‘Spirit of the Beehive’ Director Victor Erice to Receive a San Sebastian Donostia Award

Victor Erice, one of the greatest of Spanish filmmakers, will receive a prestigious Donostia Award, given for career achievement, at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

The award will coincide with a screening of Erice’s latest film, “Close Your Eyes (Cerrar los Ojos),” which world premiered at Cannes in May.

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Few awards seem more appropriate. The statuette will be presented to Erice by Ana Torrent, on the 50th anniversary of “The Spirit of the Beehive,” Erice’s multi-leveled masterpiece, which starred a 6-year-old Torrent and went on to win San Sebastian’s Gold Shell, its highest award.

It was Erice’s first feature, “Los Desafios” — a triptych anthology produced by Elías Querejeta and presented by a youthful Erice at San Sebastián in 1969 — that helped give San Sebastian a social-issue edge which it has never abandoned, compounded by “The Spirit of the Beehive” and José Luis Borau’s 1975 film “Poachers.”

Screening in the Cannes Premiere section, some believed “Close Your Eyes” did not achieve the impact it deserves, prompting critics to ask why it was passed up for main competition. Erice then accused the Cannes Festival of misleading him into thinking that the film had been chosen for competition when he could have taken it elsewhere.

The Donostia Award, following a North American premiere at Toronto, will allow further consideration of the film, which is a moving tribute to the power of cinema despite losing its uncontested status as the world’s mass pop culture, and even often being given up for dead.

The prize ceremony will take place on Sept. 29 at San Sebastian’s Victoria Eugenia Theatre, the same cinema which saw the world premiere of “The Spirit of the Beehive.”

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