23/10/2019.- Three representatives of the cinema world who were awarded the Spike of Honour — casting director Luis San Narciso, actress Najwa Nimri, and filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar — stepped onto the stage of the Calderón Theatre during the Spanish Cinema Gala of the 64th Valladolid International Film Festival, Seminci.
The first one to come on stage to collect Seminci’s most prestigious award was Luis San Narciso, or «Saint Luis», according to Clara Lago, who handed him the award. «I will be eternally grateful to him. He is one of the people who helped me reach the incredibly privileged position I find myself in today», said the actress. Lago also praised San Narciso’s «humanity», and said that «when he fights for someone, he fights with tooth and nail». Paz Vega and Belén Rueda made a video appearance on the Calderón Theatre screen to congratulate the casting director: «I think you have made all your professional dreams come true, and while I was making mine come true you were right by my side», said Rueda. San Narciso dedicated the Spike of Honour to these three actresses and many others: «I want to thank all the actors and actresses I have worked with for respecting me and for our mutual understanding over the years».
Filmmaker Carlos Vermut also made a video appearance to speak about Najwa Nimri: «She’s one of those people who make life interesting», he said. «She has a unique talent, she’s unlike any other actress I have ever met», added filmmaker Julio Medem, who attended the gala at the Calderón Theater. «I am grateful for this award because it is a reward for all these working years — I finally know I’m part of a group of people, part of this industry, and that makes me very happy», said Nimri. She also said that «cinema means vowing eternal love, it is the only thing that can make time stop». Belén Rueda made a second video appearance in order to congratulate Alejandro Amenábar, who was accompanied by Fernando Bovaira, who produces all of Amenábar’s films, actress Ana Torrent, the protagonist of his directorial debut Tesis, and Karra Elejalde, who plays the role of Miguel de Unamuno in Amenábar’s latest film, Mientras dure la guerra. Rueda said that «one of his greatest achievements is making everyone love him». And Elejalde said «his talent and character are above average».
«While most directors speak in terms of verbs, he speaks in terms of adjectives», he said, «so I hope for every single actor and actress to be lucky enough to work with him, because he will make you better performers». Holding his Spike, Amenábar said: «I am very grateful for this recognition, because it is a sign that you understand me in these times when nobody seems to understand anyone else».
The fourth Spike of Honour of the evening was awarded to the radio programme El séptimo vicio, broadcast by Radio 3, Radio Nacional de España (RNE) (National Radio of Spain), which started in Seminci 20 years ago. The award was given to its director, Javier Tolentino, El Niño de Elche and filmmaker Arancha Aguirre, who said that «there is a way that films get destroyed, and that is silence; when silence is thick enough, films cease to exist. So thank you, Tolentino, for not letting that happen and giving so many of us filmmakers a voice we didn’t have before». When he received the award, the radio journalist urged people to «not only champion independent films from our seats, but also independent radios».
The 64th Seminci also honoured Pedro Olea, who won his first award ever at our festival 50 years ago for The Ancines Woods. The festival’s award was still the San Gregorio back then. This time, it was Valladolid-born actress Concha Velasco («I am very excited about my city, my festival, giving him this award») that gave him one of the festival’s current awards, the Lark. With it, Olea celebrates the «golden wedding anniversary» of the «love affair», as he defined it, he has with Valladolid, where he completed his elementary education. «I hope I will keep coming back, because I feel at home», he said.
Before the gala, the winners held a meeting with the media. The first one to speak was, once more, San Narciso. «I am very happy to receive this award, especially because I am given it alongside two people who have greatly impacted my career — Alejandro Amenábar, my best professional experience, and Najwa Nimri, my greatest discovery», he said. Regarding the praise his work has received («he is our country’s most important casting director, the one who is in the kitchen, behind Spanish cinema’s scenes, stirring talent», said festival director Javier Angulo), San Narciso said that, despite changes in the film industry due to the emergence of new platforms and audio-visual projects, «the bare essentials are still talent, truth, and emotion». «What I’m always looking for is someone who caresses my skin, it’s as simple and as hard as that», he said.
«The most special actress, the one who can afford to do anything». This is how festival director Javier Angulo defined Najwa Nimri, who said she was «elated» about receiving the Spike of Honour. The Pamplona-born actress told the media how she prepares for each role: «To the point of exhaustion, because after understanding it with my head, I need to understand it with my body». This was also true of Zulema’s character in Vis a Vis, which made her «connect with the general public». «It’s not like I was dead, but I feel like I have come back to life with this global TV», she admitted.
With only seven films («all of which are magnificent productions directed by a brave filmmaker», according to Angulo), Alejandro Amenábar is one of Spain’s most relevant directors. The Chilean-born filmmaker talked about his latest film, Mientras dure la guerra: «I thought that neither my films nor my own life had anything to do with politics, but that’s not true. My family went on a return trip marked by two coup d’etats, the one in Spain and the one in Chile». Amenábar also said that «cinema is a team effort — being an orchestra conductor is lovely, but so is being first violinist».