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‘Bad Hair’ Tops San Sebastian Fest

‘Wounded’ wins Special Jury Prize and actress

SAN SEBASTIAN – Venezuelan Mariana Rondon’s “Bad Hair” won San Sebastian’s top Golden Shell on Saturday at a 61st edition galvanized in biz terms by its 2nd Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum.

Sold by L.A FiGa Films, and Rondon’s follow-up to “Postcards From Leningrad,” “Bad Hair” is a coming-of-age tale in which a boy explores his nascent homosexuality.

In an warmly-applauded plaudit for a local movie, Fernando Franco’s “Wounded,” produced by Koldo Zuazua’s San Sebastian-based Kowalski Films, scooped San Sebastian’s Special Jury Prize.

Mexico’s Fernando Eimbcke took fest’s director nod for mother-son relationship drama “Club Sandwich,” the third film from one of Mexico’s best-known on-the-rise directors.

Already a best actress winner at Locarno in 2007 for “The Best of Me,” Marian Alvarez won best actress for her turn in “Wounded,” where she plays 30-year-old ambulance driver woman suffering from a borderline personality disorder which drives her to alcohol abuse and self-destructive habits.

Jim Broadbent scooped actor for his performance in Roger Michell’s “Le Week-end,” Spanish critics’ favorite at San Sebastian.

Kudosfest prized most titles — save David Trueba’s “Living is Easy With Eyes Closed” — talked-up by the local press at this year’s 61st edition of the most important festival in the Spanish-speaking world.

The Pathe-produced “Quai d’Orsay,” Bertrand Tavernier’s satire on high-jinks at France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took screenplay (Tavernier, Antonin Baudry, Christophe Blain) plus the Intl. Federation of Film Critics (Fipresci) Prize.

Pau Esteve Birba won cinematography for Manuel Martin Cuenca’s “Cannibal,” a love story between a flesh-eating tailor and his prospective next victim which had fans at San Sebastian.

Benedikt Erlingsson’s Sundance player “Of Horses and Men” won the new director award.

Of other major prizes outside the main competition, sold by Mundial, the new sales venture of IM Global and Canana, Fernando Coimbra’s “A Wolf at the Door,” won the hotly contested Horizontes section, a showcase for the best in recent Latin American fiction.

A drama-thriller produced by Gullane Filmes, “Door” is judged in some quarter to be the strongest Latin American debut in some time.

Of unofficial prizes, Bertrand Tavernier won the Intl. Federation of Film Critics (Fipresci) prize for political satire “Quai d’Orsay,” already lauded by critics at Toronto.

“Wolf,” picked up by XYZ Films for world sales, won San Sebastian’s coveted Youth Award, by Desigual, a sign for distributors of a movie’s audience lure.

Helmed by Holland’s Jim Taihuttu, who caught heat with his co-directed “Rabat,” a sleeper in Holland, “Wolf” is a hard-hitting noirer of a kickboxer courted by organized crime.

Thanks to its Co-production Forum, attended by a mass of young Latin American directors and producers, and most of Europe’s top sales agents for non-mainstream titles, San Sebastian’s large merit this year was to consolidate its position as a must-attend event for a broad base of players in the Latin American arthouse and crossover business.

2013’s San Sebastian was low on glam, with only two career-achievement Donostia Awards given out this year, to Almodovar muse Carmen Maura and Hugh Jackman.

Stars flights to San Sebastian cost serious money.

Given Spain’s crisis, San Sebastian did very well, via private sponsorship, to make up most of the slack from a fall in public funding, with its budget falling just 2%-3% to Euros 7.25 million-Euros 7.3 million ($9.6 million-$9.7 million).

“Our budget isn’t that high but we’re working all the time to increase resources,” said fest director Jose Luis Rebordinos. He added: “There’s uncertainty sometimes about just how much money we have to tap into, which can mean that we can’t close an agreement with a Hollywood star because the travel costs are very high.”

But, led by Annette Bening and Jackman, Hollywood stars and name thesps who did roll into town delivered.

Jackman, for instance, charmed San Sebastian taking an early morning bike ride, bathing in the sea, eating tapas in city’s Old Part. “He’s charming and easy-going,” announced the Diario Vasco, the Basque Country’s most influential newspaper.

The 61st edition’s low-note was sounded by the dire straits of Spain’s local industry.

At a joint press conference Thursday of Spanish pubcaster RTVE and Spanish production sector umbrella association FAPAE, producer Jose Antonio Felez revealed that Spanish feature films shoots had plunged 28% to 92 through Sept. 15.

Spain’s government is supposed to announce new subsidy regs. When that will happen is another matter.

“The delay in recommendations from the work committees drawn up to establish a new state financing model is throwing the whole subsidy system into doubt,” said one leading Spanish industry figure.

“In such a context, private sector investment, tapping into tax breaks, and the push into international markets via films in English, are shaping up as the future of the Spanish film industry,” he added.

Another alternative is co-production with Latin America. A decade or so ago, a capitalized Spain helped out Latin American producers. Now it’s increasingly the other way round.

WINNERS OF THE 61TH SAN SEBASTIAN FILM FESTIVAL

MAIN COMPETITION

GOLDEN SHELL
“Bad Hair,” (Mariana Rondon, Venezuela, Peru, Germany)

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
“Wounded,” (Fernando Franco, Spain)

SILVER SHELL, DIRECTOR
Fernando Eimbcke (“Club Sandwich,” Mexico)

SILVER SHELL, ACTRESS
Marian Alvarez (“Wounded,” Spain)

SILVER SHELL, BEST ACTOR
Jim Broadbent (“Le Week-End,” U.K.)

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Pau Esteve Birba (“Cannibal,” Spain, Romania, Russia, France)

SCREENPLAY
Antonin Baudry, Christophe Blain, Bertrand Tavernier (“Quai d’Orsay,” France)

OTHER MAIN PRIZES:

KUTXA NEW DIRECTORS’ AWARD
“Of Horses and Men,” (Benedikt Erlingsson, Iceland, Germany)

HORIZONTES AWARD
“A Wolf at the Door,” (Fernando Coimbra, Brazil)

WUAKI.TV AUDIENCE AWARD
“Like Father, Like Son,” (Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan)

WUAKI.TV AUDIENCE AWARD, EUROPEAN FILM
“About Time,” (Richard Curtis, U.K.)

DESIGUAL YOUTH AWARD
“Wolf,” (Jim Taihuttu, Netherlands)

FILMS IN PROGRESS INDUSTRY AWARD
“La Salada,” (Juan Martin Hsu, Argentina)

OTHER AWARDS:
FIPRESCI INTL. FEDERATION OF FILM CRITICS’ PRIZE
“Quai d’Orsay,” (Bertrand Tavernier, France)

TVE OTHER LOOK AWARD
“Young and Beautiful,” (Francois Ozon, France)

SIGNIS AWARD
“Jonathan Teplitzky,” (U.K., Australia)

SPECIAL MENTION TO
“Bad Hair,” “October November,” Gotz Spielmann (Austria)

SOLIDARITY AWARD
“My Soul Healed By You,” (Francois Dupeyron, France)

IRIZAR AWARD
“Asier and I,” Aitor Merino, Amaia Merino (Spain, Ecuador)

SEBASTIENE 2012 AWARD
“Dallas Buyers Club,” Jean-Marc Vallee (U.S.)

SPECIAL MENTION
“Bad Hair”

Emilio Mayorga contributed to this article

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