Neds from director Peter Mullan picked up the Golden Shell award for best film at this year’s San Sebastian Film Festival, while Raul Ruiz took the Silver Shell best director prize for his four and a half hour epic Mysteries Of Lisbon.

There were no obvious standout titles in official selection this year that were expected to win and so the announcements of the two key awards were met with polite applause from the critics and press in attendance at the press conference. This is in stark contrast to last year when boos rang out because stand-out Spanish-Argentinian title The Secret In Their Eyes failed to pick up any prizes.

Some festivalgoers had complained that it was hard to understand the Scottish accents in Mullan’s film about non educated delinquents (NEDs) living in 1970s Glasgow, but the majority of international festival attendees agreed it was a worthy winner. The Spanish critics were not so unanimous in their praise.

Some of the local critics were even more surprised when non-professional young actor Connor McCarron picked up the best actor prize for his performance in Neds. He was selected by Mullen out of 450 children who answered to a press advert for the role.

Mullen had said earlier in the festival that it would be great to win an award as every gong helps push along the promotion of the film.

Veteran Chilean director Ruiz was a popular winner with Mysteries Of Lisbon for his 19th-century story of a group of colourful characters all linked to an orphan boy studying at a boarding school.

Other key winners were all for world premieres at the festival: Nora Navas picked up the best actress prize for her performance in Catalan film Pa Negre; another Catalan film Elisa K won the Special Jury prize; Jimmy Gimferrer won best cinematography for local Basque title Aita; and Bent Hamer took the best screenplay prize for Home For Christmas.

The last of these proved to be a bit of a “Hamer blow” for the local press and critics who greeted the announcement with loud boos and cattle calls, expressing their disapproval of the film and because they were expecting one of the local titles to receive the honour.

Awards in full 
Golden Shell for best film: Neds(Peter Mullan)  
Special jury prize: Elisa K (Judith Colell, Jordi Cadena)  
Silver Shell for best director: Raul Ruiz (Mysteries Of Lisbon)  
Silver Shell for best actress: Nora Navas (Pa Negre)  
Silver Shell for best actor: Connor McCarron (Neds)  
Jury prize for best screenplay: Bent Hamer (Home For Christmas)
Jury prize for best cinematography: Jimmy Gimferrer (Aita)  
Kutxa New Directors Award: Los Colores De La Montana (Carlos Cesar Arbelaez)  
Horizontes Award: Abel (Diego Luna)  
TCM Audience Award: Barney’s Version (Richard J. Lewis)  
European film award: How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr Foster? (Norbeto Lopez Amado, Carlos Carcas)
Youth award: Abel (Diego Luna)  
FIPRESCI award: Genpin (Naomi Kawase)