Sparrows tops San Sebastian pecking order

Icelandic coming-of-age drama takes Golden Shell.

by Amber Wilkinson

Sparrows Photo: Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival
Rúnar Rúnarsson's Icelandic coming-of-age tale Sparrows - based in part on his short film 2 Birds - won the Golden Shell at the 63rd San Sebastian Film Festival last night. The film, which charts a boy's struggle with loneliness and the first stirrings of love after his mum sends him to live with his dad, is emotionally strong and offers a thoughtful examination of the unintended impact adults' actions can have on the young.

The Silver Shell for best director went to Joachim Lafosse for his measured and spare examination of an NGO mission in crisis, The White Nights (Les Chevaliers Blanc). Featuring cracking performances from Vincent Lindon, Reda Kateb (Hippocrates) and the rest of the ensemble cast, it may occasionally meander to explore its moral maze but builds to a tense climax. The male acting Silver Shell was deservedly shared for the two leads of Truman - Ricardo Darín and Javier Camara. The spark off one another well in Cesc Gay's film, handling the comic and more emotional moments of the story of two friends coming to terms with the fact one has a terminal illness with grace and skill.

Lucile Hadzihalilovic's second feature - which arrives more than a decade after her first Innocence - took home the Special Jury Prize and a cinematography accolade for Manu Dacosse. The look of the film is certainly its strongest feature, employing the black sands of Lanzarote to eerie effect and making impressive use of repeated starfish and water imagery. The wryly funny and deeply ironic Apostate (El Apóstata) also picked up two awards for director Federico Veiroj - a special mention in the main competition and the FIPRESCI award.

The actress Silver Shell was won by Yordanka Ariosa for her full-on performance as a hooker with a heart in The King Of Havana.

The full list of winners is below


Golden Shell
Sparrows (Rúnar Rúnarsson Iceland, Denmark, Croatia)

Special Jury Prize
Evolution (Lucile Hadzihalilovic, France)

Special Mention
The Apostate (Federico Veiroj, Spain, Uruguay, France)

Silver Shell, Director
Joachim Lafosse, (The White Nights, Belgium, France)

Silver Shell, Actress
Yordanka Ariosa, (The King of Havana, Spain, Dominican Republic)

Silver Shell, Actor
Ricardo Darín, Javier Camara (“Truman,” Spain)

Manu Dacosse, (Evolution, Dir: Lucile Hadzihalilovic, France)

Jean Marie and Arnaud Larrieu (21 Nights with Pattie, Dir: Jean Marie and Arnaud Larrieu, France )


Kutxa New Directors' Award
The New Kid, (Rudi Rosenberg, France)

Special Mention
Sex Life of Plants, (Sebastian Brahm, Chile)
Drifters, (Peter Gronlund, Sweden)

Audience Award
Our Little Sister, (Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan)

Audience Award to the European Film
Mountains May Depart, (Jia Zhang-ke, China)

Horizontes Award
Paulina, (Santiago Mitre, Argentina, Brazil, France)

Special Mention
I Promise You Anarchy, (Julio Hernandez Cordon, Mexico)
From Afar (Luis Silva, Venezuela, Mexico)

Youth Ezae Award
Paulina, (Santiago Mitre, Argentina, Brazil, France)

Films In Progress Industry Award
The Cambridge Squatter, (Eliane Caffe, Brazil, France)

FIPRESCI International Federation of Critics' Prize
The Apostate, (Federico Veiroj, Spain, Uruguay, France)

Tokyo Gohan Film Festival Award
Noma, My Perfect Storm, (Pierre Deschamps, UK, Denmark)

Feroz Zinemaldia Award
Truman, (Cesc Gay, Spain, Argentina)

Spanish Cooperation Award
Land and Shade, (César Augusto Acevedo, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Netherlands, France)

TVE Other Look Award
Paulina, (Santiago Mitre, Argentina, Brazil, France)

Signis Award
Moira, (Levan Tutberidze, Georgia)

Special Mention
When a Tree Falls, Asier Altuna Iza (Spain)

Irizar Award
Amama (Asier Altuna, Spain)

Special Mention
Sister of Mine, (Irene Escolar, Spain)

Sebastiane Award
Freeheld, (Peter Sollett, US)

Share this with others on...

Nicole Garcia’s family rollercoaster When real-life imitates art in new Disney+ series Everything Is Fine

Every little moment Samyuktha Vijayan on getting real about transition in Blue Sunshine

'I think, through the screen, we can gain a truthful reality' Dāvis Sīmanis on the cyclical nature of history and why we need to learn from it in Maria's Silence

Some form of melancholy Aylin Tezel on exploring intersecting journeys in Falling Into Place

Human Rights Watch London returns for 28th edition Festival highlights role of youth

2024 Golden Eddies announced Oppenheimer and The Holdovers take top awards

More news and features

We're bringing you all the latest from the Glasgow Film Festival.

We're looking forward to SXSW and BFI Flare.

We've recently covered the Berlinale, Sundance, Palm Springs, the French Film Festival, DOC NYC, the UK Jewish Film Festival and the Leeds International Film Festival.

Read our full for more.

Visit our festivals section.


More competitions coming soon.