Seminci rewards the generation which helped to make Spanish cinema greater

Directors Icíar Bollaín and Juan Antonio Bayona, actor Eduard Fernández and TVE programme ‘Versión Española’ collect the Honorary Spike at Spanish Cinema Day

10/23/2018 – The Spanish Cinema Gala of the 63rd Valladolid International Film Festival had four main protagonists this year: directors Icíar Bollaín and Juan Antonio Bayona, actor Eduard Fernández and TVE programme Versión EspañolaSeminci paid tribute to these four representatives of Spanish cinema for their “tenacity”, “talent” and “commitment to cinema”, awarding them the Honorary Spike.

Iciar Bollain

On Tuesday 23rd October, the Festival held an evening for professionals from the cinema industry to come together at Calderón Theatre. The first to collect the Honorary Spike was Icíar Bollaín, who warmly embraced Luis Tosar (winner of the prize at the 62nd edition of the festival), her friend and colleague who she has directed in six films. “I’m so pleased to receive this reward, and even more so because I’m collecting it from Luis”, she said. His presence was a surprise which “broke her heart” when she saw him on stage. In turn, Tosar confessed that he “was lucky to land in the world of cinema thanks to Bollaín”, who opened the doors of the industry to him with Flores de otro mundo (1999). “Icíar is one of the greatest directors in the country. She has a great sensitivity with the actors, which isn’t at all easy in today’s world”, he emphasised.

“Directors are never alone, several colleagues have come here today to see me collect the Spike (including director Jose Luís Cuerda), and we are also accompanied by viewers who watch and appreciate our films”, she added. The director has fond memories of Valladolid. “This is where I started out as a director with Hola, ¿estás sola? (1995) and it was here that I discovered that I was a director when I was asked for the first time”, she confessed. “It’s been a long road, it hasn’t been easy, but little by little more female directors have arrived on the scene, and more will keep arriving.” Her admiration for the director Chus Gutiérrez prompted her to dedicate the Spike “to girls”, sending out the following message to them: “you can do it, girls, there are lots of stories that need telling”.

Eduard Fernández, who, with his work as a mime, which he “loved” as he considered himself a “great success” for acting for just seven minutes, never imagined that he “would be collecting the Honorary Spike in Valladolid one day”. The actor was about to give up on acting when he received a call from casting director Sara Bilbatúa to form part of the cast for Zapping (1999), which paved his way into the film world. That same year, he participated in the team for Los lobos de Washington by Mariano Barroso, a role which brought him great success and which is greatly admired by Seminci’s director, Javier Angulo, as he confessed at the press conference held several hours before the gala.

Eduard Fernández

 “Great, a nice-looking prize! They aren’t usually”, he exclaimed, laughing. “It’s an honour to be awarded the prize by Imanol Uribe”. The filmmaker who directed the actor in Lejos del mar (2015) highlighted the actor’s “meticulousness” in his work and “how he loses himself” in the character during film shoots. “He’s an actor I’d work with on every film, because he makes the characters grow; he creates a whole world from whatever he has available”, he said.

Juan Antonio Bayona started out in the cinema profession thanks to the ESCAC [Cinema and Audiovisual School of Catalonia]. “I’m very pleased to receive this award from a festival which I have always admired due to its support for independent film, and I’m so excited to collect it from Geraldine Chapman”, he exclaimed. The duo, who are colleagues and friends, described how they had organised a surprise dinner with the director’s parents not long ago, in which they recalled the hunger suffered by both his parents -Andalusian emigrants in Catalonia- and Charles Chaplin, underlining how just a generation later “she is a global star and I’m here receiving this Honorary Spike”. “That convinces me that culture is the most powerful weapon we have against poverty”, he said movingly.

With a big smile, Geraldine Chaplin handed the Honorary Spike to Bayona to shouts of ‘J’. “Thank you to Piedad and Juan Antonio for bringing this excellent director into the world”. The filmmaker’s first contact with Seminci dates back to 2007, when the festival programmed his first short film, Mis Vacaciones (1999), as part of a cycle organised by ESCAC. He dedicated the award to the school, as well as to his parents and to festivals (where he had the opportunity to meet Guillermo del Toro).

The 63rd edition of the Festival also rewarded the TVE programme ‘Versión Española’ with the Honorary Spike for its “commitment to cinema and to Seminci”, for “its invaluable dissemination and archiving work” and to mark the 20th anniversary of the programme, as the presenter of the ceremony, Eva Marciel, explained. Najwa Nimri came up onto the stage to the sound of the popular theme tune from the programme, alongside director Julio Medem, who acted as a representative of Spanish film for the time required to award the prize to ‘Versión Española’ “on behalf of all of its godchildren”.

‘Versión Española’

 “Thanks to Julio for being with us from the very first programme to the present day, to Najwa for singing to us for so many years and to Seminci for believing that our work deserves this prestigious award”, said Cayetana Guillén Cuervo, on behalf of the whole team, who accompanied her on stage. Guillén Cuervo, who has presented the programme for the last twenty years, also thanked TVE for “protecting the programme for so long and for maintaining that little corner of culture that Spain so badly needs”. “For us, it has become a way of life, a way of educating people to watch Spanish cinema. For everyone to know who we are”.

Numerous colleagues including Arturo Valls, Raúl Arévalo, Manolo Solo, the team of the film ‘Jaulas’ by Nicolás Pacheco, and producer Carmen Martínez accompanied the prizewinners.

Spanish cinema without prejudice

At a press conference before the Gala, Javier Angulo, surrounded by the prizewinners, explained that he had been wanting to bring them all together for years, and that the 20th anniversary of ‘Versión Española’ had made that possible.

“The 20th anniversary of ‘Versión Española’ is also the 20th anniversary of the other Spikes”, pointed out Guillén Cuervo, with regard to her colleagues. “The person responsible for all of this was Paz Sufrategui, deputy director of ‘Versión Española’, who told me that it was their 20th anniversary in January this year. There was no way of getting hold of Eduard Fernández, and Icíar and Bayona were filming around the world. Suddenly everything came together and now they’re here today”, Angulo explained.

In the last two decades, Spanish cinema has moved closer “to its audience via the small screen with the ‘Versión Española’ programme” and with the “work of film schools and festivals”; “the work of Spanish directors has been recognised internationally” and “new viewers are no longer prejudiced against Spanish cinema”, the prizewinners commented.

“’Versión Española’ has been a school which has shown how to bring Spanish cinema closer to people. We feel that we’ve made a contribution to enhancing the reputation of Spanish cinema and to helping it to be understood beyond our borders”, said Guillén Cuervo.

The programme has also helped it to be understood within the country. “A teacher told me years ago that there was nothing we could do to improve the negative perceptions held by viewers. We set to work, and the new generation of viewers doesn’t hold the same prejudices about Spanish cinema”, explained Bayona. Meanwhile, Eduard Fernández said: “I don’t know if there’s less prejudice than before, but what there is now are more different types of cinema than before, and the quality of Spanish technical aspects is recognised around the world”. Bollaín agreed with this idea. “Spanish cinema is very varied, and that’s how it is viewed abroad”.

Posted in 63rd Seminci.