Actor-turned-director Achero Manas' debut feature film, Pellet (El Bola), was the surprise grand winner at the 15th edition of Spain's top Goya Awards on Saturday night.
A startlingly realistic tale of child abuse and one of the first titles out of new production house Tesela Producciones, Pellet won four out of five nominations including best film, best new director, best original script and best new actor (the young Juan Jose Ballesta).
Following in the footsteps of previous Goya award sweeps by newcomers such as Agustin Diaz Yanes (1995's Nobody Will Talk About Us When We're Dead), Alex de la Iglesia (1995's The Day Of The Beast), Alejandro Amenabar (1996's Thesis), and Benito Zambrano (1999's Alone), Manas beat out favoured winners in top categories including veteran Jose Luis Garci's You're The One, de la Iglesia's Common Wealth (La Comunidad) and Jose Luis Borau's Leo.
Borau, the former president of the Spanish Cinema Academy, walked away with a warmly applauded best director nod. You're The One took home five awards out of its 14 nominations, including best supporting actress (Julia Gutierrez Caba) and four technical nods. Common Wealth, Spain's top grossing domestic film last year and a favoured winner with 15 Goya nominations, came away with only three awards including special effects, supporting actor (Emilio Guttierrez Caba) and best actress (Carmen Maura).
Garci, who was chosen to represent Spain for the foreign-language Academy Award this year for the sixth time, was noticeably absent from Saturday's ceremony, held this year in Madrid. Garci left the Academy in 1997 after he was accused of trying to influence votes for his film The Grandfather (El Abuelo).
Laia Marull took home the best new actress prize for her lead role in the action-packed road movie Fugitives (Fugitivas), while sentimental favourite Juan Luis Galiardo won a best actor nod for Goodbye From The Heart (Adios Con El Corazon). Veteran writer-actor-director Fernando Fernan-Gomez, a notorious no-show at Goya ceremonies, was awarded best adapted script for period piece Lazaro De Tormes.
Lars Von Trier's Dancing In The Dark was chosen as the best European film and Marcelo Pineyro's Plata Quemada won a Goya for the best foreign Spanish-language film.