'Los Pasos Dobles' wins San Sebastián's Golden Shell

"Faction" movie about artist's bunker artwork in the Sahara brings first Spanish victory at festival in almost a decade

The 59th edition of the San Sebastián International Film Festival wrapped up its closing gala and award presentation on Saturday with Isaki Lacuesta's Los Pasos Dobles (The Double Steps) nabbing the Golden Shell for Best Film - the first for a Spanish movie since Fernando León's Los lunes al sol (Mondays in the Sun) in 2002.

A fictional documentary based on the life of French artist and author François Augiéras, who painted the walls of a military bunker before letting it sink into the sand in the hopes that nobody would find it until the 21st century , Los Pasos Dobles is the fifth film by the young Catalan director, and firmly establishes him as one of the most interesting and unusual voices on the Spanish film scene today. The movie follows Lacuesta's Cravan vs. Cravan (2002), The Legend of Time (2006), The Damned (2009) - which won the Fipresci prize at San Sebastián two years ago - and All Night Long (2010). In his acceptance speech, the director noted that the prize was a breath of life "for small films."

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Spanish actress María León won the Silver Shell for Best Actress on Saturday for her debut performance in Benito Zambrano's La Voz Dormida (The Sleeping Voice). Zambrano is the award-winning director of the 1990 Spanish film Solas (Alone).

Providing one of the evening's more poignant moments, a tearful León thanked her family, and said that she had felt like a princess just twice in her life - once on her first communion, and the second time in San Sebastián on Saturday night.

Other winners included Greece's Adikos Kosmos (Unfair World) by director Filippos Tsitos, who took home the Silver Shell for Best Director, while the film's star Antonis Kafetzopoulos was awarded the Silver Shell for Best Actor.

Chaired by Fargo 's Frances McDormand and including Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia, the jury gave its special prize to French actress Julie Delpy for her comedy Le Skylab , a tribute to her late mother and Delpy's fourth film as director.

The final Official Selection prizes were awarded to Sweden's Ulf Brantas for Best Cinematography in Happy End, and Japan's Hirokazu Kore-eda for Best Screenplay in Kiseki (I wish), which focuses on the 2011 tsunami in that country and had been a favorite for Best Film in the run-up to the festival.

Perhaps in an attempt to justify Los Pasos Dobles' surprise win, Isaki Lacuesta said: "If tomorrow you read that my film is unintelligible, it is not true. Trust in its sensitivity, trust in this marvelous jury."

The director Isaki Lacuesta, presenting Los pasos dobles in San Sebastián.
The director Isaki Lacuesta, presenting Los pasos dobles in San Sebastián.VINCENT WEST (REUTERS)
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