Thursday, September 24, 2009

SSIFF Honors to Brooks, McKellen and Uribe






Actor Ian McKellen, UK, and director Imanol Uribe, Spain, each received special awards yesterday at the San Sebastián International Film Festival. In addition, the Festival is honoring the late American writer / director Richard Brooks with a retrospective of his movies.

Sir Ian McKellen, 71, has left a lasting impression on millions with his diverse roles in movies such as THE DA VINCI CODE, THE LORD OF THE RINGS series, RICHARD III, KING LEAR and HAMLET, both in the movies and on television. He was the guest of honor at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, which honored him with the Donastia Award for years of exceptional work in Movies.

The date also signified McKellen's 40-year relationship with the Hollywood film industry. He received the Festival's Silver Shell (la Concha de Plata) for Best Actor in the 1998 movie, GODS AND MONSTERS, directed by James Whale.

What many do not know is that this diverse actor is a trained Shakespearean actor who originated the role of Antonio Salieri in the Broadway production of 'Amadeus,' has hosted 'Saturday Night Live,' and appeared in the original X-MEN. He was awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in 1990 for his services to drama. He has been twice nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor but, alas, both alluded him.

In 1986, the Festival created the Donostia Award, to be given to a great film personality in recognition for their work and career. That year, the first one was awarded to Gregory Peck, and the honorees who have followed have been very diverse beginning with Peck to this year's honoree, Ian McKellen and last year's honoree, Meryl Streep. See all honorees.

Also on Wednesday, director Imanol Uribe received the Zinemira Award at the Basque Film Gala. Uribe was born in San Salvador (1950), but is of Spanish heritage and was raised in Madrid. After the death of dictator Francisco Franco, the Basque cinema could come forward, and it did with a vengeance in the late 1970's. The film that mostly facilitated the rise of the New Basque Cinema was written and directed by Uribe, THE BURGOS TRIAL (El proceso de Burgos). In 1979, the movie was awarded the Pearl of the Cantabrian Award for Best Film in the Spanish Language at San Sebastián.

He went on to make movies honored around the world such as, ESCAPE FROM SEGOVIA, (La fuga de Segovia, 1981), MIKEL'S DEATH (La muerte de Mikel), both films also related to the political situation of the time. Then, he turned his attention to other genres resulting in fine contemporary Spanish movies such as, BILBAO BLUES, (Adiós pequeña, 1986), THE DUMBFOUNDED KING (El rey pasmad, 1991), and two movies for which he landed the Golden Shell at San Sebastián Festival, Días contados (1994) and Bwana (1996).

The late American filmmaker Richard Brooks (1912 - 1991) is being honored by the Festival with a Richard Brooks Retrospective. Thirty movies, either written or directed by Brooks are being shown during the Festival, and their dates span the years from 1944 to 1985.

The movies of Richard Brooks, dubbed into Spanish of course, were very popular in Spain. Dubbed American movies, always older than those being shown elsewhere, were staples in the movie theaters and shown on television during era of dictator Franco. There was a complete industry in Spain devoted to dubbing movies from any language other than Spanish into Spanish, altering the content and dialogue at the same time in order to please Franco's censors.

When I first went to Spain, most people I met there knew more about American movies and movie stars than did I, even though I was practically raised in a movie theater in the American heartland. I wanted to know about films made in Spain and they did not want to talk about then, many saying they did not even go to see Spanish movies because they were mostly propaganda tools for, or against Franco.

To my dear friends in Spain, I wish I could be there this year to enjoy this Richard Brooks Retrospective with you, and here is the list (see more about them here):

COBRA WOMAN ( USA, 1944 )
BRUTE FORCE ( USA, 1947 )
CROSSFIRE ( USA, 1947 )
TO THE VICTOR ( USA, 1948 )
KEY LARGO ( USA, 1948 )
CRISIS ( USA, 1950 )
THE LIGHT TOUCH ( USA, 1951 )
DEADLINE-U.S.A. ( USA, 1952 )
BATTLE CIRCUS ( USA, 1953 )
TAKE THE HIGH GROUND! ( USA, 1953 )
FLAME AND THE FLESH ( USA, 1954 )
THE LAST TIME I SAW PARIS ( USA, 1954 )
BLACKBOARD JUNGLE ( USA, 1955 )
THE LAST HUNT ( USA, 1956 )
THE CATERED AFFAIR ( USA, 1956 )
SOMETHING OF VALUE ( USA, 1957 )
THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV ( USA, 1958 )
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF ( USA, 1958 )
ELMER GANTRY ( USA, 1960 )
SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH ( USA, 1962 )
LORD JIM ( USA, 1965 )
THE PROFESSIONALS ( USA, 1966 )
IN COLD BLOOD ( USA, 1967 )
THE HAPPY ENDING ( USA, 1969 )
$ (DOLLARS) ( USA, 1971 )
BITE THE BULLET ( USA, 1975 )
LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR ( USA, 1977 )
WRONG IS RIGHT ( USA, 1982 )
FEVER PITCH ( USA, 1985)

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