Gaudí Awards honour top Catalan films in midst of broadcaster strike

(Aquest article va ser publicat a la Catalan News Agency)

Robert Boucaut / Victòria Oliveres

Barcelona (CNA).- The 6th Annual Gaudí Awards took place on Sunday evening at the Barcelona Teatre Musical Theatre to celebrate Catalonia’s growing film industry. The apocalyptic blockbuster Los Últimos Días (‘The Last Days’) and the intense Catalan quasi-documentary La Plaga (‘The Plague’) were the biggest winners of the night, with a ceremony providing many commentaries on the state of Catalan film and the recent strikes at the Catalan Public Television Broadcaster (known as TV3). The ceremony was scheduled to be broadcast live on the Catalan television network including the first live broadcast of the red carpet arrivals to showcase Catalan fashion, but due to a workers strike at the weekend the ceremony was shown on local public stations. Contemporary drama Tots Volem el Millor per a Ella (‘Puzzlement’) was also recognised in the gala, picking up both Best Leading Actress for Nora Navas and Best Supporting Actress for Clara Segura, while big nominees Fill de Cain (‘Son of Cain’) andGrand Piano went home empty-handed.

Catalan-speaking realist drama La Plaga and Spanish-speaking disaster epic LosÚltimos Días were the most celebrated films of the evening, picking up Best Movie in Catalan Language and Best Movie in Non-Catalan Language respectively. Tots Volem el Millor per a Ella took both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for Nora Navas and Clara Segura, with both Best Picture winners failing to receive acting nominations (La Plaga was ineligible given it featured real-life subjects).

First-time feature director Neus Ballús also received Best Director, Best Editor and Best Screenplay. On accepting the awards, Ballús commented the misconception that documentaries should not be eligible for screenplay prizes and that their five-year project required constant reworking and dedication. Ballús and writing/producing partner Pau Subirats gave some of the more hard-hitting speeches of the night and declared that while their film receives all of this recognition the crisis its subjects are facing are still struggling.

The cast and directing team of Los Últimos Dias were not present to accept their seven awards (from eleven nominations), most of which were technical prizes such as Best Digital Effects. The popular blockbuster envisioned Barcelona as an apocalyptic landscape in the wake of a pandemic, the designers saying they pictured “a city free of pollution and tourists.”

The Best Actor prize was accepted by José Sacristán for El Muerto y Ser Feliz(‘The Dead and Be Happy’). In his acceptance speech he offered a Spanish perspective on the relationships between Catalan and Spanish cinema industries. As a founding member of the Spanish Film Academy, he emphasised the need for both academies to be united and supportive. The Best Supporting Actor was won by the absent Ramon Maduala for La Por (‘The Fear’). Actress Julieta Serrano was honoured for her legacy to cinema with the Gaudí D´Honor honorary award.

The Gaudí awards also celebrate the wider community of European films, acknowledging such works as Michael Haneke’s Oscar winning Amour. Món Petit(‘A Small World’), a small work about a disabled boy’s solo travels around the world, took Best Documentary.

This year’s broadcast was not only celebrating the great film talents of Catalonia, but also its fashion. Coinciding with the end of the 080 Barcelona Fashion Week, many of Catalonia’s esteemed designers showcased their pieces on key film personalities.

Controversy Behind the Scenes

The President of the Catalan Film Academy, prolific producer Isona Passola, gave a passionate speech about the state of Catalan cinema providing one of the more controversial moments of the evening. She criticised the Spanish Government for failing to commit to building and nurturing a strong film industry in recent years, particularly in the face of threats from economic pressures and huge piracy rates. She defended the recently-announced controversial taxes on phone companies to fund local productions, and commented on Catalonia’s recent recognition among the European Cinema Academy circuit as an independent film market. She also had strong words to say about the TV3 strike. She lamented that these colleagues may not have intentionally aimed to hurt the Gaudí Awards but they have done so nevertheless.

Prior to the ceremony, demonstrators supporting TV3 workers and fellow protesters firemen rallied close to the red carpet. They were striking after months of collective bargaining with their bosses, after failing to reach an agreement over salaries and working conditions. The broadcasting rights were redistributed and the strike forced the Academy to shift the broadcast of the event through agreements with various local public broadcasters within just 48 hours.

Future Plans from the Stars

Big winner Neus Ballús told reporters of her future plans to make another documentary in Senegal, but we will not see any end product for some time due to the exhaustive planning stages for such productions. Young director Dani de la Orden, with his prize winning composer Joan Dausà, spoke of an idea for a sequel to their Best Picture nominated Barcelona, Nit d’Estiu (“Summer Night in Barcelona”), perhapscontinuing the story into a Barcelona winter. A pregnant Clara Segura told CNA of her plans to rest for a short period before returning to her acclaimed theatre projects.

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