After wowing a home crowd at the opening night of the San Sebastián Film Festival on Friday, looking dazzling at 48, Spain’s best-known actress, Penélope Cruz, spoke to a packed auditorium at the city’s Tabakalera culture center on Saturday when she was honored with Spain’s National Cinematography Prize.
“It is truly an honor for me to receive this National Cinematography Prize,” said Cruz speaking in Spanish.
“Cinema is and has been my passion since I was a child. Since I dreamed in the living room of my parents’ house of worlds to explore beyond our neighbourhood. The streets of my neighborhood sometimes became sets for incredible stories,” she went on. “My childhood was fantasizing about acting, living life so intensely to be able to encompass many lives through dozens of characters.”
Cruz received two standing ovations during the ceremony. Cruz was presented the award by Spain’s Minister of Culture and Sports, Miquel Iceta.
She spent part of a six-minute speech looking back and drawing at least one lesson from a now more than 30-year career. “A beautiful poem by Cavafis says that if you are going to travel to Ithaca, try to make the trip long; because the important thing is not to arrive, the important thing is the adventures that are experienced along the way,” Cruz reflected.
“And that is true in life and in the cinema. It is not the result, it is the incredible adventure of living other lives, knowing other realities, discovering wonderful secrets of the human heart, and sharing them with the world. The adventure of this long journey to Ithaca is more exciting than I could have ever dreamed of, from that light of my parents’ house. For that I am very grateful.”
She made her English-language debut with “Talk of Angels,” released in 1998, and has since notched up a long list of international hits, including “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Blow,” “All The Pretty Horses,” and Spanish films like “All About My Mother” and Bigas Luna’s “Jamon, Jamon” as well as Fernando Trueba’s Academy Award winning “Belle Epoque,” Cruz’s two breakout films which caught the attention of a broader audience.
Cruz had words of thanks for both Bigas Luna and Trueba and her parents plus career-long Spain-based manager Katrina Bayonas. “She didn’t chuck me out of her office he third time I went there,” she joked.
She also had special words of thanks inevitably for Pedro Almodóvar. He takes you to such a high level in terms of he demands he makes on you that I always discover new things about myself.”
Some of the many prizes garnered by the 48-year-old were summarized in a talk by actress Goya Toledo (“Amores Perros”) before Cruz gave her tearful acceptance speech full of thank yous.
Spanish actor Luis Tosar, who co-stars with Cruz in “On The Fringe,” also took to the stage to honor Cruz who sat front row in a pink suit, awaiting her moment to receive the award.
Following its Venice bow, earlier this month, Cruz and Tosar can be seen here in San Sebastián in the eviction thriller “On the Fringe,” directed by the Spanish-Argentine director Juan Diego Botto. Cruz served as a producer on the film, producing out of her new production venture.
Cruz has won many prizes, led by an Academy Award for best supporting actress in Woody Allen’s “Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona” (2008). She was nominated for her first Academy Award for the Almodóvar’s film “Volver” (2006), again for “Nine,” and again this year for the Almodóvar film “Parallel Mothers.”
It is not the first time she’s been feted at Spain’s top fest. In 2019, Cruz received San Sebastian’s Donostia Award, its highest honor, for career achievement.
Married to Spanish actor Javier Bardem, Cruz’s upcoming films include the Michael Mann passion project “Ferrari.”
John Hopewell contributed to this article.
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