San Sebastian picks ‘Pandora’s Box’

Yesim Ustaoglu film west best pic, actress

Yesim Ustaoglu’s “Pandora’s Box” won the 56th San Sebastian Festival’s Golden Shell for pic, plus a Silver Shell for France’s Tsilla Chelton, who plays an Alzheimer-afflicted country matriarch in the film.

Courtney Hunt’s Sundance standout “Frozen River” also had an impressive prize tally at the prestigious Spanish fest, which closed Saturday. Melissa Leo won a Silver Shell actress plaudit for her perf in “River” as a cash-strapped single mum. “River” also took two major unofficial awards: the Catholic World’s Signis kudos and Spanish pubcaster TVE’s “Another Look” prize for films made by or about women.

Leo’s nod was applauded at the prize press conference on Saturday afternoon. Other announcements by competish jury prexy Jonathan Demme proved less popular. These included the actor prize for Oscar Martinez in Daniel Burman’s “The Empty Nest” and director kudos to Michael Winterbottom for “Genova.”

The Spanish press were less than happy when a special jury prize went to Ziya Mirza Mohamad and Haron Ahad, the lead boy actors in Samira Makhmalbaf’s “Two-Legged Horse.” Local critics were tipping Hirokazu Kore-eda’s dysfunctional family dramedy “Still Walking” or Spaniard Jaime Rosales’ radical “Bullet in the Head.”

However, “Walking” took best film kudos from Spain’s CEC Circle of Cinema Writers. “Bullet” took a Fipresci critics’ award.

This year’s fest films, like last year’s, were arguably a notch or two below those of 2006, still a highlight. The fest was bookended, however, by what was — for San Sebastian — considerable star wattage. Javier Bardem, Antonio Banderas and Woody Allen were present for the opening on Sept. 18. Following Banderas, Meryl Streep picked up a career-achievement Donostia Award on Friday.

And the winners are:

GOLDEN SHELL
“Pandora’s Box,” Yesim Ustaoglu (Turkey-France-Germany-Belgium)

SPECIAL JURY AWARD
“Two-Legged Horse,” Samira Makhmalbaf (Iran-France)

SILVER SHELL, DIRECTOR
Michael Winterbottom, “Genova” (U.K.)

SILVER SHELL, ACTRESS
Melissa Leo, “Frozen River” (U.S.) and Tsilla Chelton “Pandora’s Box”

SILVER SHELL, ACTOR
Oscar Martinez, “The Empty Nest” (Argentina-Spain-France)

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Hugo Colace (“The Empty Nest”)

SCREENPLAY
Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern, “Louise-Michel” (France)

OTHER MAIN PRIZES:
ALTADIS NEW DIRECTORS AWARD
“The Equation of Love and Death,” Cao Baoping (China-Hong Kong)

TCM AUDIENCE AWARD
“Burn After Reading,” Joel and Ethan Coen (U.S.)

HORIZONTES AWARD
“Gasolina,” Julio Hernandez Cordon (Guatemala)

YOUTH AWARD
“Amorosa Soledad” Martin Carranza (Victoria Galardi)

FILMS IN PROGRESS INDUSTRY AWARD
“Norteado,” Rigoberto Perezcano (Mexico-Germany)

CINEMA IN MOTION AWARDS
“Pomegranates and Myrrh,” Najwa Najjar (Palestine-Germany)
“Chou Sar?” De Gaulle Eid (Lebanon-Palestine-France)
“Le Temps des camarades,” Mohamed Chrif Tribak (Morocco)

INTL. FILM SCHOOL MEETING AITE AWARD
“Le Bal des suspendus,” Azzam El Mehdi, ESAV Ecole Superieure des Arts Visuels (Morocco)

OTHER AWARDS:
FIPRESCI (INTL. CRITICS’ ASSN) PRIZE
“Bullet in the Head,” Jaime Rosales (Spain)

TVE ANOTHER LOOK AWARD
“Frozen River,” Courtney Hunt (U.S.)

SIGNIS AWARD
“Frozen River”

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