Catalan director Isaki Lacuesta’s Mali-set drama The Double Steps picked up the Golden Shell as the San Sebastian International Film Festival came to a close Saturday night.

A mystical tale, inspired by the French painter Francois Augieras, The Double Steps had received a mixed reaction from critics, who praised its cinematography but were unsure of its commercial potential internationally.

“It was a great decision by the jury, and this award will help the film’s [local] box office,” Enrique Costa, head of distribution at Avalon, which is releasing The Double Steps in Spain, told ScreenDaily.

Another major award winner announced at the festival’s closing gala was Filippos Tsitos’ Greek drama Unfair World, which picked up the Silver Shell for best director and the best actor prize for Antonis Kafetzopoulos’ performance as a police interrogator who decides to pardon people whose lives have been cruel.

Other key winners were Julie Delpy’s family comedy-drama Le Skylab, which picked up the Special Jury Prize; Maria Leon, who won best actress for her role in Benito Zambrano’s moving post-Spanish Civil War drama The Sleeping Voice; Ulf Brantas, who took the best cinematography prize for Bjorn Runge’s drama Happy End; and Hirokazu Kore-eda, who won best screenplay for the Japanese drama I Wish, which was hotly tipped to win the top prize.

Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist, an uplifting homage to silent era films, picked up the audience award, although many expected the film’s lead Jean Dujardin to walk away with the best actor prize as he did at Cannes.

Other winners on the night were Jan Zabeil’s drama The River Used To Be A Man, which picked up the New Director’s award; Pablo Giorgelli’s Camera d’Or winner Las Acacias, which took the Horizontes prize; Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now?, which won the Best European film award; and Dexter Fletcher’s directorial debut Wild Bill, which won the Youth Award, much to the British director’s delight. He told ScreenDaily: “I’m over the moon. The younger demographic are a vital audience who love going to the cinema.”