Gang drama wins fest's Golden Shell

“Neds,” Peter Mullan’s gritty Glasgow gang drama, won the Golden Shell on Saturday at the 58th San Sebastian Film Festival.

Conor McCarron, who carries much of “Neds,” playing a bright middle-school student dragged down into a vortex of violence, took best actor.

Co-directors Judith Colell and Jordi Cadena took a Special Jury Prize for “Elisa K,” which explores child abuse with power and discretion.

Drawing heartfelt applause at its press screening, “Neds” emerged as an early Competition frontrunner in a section which had no clear standouts – the nearest were Raul Ruiz’ best director winner “Mysteries of Lisbon” and Agusti Villaronga’s “Black Bread,” a bleak, rural rites-of-passage tale set in post-Civil War Spain which won actress for Nora Navas.

Beyond them, at least a third of the Competition contenders – Spain’s “Aita” and “Elisa K,” China’s “Addicted to Love,” Argentina’s “Cerro Bayo,” and Kim Jee-woon’s “I Saw the Devil” – also had fans in a main section which ranged from the out-there and poetic, such as Naomi Kawase’s Fipresci-winner “Genpin,” to potential crossovers: “Bread” and “Bayo.”

Jimmy Gimferrer won cinematography for his crisply-shot, often stunning wash of images in Jose Maria de Orbe’s “Aita.”

Of other prizes, Diego Luna’s Sundance hit “Abel” scored double kudos: the Horizontes Award in a strong lineup of Latin American pics, and the Euskaltel Youth Award.

As often at San Sebastian, some of its best discoveries were of smaller films, often in ancillary sections.

Fest’s best reception went to Carles Bosch’s docu-feature “Bicycle, Spoon, Apple,” a portrait of former Barcelona mayor Pasqual Maragall and his family battling Maragall’s Alzheimer illness.

Of world or international preems, one Latin American standout was Carlos Cesar Arbelaez’s much-applauded “The Colors of the Mountain,” which won the Kutxa New Directors Award, carrying a Euros90,000 ($121,000) cash prize.

Also in Zabaltegi-New Directors, Hao Jie’s warmly human if morally appalling tale of older-age love “Single Man” played to one-minute applause.

Running Sept. 17-25, San Sebastian is likely to be remembered as much for Julia Roberts, in town to receive a Donostia Award and tubthump “Eat Pray Love,” and as the last under Mikel Olaciregui, a well-liked director.

Two fest shareholders, the San Sebastian Town Hall and Icaa Spanish Film Institute confirmed Friday they will both maintain their current $1.35 million annual investments for 2011.

That coin’s much needed.

Jose Luis Rebordinos takes over from January. His large challenge is to create an internationally significant festival in the ever-growing shadow of Toronto on a budget of just $8 million.

There are no easy answers.

Emilio Mayorga contributed to this article

ENDS

401 WORDS

WINNERS OF THE 58TH SAN SEBASTIAN FILM FESTIVAL

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION

GOLDEN SHELL

“Neds,” (Peter Mullan, U.K., France, Italy)

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE

“Elisa K,” (Judith Colell, Jordi Cadena, Spain)

SILVER SHELL, DIRECTOR

Raul Ruiz (“Mysteries of Lisbon,” Portugal, France)

SILVER SHELL, ACTRESS

Nora Navas (“Black Bread,” Spain, France)

SILVER SHELL, BEST ACTOR

Conor McCarron (“Neds”)

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Jimmy Gimferrer (“Aita”)

SCREENPLAY

Bent Hamer (“Home for Christmas,” Norway, Sweden, Germany)

SPECIAL MENTION, INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION

Daoud Aoulad-Syad (“A Jamaa,” Morocco, France)

OTHER MAIN PRIZES:

KUTXA NEW DIRECTORS AWARD

“The Colors of the Mountain,” (Carlos Cesar Arbelaez, Colombia, Panama)

NEW DIRECTORS AWARD, SPECIAL MENTIONS:

“La vida util,” (Federico Veiroj, Uruguay, Spain)

“Nothing’s All Bad,” (Mikkel Munch-Fals, Denmark)

TCM AUDIENCE AWARD

“Barney’s Version,” (Richard J. Lewis, Canada, Italy)

TCM AWARD, EUROPEAN FILM

“How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?” (Norberto Lopez Amado, Carlos Carcas, U.K., Spain)

HORIZONTES AWARD

“Abel,” (Diego Luna, Mexico)

HORIZONTES, SPECIAL MENTION

“A Stone Throw Away,” (Sebastian Hiriart, Mexico)

EUSKALTEL YOUTH AWARD

“Abel”

FILMS IN PROGRESS AWARDS:

FILMS IN PROGRESS INDUSTRY AWARD

“Entre la noche y el dia,” (Bernardo Arellano, Mexico)

CASA DE AMERICA AWARD

“Asalto al cine,” (Iria Gomez Concheiro, Mexico)

CINEMA IN MOTION AWARD

“On the Plank,” Leila Kilani, Morocco, France)

8TH INTL. FILM SCHOOL MEETINGS, PANAVISION AWARD

“Los minutos, las horas,” (Janaina Marques, Intl. Film and TV School, Cuba)

OTHER AWARDS:

FIPRESCI INTL. FEDERATION OF FILM CRITICS’ PRIZE

“Genpin,” (Naomi Kawase, Japan)

TVE OTHER LOOK AWARD

“Cerro Bayo,” (Victoria Galardi, Argentina)

OTHER LOOK, SPECIAL MENTION

“Blog,” (Elena Trape, Spain)

SIGNIS AWARD

“Addicted to Love,” (Liu Hao, China)

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