Santiago Mitre’s “Argentina, 1985” and “News of a Kidnapping,” created by Andrés Wood and Rodrigo García, swept the top prizes for best picture and series respectively on Saturday night at Madrid’s 2023 Platino Awards, in a sign of how the global streamers – here Amazon Studios and Prime Video – have lured top-of-their-class talent in Latin America.
One highlight of the ceremony, dedicated to films and TV shows in the Spanish-speaking world, was Benicio del Toro’s acceptance speech of a honorary Platino in which he reflected on being typecast for many years in Hollywood as a Latino actor.
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“If I had to play stereotypes, I tried to find the character’s humanity, a sense of complicity, so that audiences felt what my character felt and whilst they’re watching, didn’t forget who I am and where I come from,” he said. “What’s important is to share more than be divided,” he added.
Del Toro was received with a standing ovation by an audience made up of some of the best actors in Spain, who hung on his every word.
Directed by Mitre, who broke out to attention with 2011 debut “The Student,” then conquered Cannes’ Critics’ Week with 2015’s “Paulina,” the Academy Award-nominated “Argentina, 1985” – produced by Amazon Studios, Infinity Hill, Mitre’s label Unión de los Rios and star Ricardo Darín’s Kenya Films – swept best picture, screenplay (Mitre, Mariano Llinás) and lead actor (Darín), among five Platino Awards.
Commissioned by Prime Video in 2020, in the same financing round that included “Iosi, the Repentant Spy,” which won a best supporting actor Platino for Alejandro Awada on Saturday, “News of a Kidnapping” scooped best series, creators (Wood, García), lead series actress (Cristina Umaña) and supporting actress (Majida Issa). Stuart Ford’s AGC Studios and Chile’s Invercine & Wood produced.
Latido Films, the Madrid-based sales agent, also made a strong showing at the Platinos, taking a total six awards, split between an acting double for “Lullaby” and four for Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s “The Beasts,” which already swept Spain’s Goya Awards and scored a French Cesar for best foreign film.
It may or may not be a coincidence that “Argentina, 1985,” “News” and “The Beasts,” whose awards included best director, talk about how individuals or institutions – the Colombian senator husband of an abduction victim in “News,” Darin’s crusading public prosecutor in “Argentina, 1985,” a French couple in deep Galicia in “The Beasts” – confront violence, whether endemic drug gang coercion in “News,” the institutionalised torture and murder under Argentina’s Junta, or authoritarian machismo in “The Beasts.”
“Thank you to the thousands and thousands of Colombians who, silently, without any show, try to make peace and a country, despite all the obvious difficulties,” said Umaña, who in “News of a Kidnapping” plays the real-life Maruja Pachón, kidnapped in 1990 by Colombian cartel members in an effort to halt jailed drug runners’ extradition to the U.S.
What’s interesting about this adaptation of Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez non-fiction bestseller is not only how it wraps a reflection on violence in a taut thriller and sidelines the towering presence of Pablo Escobar but also how it shows shows a certain sympathy for those who carry out the daily work of overseeing the abducted.
Best first feature went to Manuela Martelli’s supremely crafted “1976,” in which a cosseted well-healed upper middle class wife gradually cottons on to what is happening in 1976 Chile, one of the bloodiest years under dictator Augusto Pinochet.
“Memory is important. We can’t allow violence to be the innate solution in any part of the world,” said Infinity Hill’s, Axel Kuschevatzky, a producer of “Argentina, 1985.”
In other Awards highlights, Spain’s Laia Costa and Susi Sánchez repeated their Goya plaudits taking best film actress and supporting actress as daughter and mother in Spain’s “Lullaby,” an iconic title in Spain’s new cinema of highly grounded dramas speaking, however, about universal issues.
As Bolivian filmmakers continue to win awards around the world, Saturday’s Platino Awards also marked the first time that a Bolivian movie – Alejandro Loayza Grisi’s “Utama,” a 2022 World Cinema Grand Jury Prize – took silverware at the Platinos. The drama, charting the life of an elderly couple on Bolivia’s stunningly shot Altiplano, won original score (Sergio Prudencio) and cinematography (Uruguay’s Barbara Álvarez, “25 Watts,” “Whisky”).
When the Platino Awards were launched in Panama in 2014 by Egeda, the biggest rights collection entity in the Spanish-speaking world, one challenge they faced was that most prize winners were already eminently well known.
Cut to 10 editions later and, such is the surfeit of content, that many winning titles have largely flown under the radar.
Best animated feature went, for instance, to “Eagle and Jaguar: The Legendary Warrior,” directed by Mike R. Ortiz and produced by Mexico’s Kooltoon Entertainment. An eco-themed fantasy adventure, it turns on two young heroes who travel back in time from a post-apocalypse world almost without water to the present. There they enroll the help of legendary Aztec and Mayan warriors to take on a business magnate who wants to limit water resources.
The statue for Mexico comes less than two months before it will feature as the Guest Country at France’s Annecy Animation Festival.
The Awards also shone light on Pavel Giroud’s “El Caso Padilla,” prizing a devastating and sad return to the Padilla Affair, which marked a before and after for Cuba’s revolution.
Arrested by Fidel Castro’s regime for alleged counter-revolutionary attitudes, Heberto Padilla, maybe the most brilliant of young Cuban poets and until then a consented enfant terrible of the regime, is forced to recant in public and, in an echo of Moscow’s 1930s show trials, accuse his own wife and friends of betraying the Revolution.
“El Caso Padilla” recuperates filmed footage, buried in a Cuban governmental archive for 50 years, of Padilla’s two-hour speech of theatrical contrition. The Affair broke Padilla, who died in exile. It also ended the honeymoon of Europe’s left with Castro and introduced a censorship in Cuba which remains to this day.
Full list of winners:
“Argentina, 1985” (Argentina)
Rodrigo Sorogoyen, “The Beasts”
Laia Costa, “Lullaby”
Ricardo Darín, “Argentina, 1985”
Mariano Llinás, Santiago Mitre, “Argentina, 1985”
“1976” (Chile, Argentina)
Best Feature Comedy
“Official Competition,” (Argentina, Spain)
Sergio Prudencio, “Utama”
Supporting Role Performance
Susi Sanchez, “Lullaby” (Spain)
Luis Zahera, “The Beasts” (Spain, France)
“The Eagle and the Jaguar: the Legendary Warriors” (Mexico)
Documentary Best Feature
“El Caso Padilla,” (Cuba, Spain)
Alberto del Campo, “The Beasts”
Micaela Saiegh, “Argentina, 1985)
Barbara Álvarez, “Utama”
Aitor Berenguer, Fabiola Ordoyo, Yasmina Praderas, “The Beasts”
Film & Education In Values
“Argentina, 1985” (Argentina, U.S)
Benicio del Toro
Best Series Or Mini-Series
“News of a Kidnapping” (Colombia, Chile, U.S.)
Best Series Or Mini-Series Creator
Andrés Wood, Rodrigo García, “News of a Kidnapping”
Actor In A Series Or Mini-Series
Guillermo Francella, “The One in Charge”
Actress In A Series Or Mini-Series
Cristina Umaña, “News of a Kidnapping”
Supporting Actor In A Series Or Mini-Series
Alejandro Awada, “Iosi, The Regretful Spy”
Supporting Actress In A Series Or Mini-Series
Majida Issa, “News of a Kidnapping”
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