SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain – Chinese director Lu Chuan's film "City of Life and Death" has won the top prize at Spain's San Sebastian Film Festival.
The movie, a sensitive and balanced depiction of a traumatic moment in China's history known as the Nanking Massacre, or the Rape of Nanking, deals with a six-week period in 1937-38 following the Japanese capture of the Chinese city of Nanking.
The metropolis was the capital of the Republic of China, and hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed and tens of thousands of women raped by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army.
"Shot in wide lens black-and-white, the film alternates Japanese and Chinese points of view to brush a compelling and impressionist portrait of the day-to-day living conditions in the devastated city," the jury said, praising Lu's focus on "the minute ethical dilemmas demanded by surviving in wartime."
The best actress award went to Lola Duenas for her performance in Spanish film "Yo Tambien," while the best actor prize went to Pablo Pineda for the same film.
Pineda was the first Spanish person with Down's syndrome to obtain a university degree, and he has now gained the festival's top acting award for his role as Daniel, a man who sees in Laura — Lola Duenas — the kind of woman he has always longed for.
Duenas has previously attracted critical acclaim in Pedro Almodovar's "Volver" and "The Sea Inside," where she played opposite Javier Bardem's character Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic.
Javier Rebollo won the best director prize for "La Mujer Sin Piano," a Spain-France collaboration, while the jury's prize for best cinematography went to Cao Yu for "City of Life and Death."
Rebollo's movie deals humorously with a 24-hour period in a woman's life and features actress Carmen Machi in her first lead role beside Czech actor Jan Budar.
The festival's special prize went to "Le Refuge" by Francois Ozon of France. The film begins in a chic Paris apartment, where Mousse — Isabelle Carre — and Louis — Melvil Poupaud — two beautiful people, have fallen into a chaotic lifestyle. They are very much in love but also clearly doomed.
Best screenplay award went to Andrew Bovell, Melissa Reeves, Patricia Corneluus and Christos Tsiolkas for the Australian film "Blessed."
This movie follows the complex lives and misadventures of seven youths who wander the Melbourne streets at night as their mothers await their return home.
The awards were announced Saturday by festival jury president, film director Laurent Cantet.