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Spain honors De la Iglesia

Helmer wins national cinema prize

MADRID — Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia has been awarded Spain’s National Cinema Prize.

Granted by Spain’s Icaa Spanish Film Institute, the kudo comes with Euros30,000 ($37,800) in cash.

The plaudit prizes De la Iglesia’s “innovative and transgressive” career and his “enrichening” of Spain’s “cinema language,” the jury declared.

Despite a feature film career that stretches back just 17 years to 1993’s “Accion mutante,” nobody in Spain is questioning the justice of the award.

De la Iglesia’s second movie, 1995’s “The Day of the Beast,” is reckoned a milestone in modern Spanish filmmaking, marking Spanish cinema’s diversification from a social issue art film base into genre cinema.

Often spectacular and hitting new heights for Spanish post-production, De la Iglesia’s subsequent movies still paint a vision of Spain — one of dashed dreams (“Dying of Laughter,” “800 Bullets”), botched murders (“Ferpect Crime”) and communal greed (“La comunidad”) — whose jaundice harks back to Ramon Maria del Valle Inclan, Miguel de Cervantes and other great figures of Spain’s counter culture.

Yoking modernity and Spanish tradition, De la Iglesia’s films have often hit paydirt: “Laughter” grossed $7.9 million in Spain and “Comunidad” $8.4 million.

De la Iglesia has also led the diaspora of Spanish talent abroad, shooting “Perdita Durango” in Mexico in 1996 and “The Oxford Murders” in the U.K. Nabbing $10.3 million in Spain, “Murders” went on to become the highest-grossing Spanish film of 2008.

The award also recognizes De la Iglesia’s work since 2009 as president of the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. De la Iglesia brought much-needed pizzazz to the Academy’s February Goya kudofest, which went down as one of the most entertaining in years.

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