Rarely before, perhaps never before, the winners of a film festival seemed so coherent, so adjusted to such a precise argument and such a perfect script. Definitely, Claire Denis, the president of the jury and one of the clearest and most recognizable voices in contemporary cinema, could not disappoint us. As soon as the list of winners is analyzed, each box obeys the same intention of rescuing from each category what it contains of a critical and different view towards the world. And always from the historically forgotten or directly closed position of women. (all films, except the Japanese one, are directed in whole or in part by a woman). To sum it up, San Sebastián was crowned in the 71st edition as a euphoric and proudly feminist festival. And for this reason (not despite it) evidently fair.
The Golden Shell went to The cuckold, by Jaione Camborda. And from now on we can talk about a historic Golden Shell. It is the first time in the entire history of a competition that started in 1953 that a Spanish director receives such a mention. Quite a reason for celebration or, if we are honest, for collective shame. How has it been possible for so much time to pass that, in truth, is all the time? The answer lies in part in all the films that, in one way or another, appear next to it on the honor list. They have all been carefully and sensibly chosen by the jury to highlight not only the woman’s perspective, but also to point out everything that prevents that perspective from finding its place in a just society. Call it patriarchy or clean and morondo machismo.
Jaione Camborda’s award-winning film can be described as an epic of sorority. But as a programmatic description it does not do justice. It is that, yes, but it is also much more. And it is from an unquestionable ethical and aesthetic rigor. A matron (enigmatic and profound Janet Novás) She flees her town after being involved in an abortion with terrible consequences. We are in 1971 and fleeing is more than an option, it seems like a necessity. Camborda literally sculpts the film in the darkness of the night, in the murmur of whispers, in the clarity of the wind itself. And she does it by modulating the rules of a drama that is at the same time road-movie and even western. And celebration of solidarity between humiliated people.
The film celebrates the female body while revealing and denouncing all the powers and rules that go through it. The images of an abortion crowd the viewer’s retina with the same violent transparency as those of a birth. There were fainting people at one of the screenings. But it is not clear if it was because of the heat, because of the too vivid imagination of some or because of the pintxos (which can also be). The truth is that rarely has the intimacy of pain, of women’s pain, been filmed with such wisdom and forcefulness. This confirms a new voice in Spanish cinema; a voice that is already a mandatory reference. The director born in San Sebastián itself was previously a photographer but little by little became a filmmaker in Prague, Munich, Berlin and Galicia. His debut in the feature film, Arima, was quickly included in the Novo Cinema Galego. The one we see now preserves the traces of the group’s fiery verismo, but adds an animal poetics that makes it unique. “I receive the award with pride, but also with responsibility,” he said shortly before taking the stand, aware of already being the spearhead of the latest good thing that happens to Spanish cinema: the emergence of women.
The rest of Claire Denis’ (author’s) honors rhymed perfectly with the Cocha de Oro. The jury prize went to Inversefrom the Swedish Isabella Eklöf, It is an award for a harsh and bitter x-ray of the consequences of child abuse that has a lot to do with accidents of male arrogance, with sex understood as punishment and an exercise of domination. It is a film as uncomfortable as it is illustrious that, in its own way, follows the path of the Golden Shell and points out that of others. A Journey in Spring, of the Taiwanese Tzu-Hui Peng y Ping-Wen Wang, It is a beautiful and painful story of reconciliation and mourning of a man who learns in his loneliness as a widower to understand each of his mistakes, each of the offenses to his wife and son.