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‘Saturn Return,’ ‘Radical,’ ‘Little Loves’ Top Spain’s Malaga Festival

MALAGA — Isaki Lacuesta’s “Saturn Return” (“Segundo Premio”), always a frontrunner, topped this week’s Malaga Festival winning its best picture, director (with co-director Pol Rodríguez) and editing (Javi Frutos) awards.

The triple plaudit delivers further recognition for a feature which pulls off the double achievement of being formally inventive and great fun at one and the same time.

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Turning on Spanish indie rock group Los Planetas storied attempts to making their third and finally iconic album, but really about people’s need to recast the past as comprehensible narrative and a biopic parody, A broad audience play, “Saturn Return” has been hailed by Spanish newspaper El Mundo as a “masterpiece.”

“Saturn Returns” will do nothing to dent Lacuesta’s status as seemingly suddenly, after years in the wilderness as a supposedly radical filmmaker too out there to take on more ambitious budgets. Lacuesta’s feel-good concluding episode to “Offworld,,” and a great flamenco project and “The Chauffeur’s Son,” a political parable thriller series set up at Zeta Studios, should help reposition Lacuesta as one of Spain’s most versatile film-TV directors.

Playing Sundance, where it was judged a “conventional tearjerker about an inspiring teacher” which “benefits from a terrific ensemble,” Christopher Zalla’s “Radical” walked off with Malaga’s Golden Biznaga for best Ibero-American picture.

Celia Rico’s “Little Loves” (“Los pequeños amores”) took the Special Jury Award, the other big prize at the festival.

Produced by Arcadia Motion Pictures, on fire after backing Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s “The Beasts,” Oscar-nominated animated feature “Robot Dreams” and Netflix hit “Burning Body,” “Little Loves” sees Rico return to a daughter-mother relationship of “Journey to My Mother’s Room.” This time round, however, the plot driver is the sudden dependence of a a redoubtable mother, portrayed by Adriana Ozores, who won the best supporting actress award.

Making good on the promise he showed in “Lucas,” Álex Montoya’s notably stylish and moving family drama “La Casa,” which reduced at least one festival audience to tears, won screenplay, score and the festival’s Audience Award as well as reaping great reviews.

Near sweeping top awards with “Saturn Return,” “Little Loves” and “La Casa” and sparking large sales interest on all three titles, Latido Films must look vindicated in its strategic decision of dropping three significant plays at Málaga, rather than waiting for Cannes, Locarno or a fall fest.

“We really had a strategy and the producers agreed. We are really happy for them as Malaga proved in the last year to be a really good launch pad also for the Goyas,” Latido Films Antonio Saura told Variety. “Now we will go to Cannes to present already positioned films as opposed to going with nothing to help them compete.”

Of other awards, several stand out: Argentina’s Joaquín Furriel and Spain’s Luis Zahera – two actors who have delivered superb performances (Think Furriel in “The Bronze Garden” and Zahera in “The Beasts”) but could be better known abroad – sharing best actor for Sebastián Borensztein’s “Rest in Peace” and Pau Durà’s “Pájaros.”

Of more women directors, Basque Andrea Jaurrieta’s “Nina,” a multi-genre bending revenge thriller and also Western and melodrama “Nina” took the Critics Award.

Fresh from the Berlin Forum, Macu Machín’s “Undergrowth” (“La Hojaresca”), one of the standard bearers of a suddenly burgeoning Canary Islands cinema, scooped Best Spanish Picture and director in Malaga’s Zonazine, reserved for edgier and sometimes smaller works. That bodes very well indeed for the Basque Country and Canary Islands as both seek to broaden their talent pool.

Of other prizes, Gabriel Goity won supporting actor for Borensztein’s Netflix Argentine suspense drama – one of the biggest Latin American titles at Malaga – about a man who fakes his death to escape from a mountain of debt.

Cuban thesp Lola Amores was honored as best actress for her role as a desperate woman on the run in Havana in Alán González’s “Wild Woman.” Cinematography kudos went to Juan Carlos Martínez for “Golán.”

MALAGA FILM FESTIVAL: THE WINNERS

Golden Biznaga, Spanish Picture

“Saturn Return” (Isaki Lacuesta, Pol Rodríguez)

Golden Biznaga, Latin American Picture

“Radical” (Christopher Zalla)

Silver Biznaga, Special Jury Prize

“Little Loves” (Celia Rico)

Silver Biznaga, Director

Isaki Lacuesta, Pol Rodríguez (“Saturn Return”)

Silver Biznaga ‘Hotel AC Palace,’ Best Actress

Lola Amores (“Wild Woman”)

Silver Biznaga, Best Actor

Luis Zahera (“Pájaros”)

Joaquín Furriel (“Rest in Peace”)

Silver Biznaga, Supporting Actress

Adriana Ozores (“Little Loves”)

Silver Biznaga, Supporting Actor

Gabriel Goity (“Rest in Peace”)

Original Screenplay

Álex Montoya, Joana M. Ortueta (“La Casa”)

Silver Biznaga, Original Score

Fernando Velázquez (“La Casa”)

Silver Biznaga, Cinematography

Juan Carlos Martínez (“Golán”)

Silver Biznaga, Editing

Javi Frutos (“Saturn Return”)

Silver Biznaga, Critics Award

“Nina” (Andrea Jaurrieta)

Silver Biznaga, Audience Award

“La Casa” (Álex Montoya)

ZONAZINE AWARDS

Silver Biznaga, Best Spanish Picture

“La Hojarasca” (Macu Machín)

Silver Biznaga, Best Ibero-American Picture

“Los Tonos Mayores” (Ingrid Pokropek)

Silver Biznaga, Best Director

Macu Machín (“La Hojarasca”)

Silver Biznaga, Best Actress

Sofía Clausen (“Los Tonos Mayores”)

Silver Biznaga, Best Actor

Diego Solís (“Lumbresueño”)

Silver Biznaga, Audience Award

“Orgullo Vieja” (Chema Rodríguez)

DOCUMENTARY AWARDS

Silver Biznaga, Documentary Feature

“Salvaxe, Salvaxe” (Emilio Fonseca)

Special Mention

“Hasta Que Se Apague El Sol” (Jonas Brander)

Silver Biznaga, Best Documentary Direction

Carlos Essmann (“Artefacto 71”)

Jonas Brander (“Hasta Que Se Apague El Sol”)

Special Mention

Lucija Stojevic (“Pepi Fandango”)

MOSAICO PANORAMA INTERNATIONAL

Silver Biznaga, Audience Award

“Stella. A Life” (Kilian Riedhof)

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