De La Iglesia confirms resignation as Academy president

Agusti Villaronga’s post Spanish Civil War drama Black Bread (Pa Negre) picked up nine awards, including best director and film, at Spain’s 25th Goya awards last night (February 13).

Villaronga’s small film about a young boy who discovers dark secrets in a village in post Civil War Catalonia beat off tough competition from bigger titles, including Iciar Bollain’s Even The Rain, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo Cortes’ Buried, starring Ryan Reynolds, and Alex De La Iglesia’s Last Circus, which only won a couple of technical awards, despite receiving 15 nominations.

Aside from the top two prizes, Villaronga also won best adapted screenplay for Black Bread, Nora Navas picked up best actress and child actors Francesc Colomer and Marina Comas won the promising acting awards. While Javier Bardem walked away with the best actor prize for his role in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful, which has also been nominated for the Oscars.

But despite not picking up any key awards on the night, it was De La Iglesia who stole the show at the Royal Theatre where the ceremony took place when he confirmed in his speech that he will be stepping down as president of the Spanish Film Academy after less than two years in the job. The move comes following a very public dispute with Culture Minister Angeles Gonzalez Sinde over her attempts to push through an anti-piracy bill, which will allow illegal downloading sites to be shutdown.

It was this bill, which is expected to be past in the coming weeks, which also caused several cyber protestors to turn up at the ceremony and pelt eggs at the attendees as they arrived, and one of them even managed to get on to the stage just before the best actor was announced.

However, De La Iglesia, who sat alongside Gonzalez Sinde throughout the ceremony, insisted on unity and vision in his address to attendees. “It may seem that we arrived to this day separately, but we are in the same thing, which is to defend cinema. Let’s not be afraid of Internet because Internet is the salvation of our cinema. We will only beat the future if we are the ones who change and move forward.”

Other key award winners on the night were Chris Sparling for original screenplay on Cortes’ Buried, which also won best editing, and on the same night that it dominated the BAFTA’s, The King’s Speech won best European film.