Two movies which come in on immigration from vastly different angles – Laura Ferrés’ “The Permanent Picture” and Ken Loach’s “The Old Oak” – won big Saturday night at Spain’s Valladolid Festival, walking off with its main competition Golden Spike and the Spanish event’s best actor (Dave Turner) and Audience Award plaudits respectively.
The prize ceremony also saw Charlotte Rampling, star of closing film “Juniper” from Matthew J. Saville, accept an enthusiastically applauded Honorific Spike for her career achievement.
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Though decided upon by independent juries, Valladolid’s prizes say much about the new-fit festival after a first-year reboot by new director José Luis Cienfuegos, previously a Gijón and Seville fest head.
Under directors Fernando Lara (1984-2004), Juan Carlos Frugone (2005-08) and Javier Angulo (2009-2022), Valladolid has consolidated as one of Spain’s biggest festivals, after San Sebastián. and a bastion of auteurist, arthouse independent cinema. Few figures in Europe embody this more than Ken Loach who explained when in Valladolid with screenwriter Paul Laverty that “The Old Oak” “explored the seeds of racism.”
At the same time, Cienfuegos told Variety, “Valladolid is a city absolutely dedicated to the festival that demands and needs to open the doors to a new generation of filmmakers.”
A Cannes Critics’ Week winner for her short, “The Disinherited,” Ferrés forms part of Barcelona’s vibrant – and often women-led – new generation filmmaking scene, with “The Permanent Picture,” her first feature, weighing in as a blend of distinctive storytelling, dry humor, captivating cinematography and resonant narrative, Variety has reported. It also traces a journey through the lives of migrants who moved from Andalusia to Catalonia, while striking a novel balance between naturalism and artifice.
“We need young cineasts who are bold and valiant when they express themselves,” said jury member Pan Nalin (“Last Film Show”), giving Ferrés her prize.
Beyond Loach, other established auteurs snagged top plaudits at Valladolid, such as Italy’s Alice Rohrwacher a Silver Spike winner for “La Chimera,” Germany’s Angela Schanelec, who took direction and cinematography (Ivan Marković) for “Music.” Marco Bellocchio shared screenplay for “Kidnapped,” and Denmark’s Lone Scherfig, notably, scooped the Young Seminci Prize for opening film “The Movie Teller.”
Valladolid’s 2023 kudos spread also recognized, however, a slew of high profile new directors, led by Brit Molly Manning Walker with Cannes Un Certain Regard victor “How to Have Sex,” a Pilar Miró best new direction awardee; and U.S. indie doc icons Bill and Turner Ross, whose first fiction outing, “Gasoline Alley,” topped the fest’s Meeting Point, reserved for first and second-time feature directors.
Other new talent nabbing awards were Greece’s Sofia Exarchou (“Animal,” a special mention in Meeting Point), and Spaniards Marta Lallana (“Muyeres,” which took the Green Spike award), and first feature director Victor Iriarte (“Foremost by Night,” a Fipresci laureate), as well as Brazil’s Vera Egito (“The Battle”), the emerging screenwriter-turned-director.
Elite’s” Omar Ayuso-starrer “On the Go,” by first-timers Maria Gisèle Royo and Julia de Castro, won a mention in the Rainbow Spike competition.
Cienfuegos’ other declared objectives – a larger industry heft and international edge – were achieved from the get go by hosting Spain’s 3rd Independent Film Market (MERCI) and an Europa Cinemas Innovation and Audience Development Laboratory.
Targeting Spain’s cinema chain and acquisition execs from broadcasters and streamers who sampled upcoming films, presentations and round tables, MERCI fairly hummed, attended by the country’s top exhibition honchos and valued by distributors as a highly useful event.
As exhibitors need ever more media profile for their titles, just as coverage of movies declines in Spanish outlets, a round table, Strategies of Communication and Marketing to Attract New Audiences, debated how to reach the public, especially younger patrons.
“Think out of the box, ad hoc campaigns. Fortunately, there are no formulas. If a campaign goes really well and you try to repeat it, it won’t function a second time round. Be bold, make mistakes, and you have to dedicate enough budget,” said Joan Pons, communication director at concert promotor Primavera Sound.
