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MADRID (AP) — Spanish director Carlos Vermut won this year's top award for his film "Magical Girl" and also claimed the best director prize Saturday at Spain's San Sebastian Film Festival.
The movie, a Spanish-French co-production starring Luis Bermejo, Jose Sacristan, Barbara Lennie and Lucia Pollan, is Vermut's second feature film — after his debut with "Diamond Flash" — and is a crime drama in the film noir tradition, set in Madrid and with references to Japanese manga comics.
It tells the story of Alicia, a sickly child who dreams of a dress in a comic strip called "Magical Girl Yukiko." Her father, Luis, will do anything to make his ailing daughter's dreams come true, but the characters become enmeshed in a plot of blackmail and irresistible fate.
"Cinema is a trip you don't embark upon alone," said Vermut. "I ??like characters more than plots, and I've featured as a character in the previous award," he said when presented with the best film statuette.
Javier Gutierrez won the best actor award for his interpretation of a policeman poles apart from his partner in Alberto Rodriguez's thriller "La Isla Minima" ("Marshland").
The two cops are sent — as a reprimand for a previous mistake — to investigate the disappearance of two teenagers in a remote village firmly anchored in the past. There they must pit their wits against a brutal killer.
"The real winner is the atmosphere of the film," said cameraman Alex Catalan who stepped up to collect the best filmography award for the movie in which Gutierrez starred.
Danish actress Paprika Steen was given the best actress award for her role in "Stille Hjerte" (Silent Heart), directed by fellow Dane Bille August.
At the festival, actors Denzel Washington and Benicio del Toro were also awarded with the Donostia Award acknowledging their careers.
The awards were handed to the winners at a glittering ceremony Saturday night in the northern seaside resort city of San Sebastian.
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