The Colombia that tries to leave behind a past of violence captivated the members of the jury of the San Sebastian Festival, who awarded the Golden Shell of the 70th edition to ‘The Kings of the World’. The third fiction feature film by Laura Mora (Medellín, 1981) follows the journey of five children from the streets of Medellín, who embark on a journey to reclaim the land that one of them inherited from his grandmother and that a government ruling now returns to them. The film was among the critics’ favourites, so the list of winners is irreproachable, although it forgets a Spanish cinema that demonstrated its great form. At least, as a consolation, the Silver Shell for the best performance went to Carla Quílez, the teenage mother of ‘La Maternal’.
‘The Kings of the World’ is a political film, as it addresses the painful issue of the restitution of land stolen during the war by paramilitary groups. But above all it is a fascinating adventure in which a group of kids enters the jungle in search of El Dorado. The director peppers the film with hints of magical realism and confirms a personal perspective already present in her previous film, ‘Killing Jesus’. The covid and the social protests in the Cauca area complicated an already impossible shoot as the film starred five kids who had never stood in front of a camera. Some of them even sleep on the streets of Medellin. The night of the premiere in San Sebastián they began to descend the stairs of the Kursaal all cocky. When they got downstairs, the five of them were crying to the applause of the audience. They had never seen the sea.
‘The Kings of the World’, which has been acquired by a Spanish distributor, portrays a devastated and still lawless country. It transcends the social and violent story that we have seen so many times in Latin American cinema and falls into the category of bitter and beautiful lyrical story. When collecting the Golden Shell, the director remembered her father, “whom violence took from me twenty years ago.”
The five protagonists of ‘The kings of the world’.
Special Jury Prize, ‘Runner’, by the American director Marian Mathias, stops at the landscapes of deep America. It tells the drama of an 18-year-old girl whose father dies and accompanies her coffin for her burial in Illinois. A “minimalist and melancholic” film in the words of its debut director, with a very careful photography and that bets on aestheticism to the detriment of the narration: its 76 minutes seemed eternal to many.
The actors Carla Quílez and Paul Kircher, Silver Shell for the best leading performance. /
The best director was the Japanese Genki Kawamura, who in ‘One Hundred Flowers’ bets on delicacy and serenity when narrating the relationship between a mother suffering from Alzheimer’s and her son. The filmmaker’s experience with his grandmother, who stopped recognizing him but remembered moments of her life thanks to the flowers, inspires the story. Since last year, San Sebastian has awarded an acting prize without distinguishing between genres. Carla Quílez, the 14-year-old actress who plays the teenage mother of ‘La Maternal’, whom Pilar Palomero discovered on Instagram, shared it with Paul Kircher, another young man shaken this time by the death of his father in ‘Le lycéen’ by Christophe Honore. Quílez plays a surly and rebellious girl who becomes pregnant and ends up in a shelter along with other young women in the same situation. As the actress is 14 years old, she cannot opt for the Goya.
Awards for ‘Suro’
The gala, presented by the actors Bárbara Goenaga and Gorka Otxoa, also presented the Irizar Basque Film Award, as well as that of the international critics Fipresci, which corresponded to ‘Suro’, the first film by Mikel Gurrea from San Sebastian, which sends a couple from urbanites to starting a new life in the countryside by exploiting a farm of cork oaks that produce cork. The Audience Award went to ‘Argentina, 1985’, by Santiago Mitre, a recreation of the trials of those responsible for the military dictatorship with an overwhelming Ricardo Darín in the role of prosecutor Strassera.
Winners of the 70th edition of the San Sebastian Film Festival
‘The kings of the world’, directed by Laura Mora
Silver Shell for Best Director
Genki Kawamura, for ‘Hyakka/A hundred flowers’
Silver Shell for Best Leading Performance:
Paul KirCher for ‘Le lycéen/Winter boy’ and Carla Quílez for ‘La maternal’, former Achaean
Silver Shell for Best Supporting Performance
Renata Lerman, for ‘The Substitute’
Jury Award for Best Photography
Manuel Abramovich, for ‘Pornomelancholia’
Jury Prize for Best Screenplay
Dong Yun Zhou and Wang Chao for ‘Kong Xiu/A woman’
Special Jury Prize
Marian Mathias, for ‘Runner’
New directors award
“Fifi” by Paul Saintillan
Latin Horizons Awards
‘I have electric dreams’, by Valentina Maurel
‘Godland’, by Hlynur Palmason
City of Donostia Audience Award
‘Argentina, 1985’, by Santiago Miter
Audience Award for Best European Film
‘As bestas’, by Rodrigo Sorogoyen
Irízar Award for Basque Cinema
‘Suro’, by Mikel Urrea
TVE-Another Look Award
‘The yellow roof’, by Isabel Coixet
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