THE MOVIE As Bestas (The Beasts) was the big winner at the 37th Goya Awards, which took place on Saturday night in the Andalusian city of Seville.
The film, which follows a middle-aged French couple who encounter shocking violence from locals after moving to a village in Galicia to be close to nature, won nine of the 17 categories for which it had been nominated. These included Best Film, Best Director for Rodrigo Sorogoyen, and Best Actor for Denis Menochet.
The plot of As Bestas is based on a true story: that of Dutch national Martin Verfondern, who was murdered by a neighbour in the northwestern Spanish region after a series of disputes.
Modelo 77 (Prison 77) was the big runner up, a movie set during Spain’s Transition to democracy in the late 1970s, and that tells the story of inmates who have been incarcerated for common charges but never got the chance for an amnesty as political prisoners did.
That production took five Goyas, mostly in the technical categories.
And then came Cinco Lobitos (Lullaby), a story about motherhood. That film won three awards: Best Actress for Laia Costa, Best Supporting Actress for Susi Sanchez, and Best New Director for Alauda Ruiz de Azua.
The glamorous event was not only attended by the stars of Spanish cinema, but also politicians.
Presenters Clara Lago and Antonio de la Torre used their platform to launch a few barbs at the lawmakers, who included Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, drawing attention in particular to Spain’s struggling hospitals and doctors surgeries.
Their comments came on the eve of a major protest planned in Madrid today, Sunday, in defence of the public healthcare system.
Another major protagonist of the evening, albeit posthumously, was director Carlos Saura, who died on Thursday aged 91 before he could receive his honorary Goya award for his life in cinema.
Saura’s career stretched over more than half a century, and he won a series of awards – both domestically and internationally – for works such as Cousin Angelica, Cria Cuervos and Mama Turns 100.
‘He was just a day shy of enjoying his honorary Goya,’ said Lago. ‘His contribution was such that we would need 100 ceremonies like this one to honour his legacy.’
Saula’s widow, Eulalia Ramón, read a note left by Saura before he passed away.
‘Thank you to all of those who have thought of me,’ her late husband wrote. ‘I’ve been very lucky making more than 50 films, exceeding the limits that I proposed to myself as a young man. Many thanks to all of those who have worked with me during the wonderful job that making a movie is, in particular my favourite actresses and actors, some of whom are no longer with us.’
After the event, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of the Socialist Party published a tweet congratulating all of the nominees and winners, adding: ‘If there is something that unites us it is culture.’
The leader of the main opposition Popular Party, meanwhile, was also at the event. Alberto Nuñez Feijoo said it was ‘a pleasure’ to be in attendance ‘supporting culture’.