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Goya Awards: Pedro Almodóvar vs. Guillermo del Toro

Penélope Cruz Yohana Cobo Volver
Maribel Verdú Ivana Baquero Pan's Labyrinth
Yohana Cobo, Penélope Cruz in Volver (top); Maribel Verdú, Ivana Baquero in Pan's Labyrinth (bottom)

The Spanish Academy's Goya Awards were presented on Jan. 28. Although best picture winner Volver seemed like an easy pick, it actually faced stiff competition from both Agustín Díaz-Yanes' adventure period piece Alatriste and Guillermo del Toro's dark fantasy Pan's Labyrinth.

Ultimately, Volver took home five Goyas: best film, best direction (Pedro Almodóvar), best actress (Penélope Cruz), best supporting actress (Carmen Maura), and best original score (Alberto Iglesias).

Almodóvar, however, failed to win the original screenplay award, which went to Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro's film, in fact, turned out to be the top Goya winner that evening: seven trophies in all. Among the other Pan's Labyrinth winners were Guillermo Navarro (best cinematography), Bernat Villaplana (best editing), and Ivana Baquero (best new actress).

Viggo Mortensen in Alatriste

Local box office sensation Alatriste, which stars American actor Viggo Mortensen, finished the evening with only three awards: best art direction, best costume design, and best line/executive producer. (To this day, I haven't been able to figure out why the Goyas have this “producer” category – or how the Spanish Academy voters pick the best line/executive producer of the year since they haven't been involved in each production. Can they actually tell who's the best exec by watching what's on screen?)

Among the other winners were Stephen Frears' British comedy-drama The Queen, chosen the best European film, and Alejandro Doria's Argentinean drama Las Manos / The Hands, the director's first feature film in 16 years, which was picked as the best Spanish-language foreign film. (Curiously, the Spanish Academy lacks a “best foreign-language film” category.) Inspired by real-life events, Las Manos tells the story of a priest who effected miraculous cures using only his hands.

Juan Diego, Juan Diego Botto in Go Away from Me

The best actor was veteran Juan Diego (above, left, with Juan Diego Botto) in Vete de mí / Go Away from Me. Earlier this year, Diego's performance in that film earned him the best actor award at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

Almodóvar was absent from the festivities – according to himself, out of sheer exhaustion; according to rumors, out of sheer tension. He'd had problems with the Spanish Academy in the past – he felt they snubbed his work – to the point that he and his brother, producer Agustín Almodóvar, had withdrawn their membership.

Not helping matters, the director was disappointed at Volver having just missed out on an Oscar nomination in the best foreign-language film category. Almodóvar candidly referred to the Hollywood Academy's snub as “a bucket of cold water.” Adding insult to injury, Goya competitor Pan's Labyrinth was shortlisted in no less than six Oscar categories, including best foreign-language film, best original screenplay (del Toro), and best cinematography (Guillermo Navarro). (Volver only managed a best actress nod for Penélope Cruz.)

“If since September they say you're the favorite in every magazine,” Agustín told the Spanish press, “there comes one day when you look at yourself in the mirror and says, 'You're the favorite.'"

At least with the Spanish Academy voters, Almodóvar indeed was.

Pedro Almodóvar quote from Estrella Digital

Agustín Almodóvar quote from Heraldo

Spanish Film Writers winners

2007 Spanish Film Writers Circle Awards: January 16, 2007 

Best Film
* Volver, by Pedro Almodóvar
El Laberinto del fauno / Pan's Labyrinth, by Guillermo del Toro
La noche de los girasoles, by Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo
Un franco, 14 pesetas, by Carlos Iglesias

Best Foreign Film
The Queen, by Stephen Frears (UK-France-Italy)
Copying Beethoven, by Agnieszka Holland (US-Germany)
Little Miss Sunshine, by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (US)
* Crash, by Paul Haggis (US)

Best Documentary
* Cineastas en acción, by Carlos Benpar
La leyenda del tiempo, by Isaki Lacuesta
La silla de Fernando, by Luis Alegre and David Trueba
La gran final, by Gerardo Olivares

Best Director
* Pedro Almodóvar for Volver
Guillermo del Toro for Pan's Labyrinth
Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo for La noche de los girasoles
Cesc Gay for Ficción

Best Actor
Juan Diego for Vete de mí
* Carmelo Gómez for La noche de los girasoles
Daniel Brühl for Salvador
Sergi López for Pan's Labyrinth

Best Actress
* Penélope Cruz for Volver
Maribel Verdú for Pan's Labyrinth
Marta Etura for AzulOscuroCasiNegro
Verónica Sánchez for Mía Sarah

