Goyas Awards 2003
- The night the Spanish film awards turned into an anti-war protest. The night glamour met social commitment.
United Against War
Be sure and see our video interview with Aitana Sánchez-Gijón
It’s not often that you see a major awards ceremony - an emotional event that is a triumph of sincerity and gratitude like the 17th Goya Awards in Spain (broadcast live on TVE1) become a full-blown political controversy.
The protagonists of Spanish cinema revealed all their innermost feelings to the millions of viewers who tuned in at prime time,many of whom share the hopes and aspirations of their favourite film stars.
Marisa Parades, the president of the Spanish Academy of Film and Audiovisual Arts, sleek and elegant in an emerald gown by Sybilla, welcomed the guests by saying that this was an evening of freedom, an evening for Spanish cinema to congratulate itself: the Goyas. “We must not fear culture and entertainment, nor freedom of expression, and least of all, we must not be afraid of satire and humour. What we should be afraid of is ignorance and dogmatism. And we need to be really scared of war.”
The reaction was instantaneous, and the room exploded into a heartfelt round of applause – and the viewers at home realised that event they were watching had just turned a significant corner and become social and political commitment.
“There is another reason why we should relax,” continued President Parades, “the fact that I will not talk about the crisis. We are here to raise our glasses to Spanish cinema, and to the huge interest it generates both at home and abroad. There is talent in our film industry, creativity and illusion. But no money, but perhaps that is something that can be solved with everyone pulling together. We are self-critical and make mistakes in our film industry, just as mistakes are made the world over. Good and bad films are made and occasionally, there are even some miracles, in spite of the might of Hollywood’s productions(...) But we like good cinema, wherever it comes from! What we need is to live together and not invasions, we need fresh air to express ourselves, we need to be allowed to compete under equal conditions. This country has a lot of history, many identities, and the wealth of numerous languages, and we share our exceptional cultural identity with Latin America, so we have to try to agree and defend our film industry together.”
Quite clearly, that was not the moment to address a crisis that necessitates concrete intervention by the government and not facile and unnecessary speeches as has always been the case. This was a night of celebration for Spanish cinema, and only a few times has the quality of the films presented been so exceptionally high. To the point that even the film critics found themselves in agreement.
The president ended her speech with a great one-liner when she asked for a cigarette: “I promise to stop smoking if the film industry’s problems are solved.”
The winners speak
So the show began with circus music, played in the style made famous by Kusturica, and performed by the Teatro Animalario, who wrote and coordinated the show (with a script by Juan Cavestany) that was presented by two actors, Guillermo Toledo and Alberto San Juan. That was the signal for everyone to stand up in the couture finery and proudly hold up a piece of paper with a message from the Platform against War that read: “No To War!”
Javier Bardem, who together with Juan Carlo Bellido presented the singer Lolita with the best newcomer acting award for her performance in Rencor, said that the gala ceremony will have “lots of glamour and prestige”.
Then the protest began.
José Angel Egido, winner of the best newcomer acting award for Los lunes al sol [+see also:
film profile] said: “I want to commemorate all the people who fight against stains, be they of an informative or a bloody kind. Nunca mais alla Guerra.”
Pedro Joan Ventura won the the Goya for best documentary for El efecto Iguazù about a strike at the Sintel factory. He climbed onto the stage in the company of several Sintel workers, and thanked the film industry for their support. He also said that this documentary was the result of his solitary work that nobody was willing to finance. He compared his solitude to that of the protagonists of the film, alone and betrayed by their government’s and Telefonica’s false promises.
The evening began to heat up with the various speakers addressing the audiences without even the slightest trace of rhetoric, about the unemployed, and the victims of society.
Spain’s minister for culture, Pilar del Castillo however, was quite clearly not having the best evening of her life and her discomfort was only too obvious as Luis Tosar, winner of the best supporting actor award suggested that President Aznar take a trip to the northern coast of Spain if he needs petrol, instead of going all the way to Iraq.
Julio Wallowits and Roger Gaul, joint winners of the best direction Goya for Smoking room shouted: “No to War!” and reminded the audience of all the producers who rejected their (now) prize-winning project.
Mercedes Sampietro, best actress for Lugares Comunes, reminded those present of Argentina under the generals and “those who suffer infamy because of political indecency.” The audience responded with another cry of “No to War!” and followed it with yet another round of applause and a standing ovation for Manuel Alexandre, as he was presented with his honorary Lifetime Achievement Goya.
Javier Bardem, winner of the top Spanish award for best actor in Los lunes al sol returned to the stage to remind those present that winning the elections does not necessarily mean having “carte blanche” to do anything.
“The government must listen to the people: the people who say “No To War”. (A recent survey reported that 80 per cent of the Spanish population was against war). Bardem gave a message of hope to all the unemployed when he quoted Claudio Rodrìguez: “You may be unemployed but that doesn’t mean you are broken”.
A Chanel-clad Penelope Cruz accompanied by Alejandro Amenabar (The Others) – both bearing anti-war leaflets in their hands - presented the last and most important award of the evening: best director to Fernando Leòn for Los Lunes al sol. Leòn dedicated his Goya to all those heroes who will never see the future and after flashing his anti-war slogan, added: “I hope that one day soon we will be able to talk about the crisis in the armaments industry”.
Producer Elias Querejeta (for Elias Querejeta Producciones and MediaPro Group), winner of the best film Goya for Los Lunes al sol said: “If one falls, we all fall. Let’s all take a step back and ensure that the 21st century does not become a terrible century”.
And on that note, the backstage partying began. Juan Cavestany was particularly delighted with the way the evening had evolved: “There was this spontaneous response from the audience, and all of us in the audience and the night’s winners fuelled each others’ enthusiasm.”
The minister for culture, Pilar del Castillo was not a happy woman. In a radio discussion with Guillermo Toledo, she accused Spanish cinema of being the armed supporters of the opposition.
Eduardo Campoy, the president of Spain’s Film Producers’ association called for Marisa Parades’s resignation while the leading figures of the Iberian film industry continued to protest against the policies of their government. In the words of Goya, the great Spanish painter for whom these awards were named: “the sleep of reason generates monsters.”
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