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CINEMA

Horror director David Cronenberg honoured at Spain’s San Sebastián film festival

Canadian director David Cronenberg, the master of stomach-churning body-horror classics, has been honoured at the San Sebastián film festival for a lifetime of work examining the dark side of the soul.

Horror director David Cronenberg honoured at Spain's San Sebastián film festival
Canadian director David Cronenberg receives the Donostia lifetime achievement award, in recognition of his prestigious film career, during 70th San Sebastian International Film Festival in the northern Spanish Basque city of San Sebastian on September 21, 2022. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA / AFP)

The sci-fi shockmeister, whose films include “The Fly”, “Dead Ringers” and “Crash”, received the honorary Donostia award at a gala in the northern Spanish city.

Earlier on Wednesday, the 79-year-old — whose latest film “Crimes of the Future” is a dystopian tale about a future where people undergo surgical alterations for the sake of art and sexual pleasure – said his work was not about seeking to push spectators to the limits but to push himself.

“It’s like I go on a creative journey exploring myself, my relationship with the world. I invent things and see how it feels… do they reveal some truth, something interesting, something entertaining,” he told reporters at the festival.

Watch David Cronenberg’s award speech below (starts around minute 12):

“And then I say to the audience: this is something I imagined, see what you think. So I’m not really trying to push the audience, I’m really pushing myself.”

When the film, starring Kristen Stewart, Lea Seydoux and Viggo Mortensen, premiered at Cannes in May, it divided the audience, sending many queasy viewers running for the exits but also winning a seven-minute standing ovation.

It will be screened later on Wednesday in San Sebastián.

‘The attraction of the forbidden’

“The appeal of art is to the unconscious, to the parts of ourselves that are still primitive and destructive, so in that way, we as artists are exploring those things that are hidden, that are forbidden, that are not to be acted upon in society, but still need to be understood, and to be expressed,” Cronenberg said.

“The attraction of cinema has always been what is forbidden, whether it’s as simple as sex in a time of repression, when sex was not to be shown on the screen, to other more obscure kinds of impulses like the ones that you might see in ‘Crimes of the Future’,” he said.

Winning the Donostia award was an encouragement to keep making films, he said.

“I used to think if you got an award for your whole career, they were basically saying enough, stop making films but I now realise it’s really to say: keep making films,” he said.

“So I hope to commit more crimes in the future by making more films.”

He said his next project was a film called “The Shrouds” starring Seydoux and Vincent Cassel which would begin shooting in Toronto in spring.

“It’s a very personal project for me. People who know me will know what parts of it are autobiographical,” he said.

Earlier this week, French actress Juliette Binoche was also honoured with a Donostia award for her acting career.

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CULTURE

‘Marlowe’ closes Spain’s San Sebastian film festival

Spain's prestigious San Sebastian film festival wrapped up on Saturday with the international premiere of "Marlowe" starring Northern Irish actor Liam Neeson.

'Marlowe' closes Spain's San Sebastian film festival

Based on John Banville’s novel “The Black Eyed Blonde”, the movie is set in 1930s Los Angeles.

Private eye Philip Marlowe — played by Neeson — is tasked with finding the missing ex-lover of Clare Cavendish, a beautiful heiress played by German-born actress Diane Kruger.

The character Marlowe has been played before by the likes of Humphrey Bogart and Elliott Gould, but Neeson said this pedigree didn’t phase him from taking part in the neo-noir thriller.

“Even though these wonderful actors have played it before, that didn’t intimidate me,” Neeson told a press conference in San Sebastian.

The film by Oscar-winning director Neil Jordan was screened out of competition at the 70th edition of the festival, which opened in San Sebastian in northern Spain on September 16.

“We don’t get to play those kind of characters very often anymore or those kind of films are not being made that often anymore,” said Kruger, known for films such as “Inglourious Basterds” and “Troy”.

“I knew Neil would give it a certain quirky twist and that he would cast it superbly,” said Neeson.

A total of 17 films are competing for the best award in the official selection, with the festival’s prizes to be announced at a ceremony late Saturday.

The festival is the fourth major European film gala of the year, following Cannes, Venice and Berlin.

It was originally intended to honour Spanish-language films but has established itself as a top showcase for new films.

The festival hosted the world premiere of Alfred Hitchcock’s spy thriller “North by Northwest” in 1959 and Woody Allen’s “Melinda and Melinda” in 2004.

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