Best Supporting Actor
* Fernando Fernán Gómez for Mía Sarah
Javier Cámara for Ficción
Celso Bugallo for La noche de los girasoles
Eduard Fernández for Alatriste

Best Supporting Actress
* Carmen Maura for Volver
Blanca Portillo for Volver
Lola Dueñas for Volver
Cuca Escribano for El camino de los ingleses

Best Original Screenplay
* Pedro Almodóvar for Volver
Guillermo del Toro for Pan's Labyrinth
Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo for La noche de los girasoles
Carlos Iglesias for Un franco, 14 pesetas

Best Adapted Screenplay
Agustín Díaz Yanes for Alatriste
* Lluís Arcarazo for Salvador
Antonio Soler for El camino de los ingleses
Augusto Cabada, Luis Llosa and Zachary Sklar for La fiesta del chivo

Best Cinematography

José Luis Alcaine for Volver
* Guillermo Navarro for Pan's Labyrinth
Paco Femenia for Alatriste
Ángel Iguácel for La noche de los girasoles

Best Editing
José Salcedo for Volver
* Bernat Vilaplana for Pan's Labyrinth
Pedro Ribeiro for La noche de los girasoles
Aixalà and Santy Borricón, for Salvador Puig Antich

Best Score
* Alberto Iglesias for Volver
Javier Navarrete for Pan's Labyrinth
Cesar Benito for Mía Sarah
Lluís Llach for Salvador

Best Newcomer
Director Gustavo Ron for Mía Sarah
Actress Ivana Baquero for Pan's Labyrinth
Actress Verónica Echegui for Yo soy la Juani
* Director Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo for La noche de los girasoles

Honorary Medal: Amparo Rivelles

Journalism Award: José María Aresté for his book Escritores de cine

Solidarity Medal: Sud Express, by Chema de la Peña and Gabriel Velázquez

Luc Picard, Fatou N'Diaye in A Sunday in Kigali

Jutra Awards Nominations: 'Bon Cop Bad Cop' Tops

Colm Feore, Patrick Huard in Bon Cop, Bad CopWith 12 nods each, the top nominees for Quebec's Oscars, the Prix Jutra, are Érik Canuel's Bon Cop, Bad Cop (right), an odd couple comedy that became the top-grossing homegrown film ever in Canada (with about Can$13 million, most of it generated in Quebec itself), and Robert Favreau's Un dimanche à Kigali / A Sunday in Kigali (above), the story of a man (Luc Picard) in search of his lover (Fatou N'Diaye) in post-genocide Rwanda. Both films are also well represented at this year's Genie Awards, the equivalent to the Oscars for all of Canada.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop and A Sunday in Kigali were nominated for the Prix Jutra in the best film category, along with Philippe Falardeau's Congorama, a dramatic comedy about a Belgian man (Olivier Gourmet) who travels to Quebec in search of his biological family, and Stéphane Lapointe's La Vie secrète des gens heureux / The Secret Life of Happy People, which revolves around a highly dysfunctional suburban Montreal family.

Kamataki with Matthew Smiley, Tatsuya Fuji

Lapointe, however, failed to nab a matching best direction nod. In his place is Claude Gagnon, whose Kamataki (above) follows a suicidal young Canadian man (Matthew Smiley) who slowly learns to appreciate life after spending time with his unconventional uncle (Tatsuya Fuji) in rural Japan.

The best actor shortlist is off-kilter this year, with two nominations going for “couples” instead of individual actors. Both the bon cop and the bad cop – Colm Feore and Patrick Huard – were nominated as one, and so were Congorama's two male leads, Paul Ahmarani and Olivier Gourmet. According to Jutra Awards general manager Henry Welsh, the producers of the two films wanted their co-stars on a single ballot to avoid having them compete against each other.

Why that was allowed is unclear, considering that it puts the “single” performers – Luc Picard (for Un dimanche à Kigali, left) and Marc Béland (for Guide de la petite vengeance / The Little Revenge Guide) at a disadvantage.

Danielle Proulx in Family HistoryThe only 2006 acting nominees who are back in '07 are the aforementioned Luc Picard (who was nominated for L'Audition last year) and Danielle Proulx (right), winner of the 2006 best supporting actress Jutra for her concerned mother with ESP in C.R.A.Z.Y., and who's back again this year, this time as a lead, in Histoire de famille / Family Story.

