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Spain’s Luis López Carrasco picked up the Best International Film prize for his documentary “The Year of the Discovery” (“El año del descubrimiento”) on Sunday at Argentina’s Mar del Plata, the only Latin American film fest granted a Category A status by producers assn. FIAPF, placing it in the same league as Cannes, Venice, San Sebastian and Locarno, among others.

Given the restraints imposed by the pandemic, the festival hosted an online edition and offered free access to all Argentine residents.

Carrasco’s sophomore feature follows his debut film “El Futuro,” which premiered at Locarno and collected numerous awards on the festival circuit. “The Year of the Discovery” portrays the flipside of 1992 Spain, which celebrated hosting the Olympics Games in Barcelona and the World Expo in Seville while in Murcia, south-east Spain, enraged workers from the naval, mining and chemical sectors where companies were shut down, battled alongside students against the police, culminating with the launch of Molotov cocktails that set fire to the regional government’s Parliament.

In a video call from Spain, a grateful López Carrasco dedicated the award to his parents and brother “for being the people who most taught me how to listen.”

Colombian Camilo Restrepo’s “Los Conductos” clinched the best film prize in the festival’s Latin American competition. Winner of last year’s Mar del Plata Work in Progress competition, “Los Conductos” marks an attempt to explore Colombia’s civil conflicts with a style outside the canons of social realism as it follows a man in his attempts to flee from a sect and the trauma that still haunts him.

Maria Alvarez’s “The Lost Time” (“El Tiempo Perdido”) trounced a strong lineup in the Argentine competition, which included such notable titles as “Esquirlas,” The History of the Occult” and “Las Ranas,” to nab the best Argentine film prize.

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The Lost Time Courtesy of Mar del Plata

In “The Lost Time,” a group of now aged friends find new and personal meaning in Marcel Proust’s seven-volume novel “In Search of Lost Time” at each of the 18 years they have gathered at a Buenos Aires bar to discuss it.

“In this online edition, more than 200,000 people saw the films we have programmed, and on YouTube, more than 180,000 people followed our events, so I congratulate the public who have known how to adapt to our circumstances,” said festival president Fernando Juan Lima at the online closing ceremony. “We miss the City of Mar del Plata and its movie theaters, but we are going to return,” he declared.

“We celebrate [the festival’s] continuity even with the challenges that the pandemic has imposed on us,” concurred festival artistic director Cecilia Barrionuevo. The festival paid homage to filmmaker-politician Fernando ‘Pino’ Solanas, Argentine actress-writer-director Maria Luisa Bemberg and, naturally, Argentina’s greatest hero, soccer star Diego Maradona, who died Nov. 25 from heart failure.

Augusto Costa, minister of production, science, and technological Innovation, also announced that Mar del Plata would be the site of the fifth regional headquarters of Argentine film school, Enerc.

“From the government and from the ministry, we reaffirm our absolute commitment to the festival and to the audiovisual industry of the province,” said Costa.

2020 MAR DEL PLATA ASTOR PIAZZOLLA PRIZES

OFFICIAL INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION

BEST FILM
“The Year of the Discovery,” (Luis López Carrasco, Spain, Switzerland)

BEST DIRECTOR
Matías Piñeiro, (“Isabella,” Argentina)

BEST PERFORMANCE
María Villar, (“Isabella,” Argentina)

BEST SCREENPLAY
Nicolás Prividera, (“A Farewell to Memory,” Argentina)

SPECIAL JURY
“Moving On,” (Yoon Dan-bi, Korea)

LATIN AMERICAN COMPETITION

BEST FILM
“Los Conductos,” (Camilo Restrepo, Colombia, Brazil, France)

SPECIAL MENTION
“Mascarados,” (Marcela Borela and Henrique Borela, Brazil)

SPECIAL MENTION
“Fauna,” (Nicolás Pereda, Mexico)

BEST SHORT
“Correspondence,” (Dominga Sotomayor and Carla Simón, Chile)

ARGENTINE COMPETITION

BEST FILM
“The Lost Time,” (María Álvarez, Argentina)

SPECIAL MENTION
“Las Ranas,” (Edgardo Castro, Argentina)

BEST SHORT
“Homage to the Work of Philip Henry Gosse,” (Pablo Martín Weber)

BEST DIRECTOR
“Esquirlas,” (Natalia Garayalde, Argentina)

ALTERNATE STATES
BEST FILM
“My Dear Spies,” (Vladimir Léon, France)

SPECIAL MENTION
“Heliconia,” (Paula Rodríguez Polanco, France, Colombia)

WORK IN PROGRESS (EN TRANSITO)

BEST PROJECT
“Morichales,” (Chris Gude, Colombia, U.S.)

BEST LATIN AMERICAN DEBUT FILM, YOUNG CRITICS PRIZE
“History of the Occult,” (Cristian Ponce, Argentina)