“Champions” entered the ceremony as most probably the favorite in one of the most open fields in recent years, given the diversity of best picture contenders in artistic and industry terms.
But, produced by Morena Films, Películas Oendelton and Movistar +, “Champions” had already been selected by the Academy as Spain’s Oscar entry and had proven a blockbuster hit on home turf for UPI Spain, earning €18.5 million ($21.1 million). Selling near worldwide, the comedy turns on an off-the-rails Spanish coach sentenced to train a basketball team of special-needs players.
Before director Javier Fesser climbed onto the stage on Saturday night to take best picture, however, the film had won just two of 10 nominations, for breakthrough actor (Jesús Vidal) and song (Coque Malla’s “Este es el momento”).
Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s “The Realm,” a full-on kinetic, political thriller was the other big winner of Saturday night, sweeping most big Spanish Academy Goya Awards including best picture, actor (Antonio de la Torre), original screenplay (Isabel Peña, Rodrigo Sorogoyen), and original score (Olivier Arson), among a total seven Goyas .
Beating out not just Penélope Cruz (“Everybody Knows”) but Najwa Nimri (“Quien te cantara”) and Lola Dueñas (“Journey to a Mother’s Room”), Susi Sánchez won best actress for “Sunday’s Ills,” directed by Ramón Salazar and chosen as a Variety’s Critic’s Pick.
A dazzling animation/live-action mix, capturing war correspondent Ryszard Kapuściński’s life-haunting experience of 1975’s Angola Civil War, “Another Day of Life” capped a triumphant year, after winning best animation film at the European Film Awards, by taking the Spanish Academy Award for best animated feature.
Best documentary Goya went to Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar’s heartrending “The Silence of Others,” backed by the Almodóvar brothers, chronicling a campaign to end Spain’s Pact of Forgetting of crimes under Franco and aged Spaniards’ attempts to just give loved ones, executed in the Civil War, a decent burial.
Saturday night marked a major triumph for sales agent Latido Films which scored 13 Goya wins, taking in those for “Champions,” “The Realm” and Romani lesbian love story “Carmen & Lola,” which won best breakout director for Arantxa Echevarría.
Often a platform for revindication – opposition to Spain’s involvement in the 2003 Iraqi War, support for gender equality or demands for funding for the film industry itself – the 33rd Goya Awards were the least issue-centered of recent years in terms of speeches.
Where last year’s ceremony preached but failed to deliver on progressive ideals, this year’s demonstrated them thoroughly. Three of the four nominees for Breakout Director were women, ethnically diverse music was performed throughout the night, and in one of the evening’s most touching moments, special needs actor and “Champions” star Jesús Vidal won the award for Breakout Actor and gave a heartwarming speech about the importance of inclusion in cinema.
This year’s hosts, husband and wife team Silvia Abril and Andreu Buenafuente, were an undeniable hit, charming the audience every time they took the stage.
A tranquil Saturday night also reflects the paradoxical situation of the Spanish film industry. After incentives were slashed during Spain’s double-backed recession, Spain’s film industry, especially its arthouse sector, remains underfunded when it comes to state incentives, compared to Europe’s big five countries,
But movies are being made in a country where it is increasingly difficult to crew up with first-class technicians given their employment on the exploding number of drama series being made for pay TV and OTT platforms, some of which are among the most-watched series in the world (think “La Casa de Papel,” “Elite”).
In a year with only one Spanish blockbuster, “Champions,” Spanish movies still notched up a 17.5% share.
This year’s Spanish Academy Honorary Goya was presented to Narciso “Chicho” Ibáñez Serrador, a pioneer of Spanish fantastic cinema, who made two milestones in its early cannon, 1970’s “La Residencia” (“The House That Screamed”) and 1976’s “¿Quién puede matar a un niño? (“Who Can Kill a Child”) – which anticipated Spain’s surge in upscale genre auteur.
The award was presented by Alejandro Amenábar (“The Others”), J.A. Bayona (“The Orphanage”), Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (“[REC]”), Rodrigo Cortés (“Buried”), Alex de la Iglesia (“The Day of the Beast,” another milestone in Spanish genre), Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (“28 Weeks Later”) and Nacho Vigalondo (“Colossal”) – one indication of the ample influence Ibañez Serrador has had on one of Europe’s most-talented smart genre generations.
2019 GOYA AWARDS
And the winners are:
“Champions,” (Javier Fesser)
Rodrigo Sorogoyen, (“The Realm”)
Arantxa Echevarría, (“Carmen & Lola”)
Susi Sánchez, (“Sunday’s Illness”)
Antonio de la Torre, (“The Realm”)
Carolina Yuste, (“Carmen & Lola”)
Luis Zahera, (“The Realm”)
Isabel Peña, Rodrigo Sorogoyen, (“The Realm”)
Álvaro Brechner, (“A Twelve-Year Night”)
Josu Incháustegui, (“Gun City”)
Olivier Arson, (“The Realm”)
“Este es el momento,” (Coque Malla, “Champions”)
BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE, ACTOR
Jesús Vidal, (“Champions”)
BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE, ACTRESS
Eva Llorach, (“Quién te cantará”)
“Another Day of Life,” (Raúl de la Fuente, Damian Nenow)
FOREIGN SPANISH-LANGUAGE FILM
“Roma,” (Alfonso Cuarón, Mexico)
“Cold War,” (Pawel Pawlikowsky, Poland, France, U.K.)
“The Silence of Others,” (Almudena Carracedo, Robert Bahar)
Narciso “Chicho” Ibáñez Serrador
LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM
“Cerdita,” (Carlota Pereda)
ANIMATED SHORT FILM
“Cazatalentos,” (José Herrera)
“Gaza,” (Carles Bover Martínez, Julio Pérez del Campo)
Alberto del Campo, (“The Realm”)
Yousaf Bokhari, (“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”)
Clara Bilbao, (“Gun City”)
Juan Pedro de Gaspar, (“Gun City”)
Roberto Fernández, Alfonso Raposo, (“The Realm”)
MAKEUP AND HAIR DESIGN
Sylvie Imbert, Amparo Sánchez, Pablo Perona, (“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”)
Lluís Rivera, Laura Pedro, (“Superlópez”)