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‘Return To Dust,’ ‘The Quiet Girl,’ ‘Eo’ Win Big at Spain’s Valladolid Festival

67 Seminci
Courtesy of Seminci / Credit: Iván Tomé

“Return to Dust,” the latest work from Chinese director Li Ruin (“River Road,” “Fly With the Crane”) won the top Golden Spike at the Seminci Valladolid Film Festival, Spain’s traditional arthouse platform, which this last week sold over 100,000 tickets for the second time in a row, a sign of much needed, if temporary, vitality in Spain’s desperately sagging art pic market.  

“An absorbing, beautifully framed drama that makes a virtue — possibly too much a virtue — of simplicity,” stated Variety’s Jessica Kiang in her Berlinale review,  “Dust” is set in a decimated Chinese village, where a downtrodden couple in an arranged marriage forge an unexpected bond as they eke out a living from the land. “Return to Dust” was released in China in September. 

“Eo” director Jerzy Skolimowski (“11 Minutes”) earned the best director prize for “a damning polemic on our relationship to other intelligent species — as free labor, food and companions — as seen through the dewy, wide eyes of a donkey whom we come to adore,” said Variety’s Peter Debruge ahead of 2022’ Cannes Festival

A Berlin Golden Bear winner  way back in 1967 for “Le Depàrt,” Skolimowski’s “Eo” took Cannes’ Jury Prize.

Colm Bairèad’s “The Quiet Girl” scored three prizes – a Valladolid Silver Spike, Fipresci Award and Audience Award – for a “gentle, straightforward” film with “an ear finely attuned to all those types of hush and to the tender feelings they can contain,” Kiang wrote in her review. 

Opening this year with Felix Viscarret’s “Staring at Strangers,” the festival’s Spanish Cinema section showcased some of the biggest Spanish titles this year, such as Berlin winner Carla Simón’s “Alcarràs,” Málaga top film “Lullaby,” from Alauda Ruiz de Azua, Alberto Rodriguez’s San Sebastian opener “Prison 77” and Annecy favorite “Unicorn Wars.”

Industry panels this year highlighted local distribution and women creators. 

Valladolid works a two-way street, bringing Spanish talent and recent national features to meet audiences and international guests at Valladolid while also promoting  international imports without distribution in Spain. The latter is a radically tougher call since the pandemic. Plumetting attendance at Spain’s art houses overshadowed much industry talk in general at Valladolid, even the jury’s verdict on this year’s Festival.   

“Even at 8.30 Monday morning, the theater was full. Without the audience, festivals and films are meaningless. Thank you for coming, it’s truly important to support quality cinema like the films Valladolid experienced this week,” the juries enthused when announcing winners. 

Return To Dust Courtesy of Seminci

67th Valladolid International Film Festival Prizes:

Golden Spike

“Return to Dust,” (Li Ruin, China)

Silver Spike

“The Quiet Girl” (Colm Bairèad, Ireland)

Ribera del Duero Best Director Award

Jerzy Skolimowski (“Eo,” Poland, Italy)

Fipresci Award

“The Quiet Girl,”(Colm Bairèad, Ireland)

Audience Award

“The Quiet Girl,”

Pilar Miro Best New Director Award

Cristèle Alves Meira (“Alma Viva,” Portugal, Belgium)

Best Actor Award

Iván Barnes, Karra Elejalde (“Vasil,” Spain, Bulgaria)

Best Actress Award

Lubna Aazabal (“Le Bleu du Caftan,” France, Morocco, Belgium, Denmark)

Miguel Delibe Best Screenplay Award

Mikhäel Hers, Maud Ameline & Marlene Dèsert (“Les Passages de la Nuit,” France)

Best Photography 

Rubens Impens (“Le Otto Montagne,” Italy, Belgium, France)

José Salcedo Best Editing Award

Kim Sang-bum (“Decision to Leave,” South Korea)

Golden Spike Best Short Film, EFA Short Film Nominee Valladolid 2023

“Arquitectura emocional 1959” (León Siminiani, Spain)

Silver Spike Best Short Film

“Ice Merchants” (João Gonzalez, Portugal)

Honorific Spike

Jim Sheridan

The Quiet Girl Courtesy of Insceal

Encounter Point

Best Feature Film

“Sick of Myself” (Kristoffer Borgli, Norway, Sweden)

“War Pony” (Gina Gammell, Riley Keough, U.S.)

Best Foreign Short film

“The Garbage Man,” (Laura Gonçalves, Portugal)

Special Mention

“Happy New Year, Jim,” (Andrea Gatopoulos, Italy)

Spain Short Film Night Award

“L’avenir” (Santiago Ráfales, Spain)

Audience Award

“Joyland” (Saim Sadiq, Pakistan)

“The Sparrow” (Michael Kinirons, Ireland)

History Time

Fundos First Prize

“All That Breathes” (Shaunak Sen, India/US/UK)

Fundos Second Prize

“Rojek” (Zaynê Akyol, Canada)

Best Short Film Award

“Le Mécanique des fluides” (Gala Hernández López, France)

Audience Award

“Afghan Dreamers” (David Greenwald, Afghanistan)

Doc Spain Award

“Hafreiat,” (Alex Sardà, Spain/Jordania)

Castilla y León Short Film Award

“Plen Air,” (Raúl Herrera, Spain)

Green Spike Award

“Delikado,” (Karl Malakunas, Australia, Hong Kong, U.S., Philippines, U.K.

Special Mention

“Ice Merchants,” (João Gonzalez, Portugal)

67 Seminci. Opening Ceremony Courtesy of Seminci