Directors such as Jonás Trueba who tour with their films around Spain also won praise. Also, “talent has to be more generous and understand, like Paco Léon or Los Javis, that promotion is part of making a film or series,” said journalist-podcaster María Guerra.
The 2023 Valladolid MERCI Prize was won by veteran producer-distributor-exhibitor Enrique González Macho, whose upscale Cines Renoir chain helped change the face and comfort of Spain’s arthouse scene.
“They’ve always asked me which I liked most: Production, distribution, exhibition? I always answered ‘distribution,’ and I feel it profoundly,” González Macho reflected. “Nobody understands, but it’s distributors who fundamentally decide if a film exists or not, in the sense of being seen, and you always work with prototypes. You never distribute two films which are the same,” he added.
68th Valladolid International Film Festival Prizes:
“La imatge permanenet,” (“The Permanent Picture,” Laura Ferrés, Spain)
“La chimera,” (Alice Rohrwacher, Italy France, Swisszerland)
“Sobre todo de noche,” (“Foremost By Night,” Víctor Iriarte, Spain)
Ribera del Duero Best Director Award
Angela Schanelec, (“Music,” Germany, France, Serbia)
Pilar Miro Best New Director Award
Molly Manning Walker, (“How to Have Sex,” U.K., Greece, Belgium)
Best Actor Award
Dave Turner, (“The Old Oak,” U.K., France, Belgium, Bulgaria)
Best Actress Award
Léa Seydoux, (“The Beast,” France, Canada)
Miguel Delibes Best Screenplay Award
Marco Bellocchio, Susanna Nicchiarelli (“Kidnapped,” Italy, France, Germany)
Ivan Marković, (“Music,” Germany, France, Serbia)
José Salcedo Editing Award
Gesa Jäger, (“The Teachers’ Lounge,” South Korea)
Golden Spike Best Short Film,
“Wander to Wonder,” (Nina Gantz, Netherlands, Belgium, France, U.K.)
EFA Short Film Nominee Valladolid 2024
“Ardent Other,” (Marina Alberti, Spain)
Silver Spike Best Short Film
“Aitana,” (João Gonzalez, Portugal)
“The Old Oak,” (Ken Loach, U.K., France, Belgium)
Youth Jury Award
“How to Have Sex,” (Molly Manning Walker, U.K., Greece, Belgium)
“Gasoline Rainbow,” (Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross, U.S.)
Special Jury Award
“Arthur & Diana,” (Sara Summa, Germany)
“Animal,” (Sofia Exarchou, Greece, Austria, Romania)
“Muyeres,” (Marta Lallana, Spain)
Foreign Short film
“Nocturnal Burger,” (Reema Maya India , USA)
“Heartbreak Hotel,” (Emma Axelroud Bernard, Toujours Panthère, France)
Spain Short Film Night Award
“Meteoro,” (Víctor Moreno, Spain)
“Trenc D’Alba,” (“Crack of Dawn,” Anna Llargués, Spain)
Youth Jury Award
“One Last Evening,” (Lukas Nathrath, Germany)
“Between Revolutions,” (Vlad Petri, Romania, Croatia, Catar, Irán)
“Pictures of Ghosts,” (Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazil)
Best Short Film Award
“Ours,” (Morgane Frund, Switzerland)
“The Mother of All Lies,” (Asmae El Moudir, Morocco, UAE, Catar, Egypt)
Youth Jury Award Special Mention
“Hello Dankness,” (Sodda Jerk, Australia)
Recoletas Award Best Film
“Femme” (Sam H. Freeman, Ng Choon Ping, U.K.)
Doc Spain Award
“Zinzindurrunkarratz,” (Oskar Alegria, Spain)
Castilla y León Short Film Award
“El Rey de la Semana,” (David Pérez Sañudo, Spain)
Green Spike Award
“Muyeres,” (Marta Lallana, Spain)
“A Batalha da Rua Maria Antônia,” (Vera Egito, Brazil)
Youth Seminci Award
“La Contadora de Películas,” (“The Movie Teller,” Lone Scherfig, Spain, France, Chile)
Rainbow Spike Award
“All of Us Strangers,” (Andrew Haigh, U.K.-U.S.)
Rainbow Spike Award Special Mention
“On The Go,” (María Giséle Royo, Julia de Castro, Spain)
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