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It’s Goya time

This year’s Spanish Film Academy awards gala brings competing international, national, and arty interests into play, with 'Blancanieves', a silent telling of the Snow White tale, leading the pack.


Maribel Verdú in 'Blancanieves'.

A silent winner? Maribel Verdú in ‘Blancanieves’.

Perhaps fearful of another black-and-white silent film garnering a top prize for the second year running, Hollywood excluded Blancanieves from the Best Foreign Film category, but Pablo Berger’s overly long 1920s-set bullfighting take on the Snow White tale looks set to sweep the board at this year’s Goya Awards on February 17 in the Spanish capital.

The film has been nominated in 18 categories, including picture, director, original screenplay, and editing. Six members of the cast are also in the running for prizes, including leads Maribel Verdú and Daniel Giménez Cacho, as well as newcomer Macarena García for her winsome portrayal of Snow White.

Unit 7, from director Alberto Rodríguez, has 16 nominations. Set in Seville in the run-up to the 1992 Exposition, it starts out as an all-too-believable account of corrupt cops given carte blanche to rid the centre of the city of junkies and then turns into a standard-fare revenge-fest.

Juan Antonio Bayona’s Spanish-produced, English-language epic The Impossible — one of the biggest box office hits in Spain, having taken €42 million so far — is in 14 categories, including picture, director, actress for Naomi Watts, and supporting actor for Ewan McGregor.

Watts and McGregor have been allowed to compete thanks to a change in the Spanish Academy’s rules that allows non-Spanish speaking actors who participate in Spanish productions to compete for acting honours. The film tells the real-life story of how a wealthy family — in real life Spanish, but made English for the international market — holidaying in Thailand survive the 2004 tsunami. Few surprises but great special effects.

Fernando Trueba’s black-and-white, French-language, The Artist and the Model is in the running with 13 nominations in all the main categories. The film, set in German-occupied France, and inspired by the life of French Catalan sculptor Aristide Maillol, hasn’t been given much of a screening in Spain.

Penélope Cruz, mercifully absent from cinema screens for the last couple of years after having a baby, is in the running for best actress in the dire Twice Born, which does for the Balkan wars of the 1990s what Life is Beautiful did for our understanding of the Nazi death camps.

As well as Blancanieves‘s Daniel Gimenez-Cacho, The Artist and the Model‘s Jean Rochefort, Unit 7’s Antonio de la Torre, veteran actor Jose Sacristán from The Dead Man and Being Happy is competing for the lead actor statue.

The Spanish Film Academy is famous for its Byzantine intrigues, with different regional groups and other collectives scheming up to the last minute, trading off votes as they all pursue their respective interests.

There are plenty of competing interests that the Spanish film industry would like to see balanced: awards for The Impossible would attract overseas attention and give a boost to international co-productions; at the same time, Berger’s Blancanieves has obviously won huge sympathy, and is undoubtedly a very “Spanish” project. Unit 7 may lose out on the prestige prizes, while it’s hard to see where The Artist and the Model can do well. How about betting on Jean Rochefort for a surprise best actor award?

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Published: Feb 14 2013
Category: Culture, Featured, Films, Spain News
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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1 Comment for “It’s Goya time”

  1. Completely agree that Blancanieves is overlong and – dare I say it? – possibly a little over-rated as well..? Would love to see The Artist and the Model win something and hope desperately that the Spanish Academy give Pe and Twice Born a very wide berth!

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