Penelope Cruz Receives Donostia Award at San Sebastian Film Festival

Penelope Cruzis being heralded in her home country…

The 45-year-old Oscar-winning Spanish actress has received San Sebastian Film Festival‘s biggest honor, the Donostia Award.

Penelope Cruz

Cruz was given the prize — which had been announced in May — over the weekend during a gala ceremony in a surprise presentation by her close friend, U2lead singerBono, who praised Cruz for her film roles and her off-screen concern for humanity.

“Penélope’s life on the screen fascinates me because it is a family drama,” he said. “Artists like us, like me, get lost in our own selves. Penelope gets lost in others. That’s why we get lost in her.” 

Upon accepting the award, Cruz spoke out against domestic violence against women in Spain and around the world.

“So far this year, 44 women have been murdered by gender-based violence in our country, and since 2003 more than a thousand. How many women are being murdered around the world?”, she asked. “I hope that when a woman finds the superhuman strength she needs to tell what she is going through in such a situation, she will be heard at first and not when it is too late.”

Cruz dedicated the award to her parents, her children and husband, fellow actor Javier Bardem, and three directors she has worked with: Pedro AlmodóvarBigas Lunaand Fernando Trueba.

Cruz is the youngest actress to receive the Donostia prize, three of which are awarded each year.

Greek director Costa-Gavrasand Canadian actor Donald Sutherlandwere named winners of the honor earlier in the week at the festival in the northern Spanish seaside resort town. Cruz won the best actress Oscar in 2008 for her role in Woody Allen‘s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, becoming the first Spanish actress to win an Academy Award.

Benjamín Naishtat Signs with United Talent Agency (UTA)

Benjamín Naishtat is going global…

The 32-year-old Argentinian writer and director has signed with United Talent Agency (UTA) in all areas.

Benjamín Naishtat

Born in Buenos Aires, Naishtat is best known for creating experimental and fictional shorts centered on historical and societal complexities. He has made a name for himself on the global film circuit: His first feature, History of Fear played at the Berlin Film Festival, and it won the Best Film Award at the Jeonju International Film Festival.

Additionally, he wrote and directed The Movement, which participated in the Cineasti del Presente section of the Locarno Film Festival.

His most recent film Rojo made its world premiere earlier this year at the Toronto International Film Festival in the Platform section; it t was also an official selection at the San Sebastián Film Festival where it won the Silver Shell for Best Director.

Teaser Clip Released for Penelope Cruz & Javier Bardem’s Pablo Escobar-Themed Film “Loving Pablo”

Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are sharing the Loving

The 43-year-old Spanish actress and her 48-year-old actor-husband have shared the first clip of their latest film, Loving Pablo.

Penelope Cruz & Javier Bardem in Loving Pablo

Directed and written by Fernando Leon de Aranoa, the story is based on the book Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar by Virginia Vallejo, the Colombian journalist who had a volatile affair with drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Bardem and Cruz play the lovers.

It’s a reteam for Bardem and De Aranoa after 2002’s Goya-winning Mondays In The Sun. Bardem says it took him quite a while to get Loving Pablo together. “I was attracted to playing Pablo Escobar, for many years now. It was around 1998 that I started to be intrigued by this character as a person. And since then I’ve been offered other Escobar roles, but I always refused them because there wasn’t any feeling beyond a stereotype.”

The story chronicles the rise and fall of Escobar and his relationship with Vallejo throughout a reign of terror that tore a country apart. Peter Sarsgaard also stars.

Bardem elaborates, “I think one of the themes that we are working with is what the word ‘enough’ means. Enough of wanting to get some place, wanting to have more, wanting to be better, bigger, stronger, and what kind of effect it has on a person’s mind when there is never enough. For Pablo, nothing was ever enough, he always wanted more and he had all of the resources and the tools to become stronger and more powerful. That will eventually destroy a person’s mind.”

The unravelling of Escobar’s relationship to the people in his life is key to the film. “That’s why it’s called Loving Pablo,” says Bardem, “because this movie is through Virginia’s eyes but also it’s through all the eyes of all of those who loved Pablo Escobar on a personal level and envied and admired him also as a savior. Our movie is about what happened when they ultimately discover what kind of a person he really is and the world that will leave behind.”

Although Cruz says she’s never met Vallejo, she has “studied about 800 hours of various interviews and shows that she did as a journalist and TV presenter. She is the one that trained Escobar and taught him how to use the media to communicate, how to deal with the press, how to address the public. In his political career, she became a significant figure.”

Cruz adds: “When you portray a character like Virginia, I can’t judge her or justify her. I have the feeling she didn’t know quite what she was getting into. As an actor, I just have to try to understand what was going through her mind when she made some of those decisions. After a while, when she wanted to get out of that relationship, she couldn’t, and that affected her life in so many different ways. There were some scenes that were very hard-core, very hard to play because you had to go to those places. And for me, it was important that this movie was not glamorizing the world of the Narco. I feel like some of those scenes have to leave you with pain in your stomach. It cannot be a gratuitous violence. I think that our film has accomplished that.”

