Spanish film stars lash out at government austerity at national awards

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, February 18, 2013 7:35 EDT
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Spanish actor Javier Bardem after winning a Goya award for producer of the best documentary film 'Sons of the Clouds' at the Goya Film Awards, Madrid on Feb. 18, 2013. Image via AFP.
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Spanish stars lashed out at government austerity measures at the prestigious Spanish film awards, the Goyas, on Sunday which saw Pablo Berger’s “Blancanieves” take the top film award.

The critical tone of the ceremony was set by presenter Eva Hache’s opening monologue which touched on spending cuts to health and eduction and allegations of slush fund financing at the ruling Popular Party and corruption by the Spanish king’s son-in-law Inaki Urdangarin.

Celebrities then repeatedly used their moment in the spotlight when collecting awards during the ceremony broadcast live on public television TVE to strike out at the government’s handling of Spain’s economic crisis.

Maribel Verdu dedicated her Goya win for best actress to “all those who have lost their home, their future, even their lives due to an unfair system.”

Campaigners say hundreds of thousands of people have been evicted from their homes in the crisis brought on by the collapse of Spain’s housing market in 2008 which has caused the jobless rate to soar to a record 26 percent.

Outrage has been fanned by a string of suicides of people reportedly driven to despair by the prospect of eviction, including a retired couple in Mallorca last week.

Verdu received her Goya for her role as the evil stepmother in “Blancanieves”, a silent, black-and-white Spanish retelling of the Snow White story. She beat Naomi Watts, Penelope Cruz and Aida Folch.

Candela Pena, who won the best supporting actress for “Una Pistola en Cada Mano”, railed against steep cuts to health care.

“I saw my father die at a public hospital where there were no blankets to cover him, no water. I have a child and I don’t know what kind of public education he will receive,” she said.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government has slashed health spending by seven billion euros ($9.1 billion) a year as part of a campaign to squeeze 150 billion euros out of the crisis-racked country’s budget by 2014.

Many actors wore stickers with a drawing of a pair of scissors and the word “NO” in a sign of protest against the spending cuts.

The president of the Spanish film academy, Enrique Gonzalez Macho, lashed out against the “brutal” rise in the sales tax which saw the cinema admission tax jump from 8.0 percent to 21 percent.

“Consumption of culture has suffered a very strong drop and therefore lower revenues, which has been accompanied by the strong social costs, the closure of companies and a significant rise in unemployment which has reached alarming figures,” he said.

“Blancanieves” picked up 10 Goyas in all, including for best original screenplay and best original score.

The French blockbuster “Les Intouchables” won the best European film prize.

The film, directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, has become the second biggest box office hit in France and the biggest selling French film overseas of all time.

It is a story about the relationship between a quadriplegic millionaire and a caretaker he hires from a poor Parisian suburb.

Unlike last year’s European prize winner at the Goyas “The Artist”, the film cannot secure further glory at the US Oscars where it has not even been nominated in the foreign language category.

Juan Antonio Bayona won best director for “The Impossible” which has already earned Naomi Watts a best actress nomination at the upcoming US Oscars.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

Agence France-Presse
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