The rural drama "As Bestas" was the big winner at the Goya ceremony, Spain's equivalent of the Oscars, which on Saturday night also honoured its lead actor, Frenchman Denis Ménochet, and paid tribute to director Carlos Saura, who died the day before at 91.
Rodrigo Sorogoyen's feature film, starring French actors Marina Foïs and Denis Ménochet, won a total of nine awards, including best Spanish film, best director and best original screenplay.
"To be a good director, besides always looking at Carlos Saura, you have to surround yourself with the best team possible. And I did it, that's the only merit I have," reacted the 40-year-old filmmaker upon receiving his award on Saturday night.
The film's lead actor, Denis Ménochet, won the award for best actor. This is the most important award obtained to date by the French actor, who has worked with filmmakers François Ozon ("Peter Van Kant"), Quentin Tarantino ("Inglorious Bastards") and Ridley Scott ("Robin Hood").
"I have been lucky enough to work with actors I admire," said the actor in Spanish, citing Marina Foïs and the Spaniard Luis Zahera, "best actor in the world" according to him, awarded the Goya for best supporting actor.
The film by Rodrigo Sorogoyen, a rising star of Spanish cinema, tells the story of a couple who fall in love with a destitute corner of Galicia, in the northwest of Spain, whose settlement arouses the threatening hostility of two neighbouring brothers.
This feature film inspired by a true story has already been seen by 700,000 spectators. It had already caused a sensation in May at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was presented out of competition.
"What we liked was to imagine the motivations" of the characters, to see "how you can hate someone in your neighbourhood so much, and (the motivation) of the two foreigners, people who are not welcome but who say to themselves "I'm not going to leave here", the director explained to AFP in Cannes.
The 37th edition of the Goyas was also an opportunity for the film world to pay a tribute to the Spanish director Carlos Saura, who died Friday at his home in the Madrid area, and was awarded an honorary Goya.
"The death of Carlos Saura has moved the entire profession" because "he was one of the most brilliant representatives of Spanish culture," stressed the president of the Film Academy Fernando Méndez-Leite at the ceremony in Seville, southern Spain.
The Goya was presented to the filmmaker's two children and his wife, the actress Eulalia Ramón. The latter read a message prepared by Carlos Saura, thanking those who have accompanied him "in this wonderful work that is the making of a film".
Born on January 4, 1932, in Huesca (Aragon, north), Carlos Saura made about fifty films, including "Cria Cuervos" in 1975. He has received numerous awards during his career, including a Silver Bear in 1966 in Berlin for "The Hunt".
The filmmaker, who should have come to collect his prize in person, is considered a key figure in the history of Spanish cinema, along with Luis Buñuel and Pedro Almodovar.
The Goya also paid tribute to the French actress Juliette Binoche, who received an international award for her "extraordinary trajectory" in cinema.
While receiving her award, the actress sang the tune of "Porque te vas", an emblematic song from the film "Cria Cuervos" by Carlos Saura. The Spanish filmmaker "moved me terribly", she said, before saying in Spanish that she was "happy" to receive this "wonderful prize".
During her 40-year career, Juliette Binoche has played in many films, including "Les Amants du Pont-Neuf" and "The English Patient", for which she received the Oscar for best supporting actress.