Loving Pablo will have its world premiere next week at the Venice Film Festival. It will also screen at the San Sebastian Film Festival where it’s the closing-night pic.

Camara Wins Best Actor Award at San Sebastian Film Festival

Javier Camara is having a Shell of an awards season…

The 48-year-old Spanish actor picked up the Silver Shell for Best Actor at the San Sebastian Film Festival, alongside co-winner Ricardo Darin.

Javier Camara

Camara and Darin won the double Silver Shell for their starring roles in Cesc Gay’s Truman, which was the most-applauded prize of the evening.

The film centers on Tomás (Camara), who returns to his hometown Madrid in order to convince his childhood friend Julian (Darin), whom he hasn’t spoken to in years, to continue his chemotherapy treatment.

Darin, a favorite at San Sebastian, quoted a tweet about the film that said, in Spanish: “at 23 I went to see a film about death and I think I learned everything about life.”

Meanwhile, Yordanka Ariosa took home the Silver Shell for Best Actress for her performance in The King of Havana, Agusti Villaronga‘s adaptation of the Pedro Juan Gutierrez novel.

It was a surprise win for the previously unknown Ariosa, who beat out Freeheld´s Oscar-tipped powerhouse Julianne Moore and Ellen Page.

In addition to the official awards, San Sebastian offered coveted cash prizes for competitions from many of the sidebars.

Argentinean filmmaker Santiago Mitre’s Paulina won the €35,000 cash prize that goes with the Horizontes Award for Latin American films.

Spanish filmmaker Asier Altuna’s Amama won the Irizar Basque Film Award with €20,000, given to a film with 20 percent financing from the local region. 

Brazilian director Eliane Caffe’s The Cambridge Squatter won the Films in Progress top prize, which awards post-production financing to a nearly finished film, in addition to a spot at the festival next year.

Larrain’s “The Club” Selected as Chile’s Bid for the Oscar’s Foreign Film Category

Pablo Larrain is Chile’s choice for Oscar glory once again…

Pablo Larrain

The 39-year-old Chilean filmmaker and former Oscar nominee’s latest film, The Club, has been selected as the nation’s bid for the Academy AwardsBest Foreign Language Film category, the Chilean Minister of Culture Ernesto Ottone has announced.

At the official send-off for the delegation that will attend the San Sebastian Film Festival, Ottone also announced Maite Alberdi’s documentary Tea Time will be the candidate for the Spanish Goya Awards.

A gripping portrait of four former priests who live secluded in a cabin as a punishment for their past sins, Larrain’s film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year.

 

One of Chile’s most renowned directors today, Larrain’s previous film No, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, grabbed a Foreign Language nomination in 2013. Before that, his film Tony Manero was Chile’s entry in 2008, but it failed to get a nomination.

Garcia Bernal also stars in Larrain’s upcoming Neruda, about the political persecution of Chile’s renowned poet and left-wing senator Pablo Neruda, played by Luis Gnecco.

His next project, the Jackie Kennedy biopic Jackie, starring Natalie Portman, will be produced by Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin, and Chile’s Fabula, lead by Larrain’s brother Juan De Dios.

“What is relevant now is that we have two Chilean films that have already been awarded abroad, and they are aiming to secure a nomination for these academies,” said Ottone. “These awards are an important platform to make local productions visible, as they are creating a unique mark. So, we congratulate their creative teams for proposing new ways to see today’s Chilean society, both from an intimate perspective in Tea Time, and from the social questioning The Club suggests,” he added.

Amenabar’s “Regression” to Open the San Sebastian Film Festival

Alejandro Amenabar latest project will have its world premiere at one of the most important cinema festivals in the world.

The 43-year-old Spanish-Chilean director’s Regression will open the 63rd annual San Sebastian Film Festival as part of its world premiere.

Alejandro Amenabar

“The world premiere of the film, presented in the Official Selection out of competition, will take place on September 18 in the Kursaal Auditorium,” the festival’s official website announced on Friday.

Ethan Hawke, Emma Watson, David Thewlis and David Dencik star in the psychological thriller, following in the path he forged with favorites like The Others and Open Your Eyes.

The story focuses on a detective, played by Hawke, who is investigating the claims of a young woman, Watson, who has accused her father, played by Dencik, of a crime that he has no recollection of committing.

When the father unexpectedly admits his guilt, a renowned psychologist, David Thewlis, is brought in to help the father rediscover his apparently repressed memories.

Regression is an English-language film shot in Canada, and will hit select cinemas just a few weeks after its screening in San Sebastian.

Regression will open in Spain on October 2 followed by key territories, including Germany, the UK, France, Italy, China and Korea later this fall. The remaining worldwide releases will take place in the months to follow,” the announcement added.

Rondón’s “Pelo Malo” Chosen as Part of the Global Lens Films Series

Mariana Rondón is having a good (bad) hair day…

The Venezuelan cinema director, screenwriter and producer’s latest film.

Pero Malo

Pelo Malo (Bad Hair) has been chosen as one of the Global Film Initiative’s 10 films from around the world for its 2014 Global Lens Films Series, which is distributed by the New York-based FilmRise.

