By John HopewellPablo Sandoval
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Two hotly-favored competition frontrunners, Spain’s motherhood-focused “Lullaby” and “Utama,” shot on an awe-inspiring Bolivian Altiplano, swept the board at a historic, 25th Málaga Film Festival which said a lot about the current state of the Spanish film industry. 

Running March 18-26, the Festival proved a vibrant affair, galvanised by renewed interest in the Spanish cinema after a buoyant reception for its major movies at Berlin, as well as the joy of proving the first time many industry attendees had seen each other in person in two years and backing from Spain’s AVS Hub plan for a vastly larger industry presence. 

In Alauda Ruiz de Azúa’s “Lullaby,” coming after Sundance hit “Piggy” and Carla Simón’s Berlin Golden Bear triumph “Alcarrás,” Spain would look to have a third art pic breakout in just the first three months of 2022, all driven by a young generation of women cineastes, directors and producers. Carlota Pereda’s “Piggy” uses quite brilliantly a plus-size girl’s complicity with a serial killer to force home to audiences the terrifying hatred inspiredly bullying. “Lullaby” is much nearer in mould to “Alcarrás,” as a young mother retreats to her family home on the Basque coast, discovering a new understanding with her once censorial mother. 

Acclaimed at Málaga for its authenticity of detail – psychological, of place, and family power dynamics – “Lullaby” scored four big main competition prizes – best Spanish picture, actress for both protagonists, screenplay and, crucially for its commercial prospects, Malaga’s Audience Awards. It also stopped four non-official awards. 
Confirming that breakout art films can still do the business abroad, Latido announced at Málaga first sales on “Lullaby” to China (Huanxi Media), as well as Film Stop for the Baltic States and Lucky Dogs for Scandinavia. Conversations are advanced for deals with Germany, former-Yugoslavia and Poland, said Juan Torres at sales agent Latido Films.
A known quantity, having scored this year’s Sundance World Cinematic Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, Bolivian Alejandro Loayza Grisi’s “Utama” still stunned for its novel approach to climate change, charting its impact on the life of an elderly couple the Bolivian Altiplano. 

Using vast widescreen shots of barren, parched landscapes – “We didn’t want to make a ‘National Geographic’ cover,” the director said at Málaga – the movie proves emotionally involving in its portrait of the couple clinging on to a life despite draught and illness, which is their own and determined to live it out with dignity. 

Prizes served to shine the light on some acclaimed highlights at Málaga: “The Gigantes,” a Baja California-set female friendship tale from Spanish maverick Beatriz Sánchis (“They Are All Dead”); Leonardo Sbaraglia’s tearaway perf in Argentine Leonardo Brzezicki’s “Almost in Love”; and Nicolás Poblete, delivering arguably the most powerful of confessions in Matías Bize’s “Private Messages.” 

Anaïs Taracena won best doc feature for “El Silencio del Topo,” a tribute to Elías Barahona, a poet and journalist who served as a press attaché to Donando Álvarez Ruíz – Guatemalan interior minister over 1978-82, now charged with crimes against humanity – using his insider’s knowledge to save the lives of dozens of activists opposing the countrys heinous government. 40 years later his heroism is finally celebrated.


Golden Biznaga, Spanish Picture
“Lullaby,” (Alauda Ruiz de Azúa)

Golden Biznaga, Latin American Picture
“Utama,” (Alejandro Loayza Grisi)

Silver Biznaga, Special Jury Prize
“My Emptiness and I,” (Adrián Silvestre)

Special Mention
“The Gigantes,” (Beatriz Sanchis)

Silver Biznaga, Director

Alejandro Loayza Grisi

Silver Biznaga ‘Hotel AC Palace,’ Best Actress
Laia Costa y Susi Sánchez, (“Lullaby”)

Silver Biznaga ‘Hotel AC Palace,’ Best Actor
Leonardo Sbaraglia, (“Almost in Love”)

Silver Biznaga, Supporting Actress
Debora Maria da Silva, (“A mãe”)

Silver Biznaga, Supporting Actor

Nicolás Poblete, (“Private Messages”)

Original Screenplay

Aldua Ruiz de Azúa

Silver Biznaga, Original Score

Cergio Prudencio, (“Utama”)

Silver Biznaga, Cinematography
Nicolás Wong Díaz, (“The Gigantes”)

Silver Biznaga, Post Production
Rodrigo Saquel, (“Private Messages”)

Silver Biznaga, Critics Award

Silver Biznaga, Audience Award ‘Flixolé’. 

“Lullaby,” (Alauda Ruiz de Azúa)


Silver Biznaga, Best Spanish Picture
“Places Where We’ve Never Been,” (Roberto Pérez Toledo)

Silver Biznaga, Best Iberoamerican Picture
“Mostro,” (José Pablo Escamilla)

Silver Biznaga, Best Director

Meritxell Colell, (“Duo”)

Silver Biznaga, Best Actress

Milena Smit y Olivia Baglivi, (“Libélulas”)

Silver Biznaga, Best Actor

Pepe Ocio y Sergio Torrico, (“Places Where We’ve Never Been”)

Silver Biznaga, Audience Award

“Libélulas,” (Luc Knowles)


Silver Biznaga, Documental Feature
“El Silencio del Topo,” (Anaïs Taracena)

Silver Biznaga, Best Documentary Direction
“La visita y un jardín secreto,” (Irene M. Borrego)

“Delia,” (Victoria Pena)

Silver Biznaga, Best Documentary Direction
“La visita y un jardín secreto,” (Irene M. Borrego)

Jury Special Mention
“Memória Sufocada,” (Gabriel Di Giacomo)

Silver Biznaga, Audience Award
“La visita y un jardín secreto,” (Irene M. Borrego)

Special Jury Mention
“Balika,” (Aitor Sánchez y Lander Ibarretxe)

“Delia,” (Victoria Pena)

Silver Biznaga, Audience Award ‘Plus Málaga’ Section
“Presque,” (Bernard Campan, Alexandre Jollien)


Silver Biznaga, Supporting Women’s Rights
“Daida Back To The Ocean,” (Pablo Ramírez Bolaños)

Silver Biznaga, Supporting Women’s Rights Jury Award
“Las cartas perdidas,” (Amparo Climent)

Special Mention, Supporting Women’s Rights
“Sorda,” (Nuria Muñoz-Ortín, Eva Libertad)

Silver Biznaga, Supporting Women’s Rights Documentary
“Once Upon a Place,” (Celia Novis)

Silver Biznaga, Supporting Women’s Rights Fiction Feature
“Llana negra,” (Elisabet Terri)

Silver Biznaga, Supporting Women’s Rights Costume Design
Susana Guerrero Núñez, (“Los elegidos”)

Special Jury Mention
“Nunca te dejaré sola,” (Mireia Noguera)

Silver Biznaga, Supporting Women’s Rights Audience Award

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