BARCELONA — David R. Romay’s feature debut “Beyond the Mountain” snagged Best Feature at Lleida’s 25th Latin America Film Festival of Catalonia, hosted in the world’s culinary capital for grilled snails, 84 miles west of Barcelona.
A dramatic thriller starring Benny Emmanuel (Gael García Bernal’s “Chicuarotes”), it follows Miguel, a young, solitary man whose routine existence working for a public typing service office is turned upside down when he finds his mother lying dead on the floor with a letter to his deadbeat dad in her hand. Tragic events force him to face a forgotten past and to seek out his father with murderous intent.
The award follows Guadalajara best actor and press awards this year.
“I wanted to involve the viewer in the plot without any kind of narrative tricks, without having to tell them what to feel,” Romay explained to Variety.
He added: “The music is discreet, the story can only be seen through the eyes of the protagonist and the acting tone is quite contained. It was a long job in the editing room to peel away the layers until we reached that essence,”
Directed by Palme d’Or winning producer Luis Miñarro (“Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”), the Reel Suspects-sold “Love Me Not” was shot in both Mexico’s Chihuahua and Spain’s Catalonia, and was co-written by Miñarro and prominent playwright Sergio Belbel. It re-tells the biblical myth of Salome transferred to 2006 and an imaginary Iraqi military camp where one of the prisoners is seen as a terrorist by some and a prophet by others.
Mexico was the most awarded country at the event, with five features produced or co-produced there taking awards: “Beyond the Mountain,” Beni Khoshonoudi’s Miami best feature “Luciérnagas,” Luis Miñarro’s “Love Me Not,” Lila Aviles’ best feature winner at Morelia, “The Chambermaid” and Julio Berthely’s “Yo Fausto.”
Best new director went to Óscar Sánchez Saldaña for “Mataindios,” a production from Peru’s La Tropilla de Obrajeros Eirl, sold by Argentina’s Meikincine Entertainment. In the film, four villagers organize a religious festival in honor of the town’s saint. An unexpected occurrence, however, makes them question their faith, and the power of the saint to help them.
Lila Avilés’ “The Chambermaid,” an award-winner at the Morelia, Palm Springs, Havana and Marrakech festivals among others, scored two awards: Original Screenplay and the Radio Exterior de España Prize. “The Chambermaid” follows one of so many humble, anonymous Latin American domestic workers who clean rooms in glamorous Mexican hotels. It’s is sold by France’s Alpha Violet.
A total of 81 productions from 20 countries screened in Lleida, organized by the City Council of Lleida and the Llatinoamericà Center of Lleida, and directed by Juan Ferrer.
25TH LATIN AMERICA FILM FESTIVAL OF CATALONIA
“Beyond the Mountain,” (David R. Romay, Mexico)
Pilar Gamboa, (“Las Vegas,” Argentina)
Arash Marandi, (“Luciérnagas,” Mexico, Greece, Dominican Republic)
Luis Miñarro, (“Love Me Not,” Spain, Mexico)
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY/CASA AMERICA PRIZE
Lila Avilés, Juan Carlos Márquez, (“The Chambermaid,” Mexico)
Óscar Sánchez Saldaña, Robert Julca Motta (“Mataindios,” Peru)
RADIO EXTERIOR DE ESPAÑA PRIZE
“The Chambermaid,” (Lila Avilés, Mexico)
“Luciérnagas,” (Beni Khoshonoudi)
“Yese’s” (Miguel Forneiro, Spain)
“Nana,” (Roger Villaroya, Spain)
SHORT SPECIAL MENTION
“Bodas de oro,” (Lorenzo Tocco, Uruguay, Chile)
“Yo Fausto,” (Julio Berthely, Mexico).
“Your Turn,” Eliza Capai (Brazil)
José Luís Alcaine