MADRID — “Ultranova,” the notable debut from Belgian actor-turned helmer Bouli Lanners, and Jean-Marc Vallee’s Canadian foreign-lingo candidate “C.R.A.Z.Y.” took top honors at the 43rd Gijon Intl. Film Festival.
Chronicling monotone, cul-de-sac life in Belgian’s semi-industrial sprawl, “Ultranova” took nods for best pic and the FISPRESCI Intl. Federation of Film Critics award.
About a dysfunctional catholic Canadian family whose sons include a rent boy and glam rock fan, “C.R.A.Z.Y.,” was long-applauded at its press screening. It went on to scoop director, screenplay, art direction and youth jury prizes.
Tilda Swinton took actress for “Thumbsucker,” while Mark O’Halloran and Tom Murphy shared best actor for their bravura perfs as feckless junkies in “Adam & Paul,” also applauded at Gijon.
Special Jury Prize was shared between Mohammad Rasoulof’s “Iron Island,” from Iran, and Austrian Michael Glawogger’s “Working Man’s Death.” The one pic most notably absent from the prize lineup was Thomas Clay’s contempo Britain portrait “The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael,” which was tipped for some kind of plaudit by film fans.
It takes a lot to unsettle Spanish film buffs but this film — especially its second gang rape scene — achieved that, sparking debate about the acuracy of its portrayal of modern Britain or the fittingness of its finale.
Gijon’s 53rd edition underscored the growing importance of the documentary in left-of field film-making.
“The documentary and semidocumentary format has become a powerful and exceptional new way of cinematic expression,” said fest director Jose Luis Cienfuegos.
Docus figured large in the increasingly important Esbilla sidebar for more radical pics. They also proved popular: “Working Man’s Death,” a two-hour record of workers in grim jobs around the globe, came third in voting for the youth jury award.
Lesser known docu titles included two intriguing non-fiction features: the Spanish “Al Hamama,” which treated ordinary Muslims’ condemnation of Madrid’s 2003 terrorist attacks, and Italian Vincento Marra’s “58%,” which offers memorable footage of the daily lives of Palestinians under Israeli occupation.
Another little-known docu, “Lai,” from Spain’s Nuria Aidelman and Gonzalo de Lucas, proved an ingratiating reenactment of a Medieval ballad. Newly instituted, Gijon’s FIPRESCI prize is a mark of recognition for one of Spain’s lesser-budgeted but most admired festivals. Press and public screenings were often packed, drawing journos and film fans from all over Spain.
Meet was also attended by execs from a raft of local indie distribbers, including Sogepaq, Alta, Golem, Filmax, Karma, Diorama, and Baditri. Fest offers a best pic cash prize of Euros 20,000 ($23,420) for its Spanish distributor or international sales agent.
Fest honorees were France’s Claire Denis, Finnish docu-maker Pirjo Honkasalo and a wry-humored Todd Solondz, who announced at Gijon that he should have his next pic, “another tiny little movie,” moving into production by March. Fest ran Nov.24 to Dec.2.
“Ultranova,” (Bouli Lanners, Belgium)
Jean-Marc Vallee (“C.R.A.Z.Y., ” Canada)
Mark O’Halloran, Tom Murphy (“Adam & Paul,” Ireland)
Tilda Swinton (“Thumbsucker,” U.S.)
“C.R.A.Z.Y,” (Jean-Marc Vallee and François Boulay)
“C.R.A.Z.Y,” (Patrice Bricault-Vermette)
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
“Iron Island,” (Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran)
“Working Man’s Death,” (Michael Glawogger, Austria)
YOUTH JURY PRIZE
ENFANTS TERRIBLES FILM AWARD
“Kirikou and the Wild Beasts,” (Michel Ocelot, Benedicte Galup, France)