Pilar Palomero’s “Schoolgirls” (“Las Niñas”), a coming-of-age story and generational portrait of Spanish women who would now be in their 40s, swept an extraordinary and admirable 35th edition of Spain’s Goya Awards on Saturday, scooping best picture, new director, original screenplay and cinematography.
Salvador Calvo won best director for the three-part, Africa-set drama “Adú,” a Netflix pick-up produced by Telecinco Cinema, Ikiru Films and La Terraza Films that proved one of Spain’s biggest box office hits of last year, earning €6.3 million ($7.6 million) at the Spanish box office, promoted to the hilt by Telecinco Cinema parent Mediaset España.
Marking a milestone in his transition from Spanish heartthrob to character actor, Mario Casas won best actor for “No Matarás.” Patricia López Arnaíz (“While at War,” “The Plague”) took best actress for her role in “Ane is Missing,” a confident mother-daughter relationship drama-thriller melding psychological observation and social critique, set against the background of high-speed train construction in a 2009 Bilbao.
In a hybrid on-site/virtual ceremony – with no audience nor nominees attending in person – the 35th Goya Awards were televised from the Teatro del Soho CaixaBank in Malaga, southern Spain.
Three events caught the perfectly pitched tone of the kudos-cast. In the first awards tandem of the night, many of Spanish cinema’s biggest names – Pedro Almódovar, Penélope Cruz, Paz Vega, J.A. Bayona and Alejandro Amenábar – appeared on stage to give awards – but not the biggest plaudits but statues for humbler craft and technical achievement: Costume design, hair and make-up, sound, VFX and line production.
The night’s big best picture award, by contrast, was presented by nurse Ana Ruiz López, who had organized an impromptu hospital in a hanger last March and organized a hospital entertainment service for the ill during the pandemic.
Mid-ceremony, M.C. Antonio Banderas, a Malaga native, recalled saying goodbye to his driver and technicians when “Official Competition” was closed down when COVID-19 hit Spain last March and thinking that these people – who will bear the brunt of shoot stoppage – and with whom he had coincided on shoots down the years- were family. Earlier, he called on his sector to use lockdown to reflect on how cinema can serve its society.
Among celebrities sending pre-recorded messages of support to the Awards were Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Isabelle Huppert, Monica Bellucci, Salma Hayek, Sylvester Stallone, Benicio del Toro, Emma Thompson, Ricardo Darín and Laura Dern.
For the first time ever at the Goyas, the real stars of the show, however, were not its presenters but its 166 nominees who watched on from a spectacular video screen of individual 4G Zoom connections, set up by Mdiapro Events. This yielded moments of surprising intimacy and high comedy as winners accepted their Goyas from their own homes, applauded, kissed or mobbed by on-screen families or crews in camera-rocking, unbridled jubilation. Never before has a Goya ceremony underscored the importance of its awards for its winners.
Gender issues feature strongly in two of the best picture nominees – “Schoolgirls” and Iciar Bollaín’s “Rosa’s Wedding” – as well as the movie that won most awards, Pablo Agüero’s “Aquelarre,” a feminist take on Inquisition witch trials in the 1609 Basque Country.
Women won out almost as much as men, taking 12 categories to men’s 13, with three prizes shared. Premiering at the 2020’s Berlinale’s Generation Kplus, “The Girls” is a banner title of a new – and often women-driven – Catalan cinema. 41% of nominees were women, Spanish Academy president Mariano Barroso said on stage. “The Girls’” Daniela Cajías became the first woman DP to win a best cinematography Goya.
2021’s Honorary Goya went to Angela Molina, star of Luis Buñuel’s last film, “The Obscure Object of Desire,” and Jaime Chavarri’s “Las cosas del querer,” and star of some of Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón’s greatest films, such as “Heart of the Forest.”
A feminist sensibility also threaded some acceptance speeches and choice of performing artists. “When they’re stripped naked, woman are stripped of rights,” said Mabel Lozano, accepting a Goya for documentary short, “Biografía del cadáver de una mujer.” Trap singer-songwriter Nathy Peluso appeared on stage to sing – and very well – a cuplé, “La Violetera.”
Marking further awards, Colombia’s submission to the International Feature Film Oscar, Fernando Trueba’s “Memories of My Father,” a portrait of Colombian public health system pioneer Hector Abad Gomez as well as a father-son relationship drama, won out in a strong contest for best Ibero-American feature Goya.
Hailed as one of the most important Spanish films made this century, Luis López Carrasco’s “The Year of the Discovery,” a searing account of industrial reconversion in 1992, which anticipated Spain’s recessions from the 2008 financial crisis, won best documentary in the strongest nominee lineup in years.
Won in the best feature category by “Turu, the Wacky Hen,” directed by Eduardo Gondell, Víctor Monigote, animation also shone at the Goyas. “Anybody who’s seen not just the nominees for animated short but the shortlist of titles will realize the immense potential of Spanish animation,” said Abraham López Guerrero, a winner for animated/live action “Blue & Malone: Casos Imposibles.” Represented by short extracts, the other best short nominees bore him out.
Emiliano Granada and Jamie Lang contributed to this article.
2021 35th GOYA AWARDS
And the winners are:
“Schoolgirls,” (Pilar Palomero)
Salvador Calvo, (“Adú”)
Pilar Palomero, (“Schoolgirls”)
Patricia López Arnaiz, (“Ane”)
Mario Casas, (“No matarás”)
Nathalie Poza (“Rosa’s Wedding”)
Alberto San Juan, (“Sentimental”)
Pilar Palomero (“Schoolgirls”)
David Pérez Sañudo, Marina Parés Pulido (“Ane”)
Daniela Cajías (“Schoolgirls”)
Aránzazu Calleja, Maite Arroitajauregi (“Akelarre”)
“Que no, que no,” (María Rozalén for “Rosa’s Wedding”)
Adam Nourou, (“Adú”)
Jone Laspiur, (“Ane”)
“Turu, the Wacky Hen,” (Eduardo Gondell, Víctor Monigote)
“Forgotten We’ll Be,” (Fernando Trueba, Colombia)
“The Father,” (Florian Zeller, U.K., France)
“The Year of the Discovery,” (Luis López Carrasco)
LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM
“A la cara,” (Javier Marco)
ANIMATED SHORT FILM
“Blue & Malone: Casos imposibles,” (Abraham López Guerrero)
“Biography of a Woman’s Corpse,” (Mabel Lozano)
Sergio Jiménez, (“The Year of the Discovery”)
Ana Parra, Luis Fernández Lago (“Adú”)
Nerea Torrijos, (“Akelarre”)
Mikel Serrano (“Akelarre”)
Eduardo Esquide, Jamaica Ruíz García, Juan Ferro, Nicolas de Poulpiquet (“Adú”)
MAKEUP AND HAIR DESIGN
Beata Wotjowicz, Ricardo Molina (“Akelarre”)
Mariano García Marty, Ana Rubio, (“Akelarre”)