to Wonderland” (Xiaolu Guo, China-U.K.)


“Nuba d’or et lumiere” (Izza Genini, Morocco)

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