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Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s The Beasts scored big at the 37th edition of the Spanish Film Academy Goya awards held on Saturday in Seville, scooping major prizes including best film and best director.

The ceremony celebrated a year hailed as one of the strongest for Spanish cinema in recent memory. However, one of Spain’s most high-profile films on the international stage, Carla Simon’s Berlinale Golden Bear winner Alcarras, left the Goyas empty-handed despite 11 nominations.

The Beasts, which debuted in Cannes in the Premieres section, won nine Goya Awards out from a total of 17 nominations, having triumphed in Spain at the box office. The film has earned €3.6m locally so far.

Sorogoyen’s take on the western stars Denis Ménochet and Marina Foïs as a French couple who settle in a remote Galician village to run an organic farm, clashing with locals who see them as intruders. Produced by Arcadia Motion Pictures, Sorogoyen’s Caballo Films and Le Pacte and sold by Latido Films, the film took the prizes for best supporting actor, sound, cinematography, editing, original score, best actor for Ménochet, best director and best film. It was the second time Sorogoyen has won big at the Goyas: in 2018, his political thriller The Candidate (also known as The Realm) won seven prizes including best direction.

Intimate family drama Lullaby, which premiered at the Berlinale last February in the Panorama section, was nominated for 11 awards and took the prizes for best new director for Alauda Ruiz de Azua, best actress for Laia Costa (Victoria) and best supporting actress for Susi Sanchez. Ruiz de Azua joins a long list of women directors who have won in this category after consecutive wins by Carla Simon, Arantxa Etxevarría, Belen Funes, Pilar Palomero and Clara Roquet.

Prison 77, by Alberto Rodríguez (Marshland, Smoke & Mirrors) took five awards (make-up, special effects, art direction, costume and production design). Produced by Atipica Films and Movistar +, this penitentiary thriller is set at the time of Spain’s transition to democracy after decades of Franco’s dictatorship.

The loss of director Carlos Saura, who died the day before the ceremony at 91, was remembered throughout the ceremony. He had been due to receive the Goya de Honor, the career achievement award of the Spanish Academy, at the event. His legacy, with titles like Los Golfos, The Hunt, Peppermint Frappé, Cría Cuervos, Blood Wedding and Flamenco in a filmography that included more than 50 films and a career in cinema of nearly 70 years, was duly honoured as one of the greatest Spanish filmmakers of all time.

Two of his children, Antonio and Anna Saura, as well as his partner, actress Eulalia Ramon, went onstage in the most moving moment of the night with Ramon reading a message written by the director himself only days before his death. Due to the worsening of Saura’s health, the Academy had presented the statuette to him at home in a private ceremony.

Alcarras’ lack of awards aside, the absence of Albert Serra’s Pacifiction at the awards, after being in competition Cannes, was referred to by filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona, in charge of giving the award for best direction. It had not received any nominations.

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