Once again we’ve suddenly become embroiled in the annual maelstrom of cinema awards ceremonies, only this year they come seasoned with the inevitable PCR test and the fateful healthcare service to the rescue.
The Forqué awards kicked the season off in January, and my word but it feels like January was ages ago! They organized an in-person, classic gala, just like the old times and “The Girls” by Pilar Palomero began a triumphant run, and it’s worth remembering that, before winning the Biznaga in Málaga, this movie opened the proceedings at the Berlinale, at a time when jetting around the world was still something we’d do at the drop of a hat. The movie’s producer, Valérie Delpierre, has become the dignified and elegant appointee, both in attire and speech, who collects the latest award.
One name, that of Patricia López Arnaiz, protagonist of “Ane Is Missing”, began to make headlines and appear in the roll call at every ceremony, an actress who, in her late thirties, is only now reaping the fruits of her years of preparation. Her first award was that presented by radio’s quintessential cultural standard bearer “El Ojo Critico”, and therein begins her journey on the wheel of fortune. We’ve seen her in Amenabar’s “While At War”, playing Unamuno’s sister, and in “One For All” in the role of a teacher who enamors David Verdaguer, but her performance in “Ane Is Missing”, as a mother who discovers that she doesn’t know her daughter, is the watershed moment.
With few exceptions, where the grace and talent of Javier Cámara prevailed, the man of the moment, at least in terms of accolades, is Mario Casas. Having racked up prize after prize, inebriated from the honors that had eluded him for some time, and which might have arrived before now with “The Photographer of Mauthausen”, Mario has had to overcome many prejudices. Even critics have surrendered at his feet, the Sant Jordi and the Feroz have fallen, this time clouded in controversy around Victoria Abril and her negationist theories, and our handsome beau finally got his Goya, although given the year that’s in it, he wasn’t able to pick it up until several days after the actual ceremony. And yes, that brings us to the Goyas, the kingdom of Antonio Banderas who fulfilled his dream to host the ceremony in his native Malaga at his Soho theater. The most universal Malagueño since Picasso, with all the airs and graces of Hollywood, he summoned his cohorts and in a game of panels, officiated the affair with admirable ceremony. But the show-stealing moment that’ll go down in history was delivered by Angela Molina, every inch the lady of the house. And what better way of expressing her gratitude for the award than remind us all, as she did, that in cinema, as in life, we are nobody without others. Plus, everything about Molina oozes authenticity. I can still recall her acceptance speech when we presented her online with the 2020 Honorary Sant Jordi award, surrounded by the natural beauty of her island in Ibiza, pure elegance.
The next stop on the award-circle route was the Gaudí’s celebrated two weeks ago. Although “The Girls” once again prevailed, along with the exquisite “My Mexican Bretzel” by Nuria Giménez Lorang taking home three statuettes on the night, the evening’s bill of fare featured few meaty dishes from Catalan cinema. The spirit from the crew behind “Les dues nits d’ahir” commanded sufficient muster to take the audience award, quite a feat for a film that has just recently been released. Luckily, we had “The Barcelona Vampiress”, whose producer Raimon Masllorens was on hand to collect the Gaudí for Best Picture in Catalan language to remind us that there wasn’t even a trace of this worthy feature from Lluís Danés at the other awards ceremonies, despite its exceptional artistic legacy and a star-studded cast we can be proud of, featuring performances from actors that make you shine on the red carpet. Catalan Film Academy president Isona Passola can certainly walk away with her head held high, after insisting, with her characteristic perseverance, that politicians jump on board, grab an oar, and help with the rowing by injecting money into Catalan cinema, even though the prospects aren’t great. Given the circumstances, in a year that no one denies is an uphill climb, the incoming candidate to preside over the Academy would do well to unlock the door that leads to a reflection on Catalan cinema. What are we? And where do we want to go? Two questions that demand an urgent response if we truly wish to move forward.
In what is proving to be an unusually inclement spring, where each successive news story topples the preceding one for surprise factor, the Sant Jordi Film Awards endorsed by RNE will celebrate their 65th edition on April 19, a combative and trooper among awards like few others with some Catalan critics capable of presenting the Best Spanish Film award to the Luis López Carrasco documentary, “The Year of the Discovery”, and what a discovery this film that appeals to double standards has been. Close on its heels a few days later on April 25, we have the eagerly-awaited, although some folk find them odious, Oscars® to bring down the curtain on the awards season and the industry’s crème de la crème. This year’s Academy Awards are definitively set to open the floodgates to female talent, who can once again make history, and to African-Americans in the United States, who have waited patiently in the wings far too long. Not long to wait for this year’s edition and to discover whether David Fincher’s “Mank“, encrusted with Hollywood legend, will prove too great an opponent for the gentle and compassionate “Nomadland“, the brilliant docu-fiction from Chloé Zhao, Golden Lion in Venice, with a formidable Frances McDormand, a truly Cohen Brothers actress, in what may be the best performance in her career so far from an actress who never ceases to amaze us.