Arturo Ripstein's The Ruination Of Men (La Perdicion De Los Hombres) walked away with the Golden Shell award for best film at the 48th San Sebastian International film festival.

Shot in black and white, the black comedy about two women who fight over the body of a dead lover also won the jury prize for best script and the Fipresci international film critics award. A Mexican-Spanish production, The Ruination Of Men was co-produced by Mexico's Gardenia Producciones and IMCINE and Spain's Canal Plus and Wanda Vision.

The prizes are the latest in a line of awards for the veteran Mexican director Ripstein at San Sebastian. He has previously won prizes for El Lugar Sin Limites in 1978, El Imperio De La Fortuna in 1986 and Principio Y Fin in 1993.

The Silver Shell for best director went to Reza Parsa - an Iranian director who has lived in Sweden since 1980 - for Before The Storm. The film, which is Parsa's first, tells the story of an Iranian who works as a taxi driver in Sweden and whose past dramatically catches up with him. Before The Storm also won the youth jury award.

The San Sebastian jury, headed by director Stephen Frears, also awarded a special prize to French film Paria - which deals with social exclusion - citing 'the courage of its commitment, the outstanding collective labour of its actors and the importance of the subject, over and above its many artistic and cinematographic qualities.'

The festival's audience award was won by French film Nationale 7 - a tragicomedy set in a hospital for people with cerebral palsy which also won the audience award at this year's Berlin Film Festival. Also popular with audiences were Amores Perros, Le Gout Des Autres and Purely Belter.

Elsewhere there was success for Harrison's Flowers, a French film set during the Yugoslavian war starring Andie MacDowell. It won the jury award for best photography, the Circle of Cinematographic Writers award for best film and the grand priz of the International Catholic Organization for Cinema and

Audiovisual (OCIC).

On the sales front, the festival saw some activity. The festival's sales office said 500 producers, directors and buyers attended - including representatives from Fox, Kinowelt, Fine Line and Miramax.

Of the films most requested for viewing by distributors, Laura Mana's Sex Out Of Compassion (Sexo Por Compassion) headed the list followed by House Of Orgies (Orgienhaus), Krampack and El Bola (The Pellet).

The sales office also confirmed a number of deals without revealing the names of buyers. They include Krampack to Australia, Bajo California and De Ida Y Vuelta to the US and Spain. Deals are also pending on Harrison's Flowers for the US, to Brazil and Before The Storm to Spain and the US.

Full list of winners:

Golden Shell for best film:
The Ruination of Men (La Perdicion de los Hombres) (Mexico-Spain)
Dir: Arturo Ripstein

Silver Shell for best director:
Reza Parsa, Before the Storm (Fore Stormen) (Sweden)

Special Jury Award:
Paria (France)
Dir: Nicolas Klotz

Silver Shell for best actress:
Carmen Maura, The Commonwealth (La Communidad) (Spain)

Silver Shell for best actor:
Gianfranco Brero, Tinta Roja (Peru-Spain)

Jury award for best photography:
Nicola Pecorini, Harrison's Flowers (France)

Jury award for best screenplay:
Paz Alicia Garciadiego, The Ruination Of Men (Mexico-Spain)

New directors prize:
Eduardo Winspeare, Live Blood (Sangue Vivo)
Special mentions: El Factor Pilgrim, El Otro Barrio

Pearl of the Audience Award:
Nationale 7 (France)
Dir: Jean-Pierre Sinapi

Youth Jury Award:
Before The Storm (Fore Stormen) (Sweden)
Dir: Reza Parsa

FIPRESCI International Film Critics Prize:
The Ruination of Men (La Perdicion de los Hombres) (Mexico-Spain)
Dir: Arturo Ripstein
The Back Of The World (La Espalda Del Mundo) (Spain)
Dir: Javier Corcuera

OCIC Grand Prize:
Harrison's Flowers (France)
Dir: Elie Chouraqui

OCIC Special Prize:
The Pellet (El Bola) (Spain)
Dir: Archero Manas

CEC Prize:
Harrison's Flowers (France)
Dir: Elie Chouraqui

Blood Donors Association of Gipuzkoa for Solidarity Award:
Dir: Nicolas Klotz