Regarding the fact that the Jutra nominations were announced on the same day as the Oscars, Henry Welsh explained, “We decided and booked everything before the Oscars chose their date. I could've changed it but I thought it would give the Jutras a certain aura if they're given the same media treatment (in Quebec) as the Oscars. It's a big cinema day.”

Prix Jutra - Jutra AwardJutra nominees are picked by members of several groups representing Quebec's film professionals. To be eligible, films must have played at least one week in Quebec theaters in 2006.

The award itself is named after Québécois filmmaker Claude Jutra. (Jutra killed himself in 1986. At the time, the 56-year-old filmmaker was suffering from Alzheimer's.)

Quote: Canada.com


Bruno Ganz, Teo Gheorghiu in VitusThe 2007 Swiss Film Awards were announced yesterday at the 42nd Solothurn Film Festival.

Fredi M. Murer's Vitus (right), which is one of the semi-finalists for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, was selected as best Swiss film of 2006. Vitus, the story of a reluctant piano prodigy and his grandfather, stars Teo Gheorghiu and Bruno Ganz. It has sold nearly 200,000 tickets since its release in German-speaking Switzerland last year.

The best documentary winner was Heidi Specogna's The Brief Life of José Antonio Gutierrez, about a Guatemalan street kid who, after immigrating to the United States, joined the U.S. marine corps hoping to gain U.S. citizenship but ended up as the first dead U.S. soldier in the Iraq War.

The best film and best documentary awards are each worth SFr60,000 (US$48,000).

Mirjana Karanovic in Das Fraulein

Screenwriter-director Andrea Štaka received the very first Swiss Film Award for best screenplay for Das Fräulein (above), about a Serbian immigrant (Marija Skaricic) who befriends another Balkan immigrant (Mirjana Karanovic, the outstanding lead in Grbavica) living in Zurich.

Das Fräulein had previously won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival and the Heart of Sarajevo at the Sarajevo Film Festival.

Jean-Luc Bideau was chosen best performer in a leading role (the Swiss Film Awards have no best actor/best actress split) in Jean-Stéphane Bron's comedy Mon frère se marie / My Brother Is Getting Married, about a dysfunctional family's attempts to seem functional during a wedding ceremony. Natacha Koutchoumov was the best supporting performer for Pas de panique / No Panic.

The most successful 2006 Swiss releases were Michael Steiner's Grounding and Bettina Oberli's Die Herbstzeitlosen / Late Bloomers, each with 400,000 admissions sold. (For comparison's sake, the most successful Swiss film ever is the 1978 comedy Die Schweizermacher, which sold nearly one million admissions.)

Late Bloomers by Bettina Oberli

Grounding is a drama about how the demise of Swissair affected the people of Switzerland, while Late Bloomers (above) revolves around four elderly women (Stephanie Glaser, Heidi Maria Glössner, Monica Gubser, and Annemarie Düringer) who scandalize their little town when they decide to turn a local shop into a chic lingerie store.

Swiss productions nabbed 10 percent of the local box office, up from 6 percent in 2005. U.S. productions dominated the market (60 percent of box office revenues), followed by French (8.7 percent), British (8.3 percent), and German films (6 percent).

The Swiss Film Awards are organized by the Swiss Federal Culture Office, in association with Swiss Films, SRG SSR idée suisse, the Locarno International Film Festival, the Nyon documentary film festival (Visions du Réel), and the Solothurn Film Festival.

The Solothurn festival continues until Jan. 28.

Source for Swiss box office figures: Swissinfo.com

Guldebagge winners

The Hollywood Academy Award nominations were announced yesterday, one day after the winners of the Swedish Oscars — the Guldbagge (Golden Beetles) — were announced to considerably less fanfare (except, perhaps, in Sweden).

In any case, just because Golden Beetle winners are less internationally famous than the Oscar nominees that doesn't necessarily mean they're inferior. In fact, one of the nominees, the coming-of-age drama Farväl Falkenberg / Falkenberg Farewell is, in this blogger's humblest-of-the-humble opinion, superior to several of the films competing for this year's Academy Awards.

The best picture winner, however, was a film I haven't seen, the musical drama Förortsungar / Kidz in da Hood. The story of an undocumented immigrant who, following her grandfather's death, becomes attached to a rough-looking musician, Förortsungar also won awards for directors Ylva Gustavsson and Catti Edfeldt, screenwriters Gustavsson and Hans Renhäll, and actor Gustaf Skarsgård (as the musician), plus a special trophy for Fabian Torsson's original score. Förortsungar will be screened at the Generation sidebar of this year's Berlin Film Festival.

