Huelva Awards: Top Prize Goes to Angeles Cruz’s ‘Valentina or the Serenity,’ About a Young Indigenous Girl Processing Her Father’s Death

Fast-emerging Mexican auteur, delivering knowing and cross.grained takes on life in Mixtec communities, actress-turned-director Angeles Cruz’s “Valentina or the Serenity” walked off Saturday night with the top best picture award and best actress (Myriam Bravo) in a high-caliber main competition at this year’s Huelva Ibero-American Film Festival.

Best actor went to “Money Heist’s” Rodolfo de la Serna, for his weighty turn in Paramount Television Intl. Studios’ “The Rescue.”

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The Rescue
The Rescue

Cruz’s win underscored the focus and value of Huelva. Despite funding challenges, Latin America’s big three – Mexico, Brazil and Argentina – alone produced 660 features in 2022. It is simply impossible for the media to pay sufficient attention to all but a highly select clutch of top titles.

“Ibero-American cinema is constantly evolving. Now, it is very easy to find great films, if not in budgetary terms, then in artistic ambitions,” Huelva director Manuel H. Martin told Variety in the run-up to the festival. “Valentina,” played Toronto and Mexico. Despite that, it deserves far more attention.

Titles, moreover, buck cliché and expectations. “Valentina” turns on a young Mixtec girl’s attempt to process her father’s death, which runs from guilt and denial to final remembrance. Critics’ consensus, to the extent that it has received reviews, is that the final effect is an entertaining film.

Huelva’s Audience Award winner “La Suprema,” from Colombia’s Felipe Holguín, is set in a dirt poor hamlet off the Caribbean coast. That said, it delivers a heart warming ode to community solidarity as the villagers rally round to fufill a long girl’s dream.

Launched by Fremantle at MipCancun and scooping best director at Huelva, “Adolfo,” first feature director Sofia Auza’s Berlin Generation 14Plus winner, moves more in the quirky relationship mode of U.S. idea cinema than Mexican melodrama.

Huelva Special Jury Prize laureate “The Buriti Flower,” Renée Nader Messora and João Salaviza, winner of a Cannes Un Certain Regard Ensemble Prize, calibrates the Kraho people’s ever more sophisticated battle for land rights. The first three title attest to the lighter, more uplifting mood coursing post-pandemic through Latin American cinema. As producer The Immigrant’s Camila Jiménez-Villa and Silvana Aguirre said of “Adolfo,” “Sofia paints a world where pain very much exists but is mitigated by the warmth of human connection.”

In further plaudits, Andalusian Talent’s Juan Ramón Jiménez Prize was won by “Reflections in a Bedroom,” an across-the-tracks relationship drama directed by Ceres Machado, chosen by Variety in 2022 as one of Spain’s 10 Talents to Track.

The Buriti Flower
The Buriti Flower

2022 Huelva Ibero-American Film Festival Winners:

The prizes are named after Colombus, “Cólon” in Spanish, who set sail from Huelva in 1492 to discover a new route to the Indies, ending up in the Americas.

Golden Colón, Best Film

“Valentina or the Serenity” (“Valentina o la Serenidad,” Mexico)

Silver Colón, Special Mention

“The Buriti Flower” (Portugal, Brazil)

Silver Colón, Best Director

Sofía Auza (“Adolfo,” Mexico, U.S.)

Silver Colón, Best Acting

Rodrigo de la Serna – “The Recue” (“El Rapto,” Argentina)

Myriam Bravo – “Valentina or the Serenity” (“Valentina o la Serenidad,” Mexico)

Lead cast – “Prison in the Andes” (“Penal Cordillera,” Chile, Brazil)

Audience Award

“La Suprema” (Colombia)

Silver Colón, Youth Jury – Best International Ibero-American Short Film

“Antes de Madrid” (Uruguay)

Silver Colón – Best National Short Film

“Si me queréi, irse” (Spain)

Silver Colón Youth Jury – Best Andalucian Short Film Director

Fer Pérez (“Hipocampo,” Spain)

Juan Ramón Jiménez Award – Andalucian Talent

“Reflejos de una Habitación” (Spain)

Pantalla Huelva Best Short Film

“Donde no habite el olvido” (Spain)

Pantalla Huelva Audience Award

“La Última” (Spain)

Radio Exterior de España Award

“La Suprema” (Spain)

Camilo a la Libertad – Asociación Cultura con Orgullo Best LGTBQI+ Screening Award

“Power Alley(Levante)” (Spain)

AAMMA Women Award

Lillah Halla (“Power Alley” Levante)” Brazil)

Huelva Transfusion, Tissue and Cells Center Award – “Película Más Solidaria” Award

“Valentina or the Serenity” (“Valentina o la Serenidad,” Mexico)

Ibero-American Journalist Association Award

“The Rescue” (“El Rapto,” Argentina)

ANCCO Award – Broken Heart Award

“Valentina or the Serenity” (“Valentina o la Serenidad,” Mexico)

IES Pablo Neruda – Best Feature Film 

“Reflejos en una Habitación” (Spain)

IES Pablo Neruda – Best International Short Film

“Antes de que te vayas” (Chile, Mexico)

Ibero-American House – Best Official Selection Film Award

“The Buriti Flower” (Portugal, Brazil)

Huelva León Ortega Art School Award – Feature Film Best Cinematography

“Adolfo” (Mexico)

Huelva León Ortega Art School Award – Short Film Best Cinematography

“Apnea” (Mexico)

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