52nd Gijón International Film Festival

Spain, November 19 - November 28 2014

The jury

Amber Wilkinson (UK), Eduardo Guillot (Spain), Victoria Smirnova Mayzel (Russia)

Awarded films

Nestling on the Bay of Biscay in the Spanish region of Asturias, Gijón (Xijón) has a history that stretches back to pre-Roman times, with traces of the Roman baths still visible in the port city today. Nowadays, tourists are less likely to visit for the water than for the sharp cider (sidra) of the region — poured in inch-deep portions in a decanting ritual that can see almost as much end up on the floor. It’s a no-nonsense drink to be shared, an ethos that stretches well beyond the confines of the city’s bars.

Culture fans also come to drink deep of the latest alternative and auteur cinema at the International Film Festival, which has grown from its origins as a children and youth festival in 1963, into a mature staple of the Spanish film calendar that looks beyond its country’s shores. Marking its 52nd edition in 2014 and its third with Nacho Carballo at the helm, the festival showed its independent colours with its selection of guests.

Director, writer and cartoonist Terry Gilliam received a Prize of Honour (Premio Honorífico) — what might be considered the perfect choice for a festival that celebrates independence and, through it’s Animaficx section, the best animation from around the globe (this year, the prize for that section went to Tomm Moore’s Song of the Sea).

Oscar-winning costume designer Yvonne Blake was given the Women In Cinema (Premio Mujeres de Cine) award, while Filipino director Brillante Mendoza and US animator Bill Plympton also attended and had sections dedicated to their work.

The festival — which has enjoyed a record year for attendances — puts an emphasis on connecting the audiences with filmmakers, offering extensive Q&A sessions entitled “Coffees with…” and masterclasses. This year they also launched a section entitled Convergencias, which aimed to celebrate films that don’t yet have a Spanish release and offered the chance for audiences to talk to the critic who selected each movie about their choice. A Docuficx strand — dedicated to factual films — was also launched, with Ayat Najafi’s No Land’s Song winning the inaugural prize.

The International Competition jury named Kanu Behl’s Indian story of a young man trying to escape his criminal family Titli as the best film, with the best director award going to Iranian drama Melbourne, directed by Nima Javidi. The FIPRESCI prize was awarded to directing trio Marie Amachoukeli-Barsacq, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis for their emotionally resonant docufiction hybrid Party Girl. (Amber Wilkinson)

Gijón International Film Festival: www.en.fic.gijon.es