Among the other winners were best actress Haddy Jallow, a 20-year-old Gambian immigrant who plays a 15-year-old rape victim in Säg att du älskar mig / Say That You Love Me, and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's Das Leben der Anderen / The Lives of Others as best foreign film. (Volver was an also-ran, but at least it did get a nomination…)

Busy with his film's premiere in France, Henckel von Donnersmarck was unable to attend the Guldbagge ceremony. In a letter read by German Cultural Attaché Ralf Krautkrämer, the filmmaker explained he was thrilled to win the Guldbagge because of a young Swedish girl in his (very distant) past and because of Ingmar Bergman. “That Mr. Bergman and I both have the same bug in our possession thrills me greatly.”

Quote: Swedish Film Institute

Swedish Film Institute's Golden Beetle Awards

The 2006 Swedish Film Institute's Golden Beetle (Guldbagge aka Golden Bug) award nominations were announced on January 10, 2007.

The 2006 Golden Beetle award winners were announced at Cirkus in Stockholm on January 22, 2007. 

Best Film
Farväl Falkenberg / Falkenberg Farewell - Producer: Anna Anthony
* Förortsungar / Kidz in da Hood - Producers: Peter Holthausen, Pontus Sjöman
Storm - Producer: Karl Fredrik Ulfung

Best Foreign Language Film
Att återvända / Volver - Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Babel - Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
* De andras liv / Das Leben der Anderen / The Lives of Others - Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Best Documentary Film
Alice och jag / Alice and Me - Directors: Rebecka Rasmusson
Jag minns Håkan Alexandersson / I Remember Håkan Alexandersson - Director: Carl Johan De Geer
* Vikarien / The Substitute - Directors: Åsa Blanck and Johan Palmgren

Best Director
Jesper Ganslandt for Farväl Falkenberg / Falkenberg Farewell
* Ylva Gustavsson and Catti Edfeldt for Förortsungar / Kidz in da Hood 
Anders Nilsson for När mörkret faller / When Darkness Falls

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Jonas Karlsson, for his role as Anders in Offside
Anastasios Soulis, for his role as Jonas in Underbara älskade / My Open Arms
* Gustaf Skarsgård, for his role as Johan in Förortsungar / Kidz in da Hood

Best Actress in a Leading Role
* Haddy Jallow, for her role as Fatou in Säg att du älskar mig / Say That You Love Me
Oldoz Javidi, for her role as Leyla in När mörkret faller / When Darkness Falls 
Amanda Ooms, for her role as Lisa in Sök / Search

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Peter Engman, for his role as Håkan in När mörkret faller / When Darkness Falls
David Johnson, for his role as David in Farväl Falkenberg / Falkenberg Farewell
* Anders A. Rosendahl, for his role as Roffe in Hemligheten / The Secret

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
* Lia Boysen, for her role as Vera in Sök / Search 
Lena Endre, for her role as Vonna in Göta Kanal 2 - Kanalkampen
Lena Nyman, for her role as Edith in Att göra en pudel / White Trash

Best Screenplay
Jesper Ganslandt and Fredrik Wenzel, Farväl Falkenberg / Falkenberg Farewell
* Ylva Gustavsson and Hans Renhäll, Förortsungar / Kidz in da Hood 
Anders Nilsson and Joakim Hansson, När mörkret faller / When Darkness Falls

Best Cinematography - George Eastman Award
Crille Forsberg, Om Gud vill / God Willing
Peter Gerdehag, Hästmannen / The Incredible Horseman 
* Linus Sandgren, Storm

Best Short Film
* Aldrig som första gången / Never Like the First Time - Director: Jonas Odell
Mannen som inte kom någonstans / The Man Who Got Nowhere - Director: Peter Larsson
Tillväxtsjukan / Radicalized - Director: Klara Swantesson

Achievement in the specialist categories film editing, set design, costumes, make-up, special effects and animation
Marina Krig, Tusenbröder - Återkomsten

Best Achievement in the specialist categories sound engineering, mixing and original score
Fabian Torsson, Förortsungar / Kidz in da Hood

Lifetime Achievement Award
Film critic Nils Petter Sundgren

The 2006 Ingmar Bergman Award
Actress Angela Kovács

The Gullspira (for extraordinary contributions in films for children)
Director Catti Edfeldt

Audience Award
Underbara Älskade / My Open Arms by Johan Brisinger


The 2006 Golden Beetle nominees were chosen by a 33-member jury, except for the Best Short Film and Best Documentary Film categories, whose nominees were selected by a special committee. Only the winners were announced in the "specialist categories."

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