Loveless won the Official Competition Photo: Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival
Loveless, which tells the story of a divorcing couple whose son disappears, was praised by the jury, who said: "The filmmaker elevated the personal to a social and political statement."
It marks the second time Zvyagintsev has won the top award at the festival, after he took home the prize for Leviathan in 2014.
They also commended Palestinian family drama Wajib. They said: "Sometimes funny and often sad, we loved the glimpse into the lives of ordinary Christian Arabs in Nazareth.”
Speaking about The Sutherland Award winner, which sees sexual repression and coming of age form a dangerous cocktail in a small community, the jury said: "Among a strong field of debut features, we found ourselves enamoured by the urgency, vitality and originality of The Wound. Director John Trengove and his terrific cast have created a dynamic and inimitable coming-of-age story that takes a heartbreaking look at masculinity and sexuality."
They gave a special mention to the "beautiful and person" Summer 1993, by Carla Simón.
The Grierson Award for best documentary went to Lucy Cohen's Kingdom Of Us, which charts how a family cope after their father commits suicide.
The jury said: "It captures an extraordinary level of family intimacy in its delicate exploration of grief and memory."
They also commended Makala, directed by Emmanuel Gras, and hybrid Before Summer Ends, directed by Maryam Goormaghtigh.
The Rabbit Hunt, directed by Patrick Bresnan, was named Best Short Film.
The jury said: “We were unanimously impressed by Patrick Bresnan's verité documentary The Rabbit Hunt. The film is a thrilling look at one family's otherwise everyday hustle, and is proof that farm-to-table eating doesn't have to be a bourgeoisie exercise. We admired its agility, its confidence and its refusal to judge its enterprising subjects, and are excited to see what Bresnan does next."
They gave special mentions to Scaffold (Kazik Radwanski), Martin Cries/Martin Pleure (Jonathan Vinel) and the performance of Deborah Zebeda in Laws Of The Game (Aegina Brahim).
Paul Greengrass also accepted his BFI Fellowship, as previously announced.