This year, more than ever, it was possible to wonder if the founders of the Sant Jordi Awards, Jordi Torras and Esteve Bassols, who had the brilliant idea of combining cinema and radio, could ever have imagined that we would go so far. Maintaining the Sant Jordi Awards is no easy affair. Sixty-five years marking the history of cinema is sufficient endorsement, but each year means a gargantuan effort on the part of a stellar team and even more so this year, under the conditions imposed by health protocols.
Marc Sala and Laura Mesa assumed the role of event hosts, with prior PCR tests from all of us who took the stage, and we celebrated them at the Verdi cinema in Gracia, the theater where I used to go as a child with my grandmother, making the affair doubly emotional at a time when theaters are jumping head over heels to remain afloat. Taking advantage of his presence at the Barcelona Film Fest, Johnny Depp was honored with a Sant Jordi for his exceptional career, thanks in large part to Tim Burton, and the French film diva Isabelle Huppert, with a special Sant Jordi to settle a long-standing debt, the one she won in nineteen ninety for “Story of Woman” by his beloved Claude Chabrol and was never able to come and collect it. Two movie greats to add to the legend, like Jeremy Irons did a couple of years ago.
In this edition of the Awards RNE held in Catalonia against all odds, critics were keen to highlight the excellent health of the documentary by honoring Luis López Carrasco’s “The Year of Discovery” as the best Spanish film, which made the trip only for a few hours because the next day he had to get back to give class. An exceptional testimony of a country and a people in 1992, where the euphoria of our Olympics contrasted with the labor problems he exposes and centralizes in Cartagena.
Very excited, the Barcelona-born Nuria Giménez Lorang, director of “My Mexican Bretzel” –best debut feature, another excellent documentary– played at home and was accompanied by her mother. In fact, she used home movies of the family, of the grandparents, to invent a story and a character that she has surprised in an overflowing exercise of imagination. And the actress of the moment, Patricia López Arnaiz was reunited with Valérie Delpierre.
To deliver the Rose of Sant Jordi that the listeners of Ràdio 4 decided was for “Rosa’s Wedding” by Icíar Bollaín, we couldn’t think of anyone better than a much-loved Jordi, Jordi Sánchez, and we all celebrated, with warm applause, the reappearance of the Catalan actor after many days in which health issues have had us all very concerned. One of destiny’s twists of fate meant that screenwriter Alicia Luna was selected to pick it up, one of the women who most ardently promotes our cinema with such determination. An emotional appearance in which she recalled the times when she was Alta Films’ press officer.
As Mario Casas was unable to travel for the event, the star of the night was Santiago Segura, deserving of the Industry Award given that he has carried the load more than ever on this occasion with the energy of “Father, There is Only One 2”, daring to premiere in the middle of the pandemic and saving the furniture of much-battered Spanish cinema for another year running. Ingenious as always, and in between laughs and smiles, he was also the protagonist of another memorable on the night in dialogue with Loles León, his mother-in-law in the film, who presented him with the award. The Barceloneta actress was delighted because she was finally making her debut at the Sant Jordi. Like Ruth Gabriel and Antonio Saura, who traveled from Madrid and had never collected an award as a couple. Those who have so many international contacts took charge of presenting the statuette which was awarded to the extraordinary Polish film “Corpus Christi” as the best foreign film, an overwhelming reflection on faith and religion.
Even the Oscar-winning Olivia Colman sent us a message of thanks, along with her director Florian Zeller, for the Sant Jordi Rose for “The Father” which had already picked up the Audience Award by sweeping the last San Sebastian Festival. From Chile, Mariana di Girolamo, an actress who loves Barcelona, thanked the Jury for acknowledging her splendid work in Pablo Larraín’s reggaeton film “Ema”, which calls into question motherhood and new family structures. And it was remembered that Luca Marinelli was the best for the wonderful “Martin Eden” where he gives life to a guy who, through culture, finds a means to position himself socially and as a writer. With Vicky Peña, the emotion of a lifetime achievement award returned with which, as Santiago Segura rightly said, we saw life pass by in a breath, reviewing images of “Secretos del corazón”, “La buena vida”, “La casa de Bernarda Alba “, films by Jaime Camino and Vicente Aranda. Capable of giving life in equal measures of success to Carmen Polo and La Rodoreda, Carulla’s daughter, with that characteristic humility that makes her great, received the Honor from her partner of so many years, the invaluable Mario Gas, to whom she dedicated her beautiful words, and to her friend Carme Elías, who with her presence makes any award more distinguished.
The moment of recalling our fallen heroes led us to remember fondly those who have left us, like Paco Betriu.
The music, very fresh, was provided by Miki Nuñez with his always friendly approach, and the brand-new Suu. Some new faces among the awards’ presenters included Quim Avila, who makes his debut as the protagonist in Colomo’s “Poliamor para principiantes” and who has also filmed “Girasoles Salvares” with Jaime Rosales from Barcelona.
While the reduced capacity crowd wondered where they could recover those great films that had escaped them, Santiago Segura continued delivering selfies, a feature that was especially popular on a night that couldn’t break the curfew, but that will be framed within the history of a Sant Jordi awards ceremony still highly sought-after and which this year, drew their sword and lance to challenge the dragon of COVID and won.