Rondón’s Pelo Malo, which she wrote and directed, is one of 10 titles being added to the 96-title GFI library, whose exclusive distribution rights FilmRise, headed by CEO Danny Fisher, acquired last year.

The dramatic film, which won the Golden Shell award at the 61st San Sebastian Film Festival, centers on a nine-year-old boy’s preening obsession with straightening his hair, eliciting a tidal wave of homophobic panic in his hard-working mother.

In addition to Pelo Malo, the lineup that includes Turkey’s 11’e 10 kala (10 to 11) and Babamin sesi (Voice of My Father), India’s Chitra Sutram (The Image Threads), Armenia’s Yerku ashkharhic i hishatak (From Two Worlds as a Keepsake), Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Halimin put (Halima’s Path), Rwanda’s Imbabazi (The Pardon), Morocco’s Wadaan Carmen (Adios Carmen), Cameroon’s Ninah’s Dowry and Egypt’s La Moakhza (Excuse My French).

Over the past 10 years, the Global Film Initiative has provided grants and distribution support for the Global Lens series, which supports filmmakers in the developing world by providing programming for festivals, libraries, cultural institutions, schools and art house cinemas throughout North America.

“We are excited to leverage our partnership with FilmRise as we continue our work to present the very best of world cinema as a means of promoting cross-cultural understanding,” Susan Weeks Coulter, founder and board chair of the Global Film Initiative, said

del Solar’s “Magallanes” Wins Films in Progress Award at San Sebastian Film Festival

The first time’s the charm for Salvador del Solar

The 44-year-old Peruvian actor’s directorial debut Magallanes picked up the Films in Progress award on Wednesday night at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

Salvador del Solar

del Solar’s film portrays a man who’s humdrum life suddenly changes when a woman he met while serving in Peru’s military leaps into his taxi.

Magallanes, a Peru-Argentina-Columbia co-production, beat out five other promising, yet unfinished film contenders, including Jayro Bustamante‘s Ixcanul, which received an honorable mention from the competition jury.

The Films in Progress sidebar gives international buyers of Spanish-speaking films a sneak peek at strong projects aimed at the world market.

del Solar just starred in Javier Fuentes-León‘s The Vanished Elephant, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month.

Also in San Sebastian, the Europe-Latin America co-production forum award for the best 2014 project went to Armando Capo’s Agosto, a Costa Rica-Cuba co-production. The jury gave an honorable mention to Walls, directed by Spain’s Pablo Iraburu and Migueltxo Molina.

The San Sebastian festival runs in Spain’s Basque region until Saturday.

Arvelo’s “The Liberator,” Starring Edgar Ramirez, Selected as Venezuela’s Oscar Submission for Foreign Language Film

Alberto Arvelo is one step closer to a possible Oscar nomination…

The Venezuelan filmmaker’s latest project The Liberator has been selected to be the country’s submission to the Foreign Language Film category for the next Academy Awards, according to the Venezuelan paper Ultimas Noticias.

The Liberator

The paper reports that a selection of Venezuelan film industry professionals voted on Arvelo’s film earlier this week.

The voting was reportedly divided between The Liberator and Mariana Rondon’s indie drama Bad Hair, winner of the Golden Shell at the San Sebastian Film Festival last year.

An absolute rarity for local standards in terms of production value, The Liberator is a $50 million co-production between Spain and Venezuela about military and political leader Simon Bolivar, who commanded an army that freed a great part of the region from Spanish colonialism back in the 19th century, and is regarded as a forefather of South America, together with Argentine Jose de San Martin.

The epic period piece stars Venezuela’s most high profile international actor Edgar Ramírez (Carlos, Zero Dark Thirty) as Bolivar, with a score by the L. A. Philharmonic’s music director Gustavo Dudamel, and a script by Timothy J. Sexton, who co-wrote Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men.

The film’s unusually international crew also features Spanish cinematographer Xavi Gimenez (The MachinistAgora), production designer Paul D. Austerberry (Twilight Saga: Eclipse), costume designer Sonia Grande (Midnight in Paris) and editor Tariq Anwar (American Beauty, The King’s Speech).

The Liberator opened in Venezuela on July 24, selling more than 500,000 tickets to date.

The film is scheduled for US release on October 3.

Saba’s “The Cleaner” to Represent Peru in the Oscars’ Foreign Language Film Race

Adrián Saba’s first feature film could earn him an Oscar nomination…

The half-Peruvian filmmaker’s sci-fi drama The Cleaner has been selected as Peru’s submission for the foreign language category at the Academy Awards.

The Cleaner

The announcement was made by the South American country’s Ministry of Culture, which established a committee for the selection formed by Javier Alfredo PortocarreroRodrigo Ernesto PortalesRafael Álvaro Sedano and Pierre Emile Vandoorne.

The committee’s selection act stated the film was chosen “for its original proposal of an apocalyptic Lima, where loneliness and strain are shown through an effective use of cinematographic elements, expressing a city that slowly fades out.”

The Cleaner tells the story of a forensic cleaner (played by Victor Prada) who takes charge of an 8-year-old (Adrian Du Bois) orphaned by a strange epidemic in Lima.

The film won a Special Mention of the New Directors Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival last year.