Daniel Monzon’s thriller Cell 211 stole the limelight from Alejandro Amenabar’s historical epic Agora at the 25th Goya Awards ceremony last night (February 14), scooping eight awards including best film and best director, against Agora’s seven.

The two films had received the most nominations going into the event, which was held in Madrid.

Amenbar picked up the award for best original script and a host of smaller prizes; while Cell 211 took best actor, for Luis Tozar’s intimidating performance as the leader of a prison riot, and best new actor for Alberto Ammann in his role as a prison guard.

The big surprise of the night was a guest appearance by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. Who presented the best film award to Monzon. Almodovar’s film Broken Embraces only managed one award for best original music.

Collecting his best director award, Monzon was quick to praise his team for their efforts. He added: “We make these films to connect with the audience and so it is you that we have to thank for this award.” Cell 211 has already taken more than $15m in Spain and has been sold to IFC Films for distribution in the US.

Other notable winners were Lola Dueñas, who picked up the best actress award for her role in the moving drama Yo Tambien, and Raul Arevalo who took best supporting actor for this role in Daniel Sanchez Arevalos’ Gordos.

Juan Jose Campanella’s tense thriller The Secret In Their Eyes took the award for best South American film and best new actress for Soledad Vilamil.

Alex De La Iglesia, director of the Spanish Film Academy, made a speech about the improved state of the local film industry, especially at the box office, and the country should use presidency of the European Union to promote the positives of local cinema.

For a full list of the award winners go to the academy’s website.