Ostlund takes best director for 'Play'

Barcelona– “Declaration of War,” from Gallic thesp-turned-helmer Valerie Donzelli, and Argentine Santiago Mitre’s “The Student” dominated the top awards at Spain’s 49th Gijon Festival on Saturday, sharing its Prince of Asturias award.

A Cannes Critics’ Week highlight, French B.O. breakout and Wild Bunch sales hit licensed to 30-plus countries, “War” also won Jeremie Elkaim and Donzelli actor and actress nods for their spirited perfs.

“War” was always a frontrunner for top Gijon kudos, managing to reduce some critics to tears while sending most out of a first weekend press screening with a spring in their steps.

Mitre’s directorial debut, “The Student” also nabbed screenplay and youth jury prize.

Shot on a shoestring but seeming much larger in scope and import, “The Student” delivers an incisive depiction of Argentine college politics, combining mordant analysis and thriller thrust.

Mitre was a co-screenwriter on Pablo Trapero’s multiprized “Lion’s Den” and “Carancho” and took the Locarno’s special jury prize for “The Student,” and his stock is rising fast.

Ruben Ostlund (“Involuntary”) took best director with his third directorial outing, the provocative “Play,” another Gijon favorite, about a gang of five black boys robbing three white middle-class kids in Gothenburg. Ostlund confirmed at Gijon that he is developing a follow-up to “Play,” “Tourist.”

Prize announcements also included a special mention for one of Gijon’s world preems, Spaniard Gabriel Velazquez’s meditative multicharacter coming-of-age tale, “Iceberg.”

Kudos could have readily gone elsewhere: Gijon has carved out a reputation for choosing films from helmers who don’t quite figure as yet in the indie world’s auteur A list but whose latest titles still spark eager expectation.

And the winners are:

PRINCE OF ASTURIAS PRIZE

“Declaration of War” (Valerie Donzelli, France)

“The Student” (Santiago Mitre, Argentina)

DIRECTOR

Ruben Ostlund (“Play,” Sweden, France, Denmark)

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE

“Take Shelter” (Jeff Nichols, U.S.)

ACTOR

Jeremie Elkaim (“Declaration of War”)

ACTRESS

Valerie Donzelli (“Declaration of War”)

SCREENPLAY

Santiago Mitre

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Elena Zhukova (“Faust,” Russia)

OTHER PRIZES:

FIPRESCI PRIZE

“Terri” (Azazel Jacobs, U.S.)

YOUTH JURY, FEATURE

“The Student”

ENFANTS TERRIBLES, FEATURE

“Papa, soy una zombie” (Ricardo Ramon and Joan Espinach, Spain)

JURY SPECIAL MENTION

“Iceberg” (Gabriel Velazquez, Spain)

RELLUMES PRIZE

“Tomboy” (Celine Sciamma, France)

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