Ulrich Seidl took top honors Saturday for “Rimini” at Spain’s 60th Gijón-Xixón Film Festival, having hit back at German magazine Der Spiegel’s allegations of impropriety and child exploitation on the set of “Sparta,” “Rimini’s” companion piece.

World premiering at the Berlin Festival, “Rimini,” a “riveting, upsetting Ulrich Seidl slow-burn electrified by a stunning central turn,” said Variety, follows washed up crooner Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas) who is suddenly opportune for money by his estranged daughter. 

“Sparta” focuses on Richie’s wayward brother, Eward, who buys an abandoned school in Romania’s Transylvania, converting it into a compound called Sparta where he teaches young children self-defence. That provides a chance for him to photograph them in undress.

Also Germany’s biggest news website, Der Spiegel alleged that Seidl did not reveal “Sparta’s” focus on pedophilia to its young non-pro actors, aged 9-16, nor to their guardians, and that the young actors were exposed to alcoholism, nudity and violence during the production without sufficient preparation nor support.

Allegations of child abuse were “invented,” Seidl said at Gijón, fielding a question about the accusations during a “Rimini” press conference. “Sparta” shot for such a long time that if anything untoward had happened on set, the child actors’ parents would have realized, Seidl added, according to Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

In further prizes, Romanian Alexander Belc’s fiction debut “Metronom” took best film in Gijón’s Retueyos section, reserved for first and second features. 

A “handsome, heartfelt debut,” wrote Variety of the Cannes’ Un Certain Regard best director winner, it turns on a teen girl, Ana, who in 1972 Bucharest, writes a letter to a pirate radio, triggering the arrival on her doorstep of Ceausescu’s secret police. 

“Anhell69,” from Colombia’s Theo Montoya, “a haunting, cinematic portrait of the young queer scene in Medellín,” said Variety, won out in Gijón’s Tierres en Trance Latin American competition.

Mexican Claudia Sainte-Luce (“The Realm Of God”) nabbed nods from both the Acción Spanish directors body and CIMA women association for the coming of age tale “The Realm of God,” which bowed at Berlinale’s Generation Kplus sidebar before sweeping this year’s Guadalajara Film Festival in June.

Festivals, whatever their size, must serve an industry purpose these days. Gijón these days is not that small, hosting eight world premieres and 41 Spanish premieres. 

Three 2021 competition titles snagged distribution for Spain off Gijón bows including Romanian Radu Muntean’s “Intregalde” acquired by A Contracorriente Films, one of Spain’s top distributors.

This year’s Gijón broadened its industry brief in several ways. FICX Pro, the festival’s industry arm, bowed new training initiatives, Semilleru Campus – a three-weeks program for producers and filmmakers – and Semilleru LAB, a platform for projects at which five titles also competed for post-production prizes, including an invitation to the Canary Islands’ growing Mecas market.

2022’s Gijón also formed part of what is proving a protracted industry post-pandemic re-connect.

Beatriz Navas, head of Spain’s ICAA agency, hosted a close-doors session on pan-regional Spanish co-production, now a common practice on larger national arthouse movies. “If you want to co-produce, you have to get to know your partners,” she argued. “So any excuse to get together is good one,” she added. 

Metronom Courtesy of Gijon-Xixon International Film Festival

Full list of Gijón-Xixón International Film Festival 2022 winners:


Best Feature

“Rimini” ( Ulrich Seidl, Austria, France, Germany)

Special Jury Award

“The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft” (Werner Herzog, France, U.K, Switzerland, U.S.) 

Distribution Award

“The Novelist’s Film” (Hong Sang-Soo, South Korea)


Best Feature

“Metronom” (Alexandru Belc, Romania, France)

AISGE Award, Best Actress

Andrea Riseborough (“To Leslie,” U.S.) 

AISGE Award Best Actor

Marc Maron (“To Leslie”) 

Distribution Award

“Estertor” (Sofía Jallinsk, Basovih Marinaro, Argentina)


Fipresci Best Feature 

“Anhell69,” (Theo Montoya, Colombia, Romania, France, Germany) 

Acción Best Director

Claudia Sainte-Luce, (“The Realm Of God,” México) 

Principado de Asturias Best Short Film

“La niña mártir,” (María Pérez Sanz, Spain) 

Youth Jury Award, Best Feature Film, Retueyos

“Bread and Salt,” (Damian Kocur, Poland) 

Youth Jury Award, Best Short Film 

“Glimmen,” (Ken Rischard, Luxembourg) 

Best Spanish Feature

“A Foreign Song” (Cesar Souto, Spain) 

RCservice Award, Best Spanish Feature Director

César Souto 

DAMA Award, Best Script, Spanish Feature

“Hilos,” (Tito Montero, Spain) 

Deluxe DCP Award
Rocío Mesa (“Secaderos,” Spain, U.S.)

Special Mention
“Misión a Marte,” (Amat Vallmajor del Pozo)

CIMA Prize Female Director Feature Film

“The Realm Of God”

RTPA Award Best Asturian Feature Film

“O Corpo Aberto,” (Ángeles Huerta, Spain, Portugal) 

RTPA Asturies Curtiumetraxes Competition Award

“Europa,” (Lucas del Fresno, Spain, Switzerland) 

RTPA Asturies Curtiumetraxes Competition Special Mention

“Vas a ser mi memoria siempre,” (Marina Munárriz, Spain)

Laboral Cinemateca Short Film Award

“8 filmes sobre la guerra,” (Pablo Casanueva, Spain) 

Enfants Terribles Award Best Feature

“Bigman,” (Camiel Schouwenaar, Netherlands, Germany) 

Audience Award

“The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft”

The Fire Within Courtesy of Gijon-Xixon International Film Festival

Audience Award, Tierres en Trance, for Distribution 

“Hilos” (Tito Montero, Spain) 

Young Europe Award

“Cabeza y corazón,” (Ainhoa Andraka, Zuri Goikoetxea, Spain) 

Proyecto Corto Movistar+, Pecera Estudio, Free Your Mind 2022

“Largo viaje,” (Héctor Herce, Kabiria Films, Spain) 

New Directors, Asturias Prize

“Cantar un batallón,” (Inés G. Aparicio, Spain)

Special 60 FICX Award

Maria de Medeiros 


Semilleru Lab Asturias Paraíso Natural Film Commission Award

“Los Andares,” (Isa Luengo, Sofía Esteve)

Filmin Award

“Tres Canciones” (Adrià Guxens)

FICXLAB Residency 

“Guía de Confección sin Patrón” (Carmen Menéndez, Gusano Films)

SEMILLERU LAB Post-Production Award 

“Yo tenía una vida” (Octavio Guerra)

Open ECAM Award

“Los Restos del Pasar” (Luis Soto, Alfredo Picazo)

Gran Canaria’ Mecas 2023 Award 

“Los restos del pasar” (Luis Soto y Alfredo Picazo)

DCP Deluxe SEMILLERU Lab Award

“Yo tenía una vida”

John Hopewell contributed to this article.

Anhell69 Courtesy of Gijon-Xixon International Film Festival