For a second consecutive year, top honors at Mexico’s Fénix Film Awards were reserved for a Chilean film. Sebastián Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman,” took home best picture after starting the evening as the heavy favorite, having previously dazzled at festivals like Berlinale, San Sebastián and last month’s Mar del Plata. Lelio also won best director while leading lady Daniela Vega took best actress, her first major award in a budding career.
“A Monster Calls,” the most commercially successful film in attendance, earned further critical praise for its aesthetics, collecting trophies for best sound and art design. This was the first year in which audiences voted for an Exhibitors Award, which also went to “A Monster Calls” and its Spanish director J.A. Bayona.
2017 also marked the first time that the Fénix Awards have recognized TV series along with cinema. The winner of both best drama series and acting ensemble was the world-wide mega-hit “Narcos,” while the award for best comedy series was given to “Club of Crows.” It could be said then that the real winner, in TV anyway, was Netflix, which produced and released both series.
Mexico’s “Devil’s Freedom” swept the documentary section with Everardo González’s film winning documentary and cinematography in a documentary, as well as original score for any film in competition. The film is a bleak investigation of Mexico’s violence and those who “disappear,” which Variety’s Jessica Kiang praised as, “deeply compelling despite toiling in the grimmest recesses of human behavior.”
Argentina’s Oscar Martinez can add one more trophy to his shelf for his work in “The Distinguished Citizen” in which he plays a Barcelona-based author forced to revisit his rural Argentine upbringing. For the role Martinez has already received best actor plaudits at Venice, the Platino Awards and the Argentina Academy.
Norma Aleandro was awarded the lifetime achievement award for her extensive work in both film and TV. In 1985, she won best actress at Cannes for her role in “The Official Story,” – which took an Oscar for best foreign-language film – and was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal of Florencia in 1988’s “Gaby: A True Story.”
“Summer, 1993,” continued its run of good form with Catalan writer-director Carla Simón collecting the award for best screenplay, having previously received recognition at Berlinale, Malaga and London.
If commentators were to sum up Wednesday’s proceedings in one word, they could do worse than to choose “inclusion.” The Fénix Awards honored TV series for the first time, celebrated a transgender-led film and boasted some impressive female star-power. While there is still plenty of room for improvement in the industry, things seem to be trending in the right direction.
4TH FENIX IBERO-AMERICAN AWARDS. DEC. 6, 2017
“A Fantastic Woman,” (Sebastián Lelio, Chile, Spain, U.S., Germany)
Sebastián Lelio, (“A Fantastic Woman,” Chile, Spain, U.S., Germany)
Daniela Vega, (“A Fantastic Woman,” Chile, U.S.)
Oscar Martínez, (“The Distinguished Citizen,” Chile, Spain, U.S., Germany)
Carla Simón, (“Summer 1993,” Spain)
Ramiro Civita, (“The Winter,” Argentina, France)
Cláudia Rita Oliveira, José Edgar Feldman, Luisa Homem (“The Nothing Factory,” Portugal)
Marc Orts, Oriol Tarragó, Peter Glossop (“A Monster Calls,” Spain, U.S.)
Quincas Moreira (“Devil’s Freedom,” Mexico)
Ro Nascimento (“Joaquim,” Brazil, Portugal)
Eugenio Caballero (“A Monster Calls,” Spain, U.S.)
“Devil’s Freedom” (Everardo González, Mexico)
María Secco (“Devil’s Freedom,” Mexico)
“Narcos,” (Colombia, U.S.)
“Club of Crows,” (Mexico)
ACTING ENSEMBLE: SERIES
“Narcos,” (Colombia, U.S.)
CRITIC’S WORK AWARD
Isaac León Frías
J.A. Bayona (“A Monster Calls,” Spain, U.S.)