The town of Costa del Sol may not mean much to most, but the minute you mention the Spanish city of Marbella, faces light up in recognition. Home to the famous Puerto Banús—a harbor brashly exhibiting monstrous yachts and the latest Porsche and Lamborghini models driven by high society jetsetters who regularly vacation or live in one of the many MTV Cribs-style villas along the Golden Mile—Marbella embodies the luxury inherent in the world’s culture of fame and entertainment. Designer shops like Jimmy Choo, Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci look out onto the shimmering seas of the Costa del Sol; meanwhile, there’s always an opportunity to play a bit of celebrity-spotting as you dig into some spicy gambas al pil pil.
You’ll see plenty of Hollywood figures, like Hugh Grant and Antonio Banderas, who have homes in and around Marbella, and even Princes William and Harry regularly tan their royal British complexion in the nearby Sotogrande area. Vladimir Putin apparently loves the Benahavís hills over Marbella so much he’s built a giant mansion there, complete with a €1-million wine cellar, a home cinema and two swimming pools—proving that, in fact, it is possible for him to have such a feeeling. And then, of course, once a year actors, musicians and artists—political and public figures alike—flock to this cosmopolitan Andalusian town for one purpose only: to soak up the Starlite Festival.
Lasting a little over a month, from July to August, the Starlite Festival revels in providing goers with the ultimate Marbella experience: Between concerts by the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Roger Hodgson (Supertramp; Ringo Starr’s band) and Julieta Venegas, the Starlite Lounge is the summer’s nightly meeting point for anyone with an affinity for art, fashion and design—or at least with an affinity for having people think you’re into those things. Check out the latest trends on the catwalk, discover young talent and attend Hollywood premieres at a theater which boasts Spain’s largest movie screen.
This years’ Starlite opened on the 18th of July with the second edition of the Premios PLATINO del Cine Iberoamericano, a prestigious event that has established itself as one of the most important award shows for Spanish and Ibero-American cinema in the world. Marbella is perfectly suited to host such a happening.
This year Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales), directed by Argentinian Damián Szifrón and produced by Pedro Almodóvar, was the obvious winner, going home with an impressive eight premios, including for Best Director, Music, Script and Actress (Érica Rivas). Szifrón’s “six deadly stories of revenge” connects a series of unrelated incidents and people, swinging back and forth between ordinary tales of anarchy and absurd, even comical violence. The one emotion that carries throughout the whole film is humanity’s often insatiable need for revenge: It’s “an old school anthology film laced with biting social commentary about Argentinian class and how one’s sense of justice plays into where one’s lot has fallen in life,” as Paste’s own critic Tom Meek put it.
Another winner, Alex Catalán, director of photography for La isla minima (Marshland), now has a Premio PLATINO to add to his Premio Goya for Best Photography. In Marshland, Catalán captures the conflicted mentalities of two extremely different Madrid-based homicide detectives, paired to take on a devastating case, by pitting them against the unforgiving natural backdrop of the Sevillian marshlands. The film has often been likened to True Detective, for its focus on contradicting personalities and eerily atmospheric environments.
Venezuelan director Claudia Pinto Emperador won Best Directorial Debut for La distancia más larga (The Longest Distance), depicting the individual journeys of a young boy and his grandmother, and the realizations they make along the way. The Premio for Best Animated Film went to Alê Abreu’s O Menino e o Mundo (The Boy and the World), a visually intense film we’ve already loved at a few other international film festivals, a guaranteed retinal gratification as well as a surreal but emotionally accurate portrayal of modern day Brazil.
Moreso, the evening was a truly proud moment for Spanish and Ibero-American cinema—and for Antonio Banderas in particular: He received the Honor’s Award for Ibero-American Cinema.
Antonio Banderas is a born Malagueño, who regularly returns home to participate in the Semana Santa processions. Since his early roles in some of Almodóvar’s films, he has branched out to Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Columbia, Puerto Rico and the United States, appearing in countless Hollywood films. His acceptance speech mirrored the sentiments of the actors and directors of Latin American and Ibero-American cinema, his feelings met with teary eyes and a confirming round of applause.
In the conclusion of his speech, Antonio quotes one of Spain’s most important writers, Miguel de Cervantes, and his world-renowned Don Quijote de la Mancha:
Roxanne Sancto is a freelance journalist, co-author of The Pink Boots and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Facebook. She likes getting creative in padm?sana.