For the first time, a Spaniard wins Cannes Short Film award

Juanjo Giménez earns Palme d’Or for ‘Timecode,’ a thriller about two parking lot security guards played by dancers

'Timecode' by Juanjo Giménez.
Gregorio Belinchón

Juanjo Giménez has become the first Spaniard to win the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in the Short Film category.

The Barcelona native earned the prestigious Palme d’Or for Timecode, which beat out nine runners-up from an original pool of 5,008 candidates.

In his acceptance speech, Giménez, 51, remembered the only other Spaniard to have won a Palme d’Or: Luis Buñuel for his 1961 feature-length Viridiana.

I like to introduce certain situations in the wrong place, to shock the audience Juanjo Giménez, film director

Later, at a winner’s press conference, Giménez made an impassioned defense of short film.

“You can make a career in film without making feature films. My next project will be another short film because shorts are the present and the future,” he stated. “I am always surprised by the fact that when film buffs are asked about their favorite movies, nobody remembers the shorts. To me, for instance, La jetée is one of the best titles in movie history.”

Asked whether this prize will change his future plans, Giménez was adamant: “I don’t expect anything from life, so I just live and film.”

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Despite a long career as a filmmaker and producer, Giménez has only directed one feature-length film, Tilt (2001), and has no plans to pursue that line of work. His first short, Hora de cerrar (or Closing time), dates back to 1994.

He says he doesn’t know why his work has been picked out at Cannes.

“I have no idea. I like to explore worlds that are very unfamiliar to me, like the time I made a documentary about boxing, Esquivar y pegar [or, Dodge and hit]. In Timecode I explored dance.”

The film plays with the mystery and beauty of a relationship between two parking lot security guards, played by the real-life dancers Lali Ayguadé and Nicolas Ricchini.

“I watched a TV show about dance and I got in touch with them,” says Giménez. “Perhaps the fact that it plays with the thriller genre, and that some people even think it’s a zombie movie, helped with its selection. I also like to introduce certain situations in the wrong place, to shock the audience.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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