“You only abandon your home when your home does not allow you to stay,” said Jayro Bustamante, President of the Latin Horizons Section before presenting the Horizontes Award to Fernanda Valadez’s film, Identifying Features , that tells the story of Magdalena, a character interpreted by actress Mercedes Hernández, who begins a journey to find her son, who went missing in his way to the U.S. border. When she received the award, the Mexican director thanked her whole team that was not able to be present at the competition due to the health emergency. She also remembered the relatives of missing people in Mexico whom she called “our light in such a dark environment.”

Last year at the same film festival, Valadez’s project won the Films in Progress Award focused on supporting the development and post-production of projects with which the Mexican filmmaker was able to see the conclusion of that effort at the festival.

In addition to the Horizontes Award, Identifying Features won the Spanish Cooperation Prize, which is the award given to the Ibero American film that best contributes to human development, the eradication of poverty, and the full exercise of human rights. This award was granted to Valadez’s film because it makes visible, through the perspective of a mother, the right to demand justice for a missing son and because it also provides hope for more fair societies.

When she received the award , Fernández Valadez, who was born in Guanajuato, said that she was very surprised and excited and added that “I come as a messenger for all those who were not able to be here due to the special health circumstances in the world but mainly, and without being to be pretentious, for those to whom this film is dedicated, that is migrants, Mexican migrants, but also those from all the world who cross borders in search for a better life and many of whom die or disappear in that search. Those borders must be broken in search of more fair societies,” she said.


For Valadez, “ cinematography has the chance of contributing a bit in important and urgent conversations in our societies,” said the director for whom her film is a response to a reality that worsens instead of changing. She is convinced that migration and violence are still urgent topics and that is why they have to be shown and discussed.

For his part, Michel Franco, who was part of the Official Jury announced the award for the best direction for the film Beginning by Georgian director Dea Kulumbegashvili. The Special Jury Prize was for the film produced by Johnny Depp, Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan


Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, Lars Ranthe, the four actors wom Thomas Vinterberg’s Druk won best acting.

Finally, the Golden Shell, the highest prize given at the San Sebastián International Film Festival , was for Beginning , a film that talks about how a calm province town, a community of Jehova’s Witnesses, is attacked by an extremist group and how amid the conflict, the world of Yana, the wife of the community’s leader, slowly falls apart.


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