Costa-Gavras wins Catalonia International Prize
The Greek-french director becomes the first filmmaker to receive the honor
Greek-French director Costa-Gavras has been awarded the 29th Catalonia International Prize, thus becoming the first filmmaker to receive an honor that has previously recognized such world-class figures as Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, English writer Doris Lessing and Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi.
Costas-Gavras (short for Konstantínos Gavras) received the award from the hands of the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont on Monday July 7 at a ceremony in Generalitat Palace, the headquarters of the Catalan government.
“Our present knows closer than we would imagine behaviors typical of totalitarian regimes like those portrayed by Costa-Gavras,” said Puigdemont, referring to how countries have dealt with the refugee crisis. According to him, cinema can be “very useful” to society because it can “unmask” abuses of power.
Costa-Gavras criticized European politicians for their lack of will, resignation and indifference, and said the “only way out” is the revolt. He also said free trade agreements would grant big companies such as Netflix, Amazon or Google “absolute freedom” to control the production and distribution of European audiovisual works, and to impose their cultural beliefs.
“Our present knows closer than we would imagine behaviors typical of totalitarian regimes like those portrayed by Costa-Gavras”
Carles Puigdemont, Catalan President
The award has been awarded to Costas-Gavras for his “extensive” and “intense” filmography, as well as his “critical” vision of the world and his “social commitment”.
Costa-Gavras, born in in 1933 in Loutra Iraias, Greece, is a widely recognized director and the maker of political films, such as the 1969 thriller “Z.” He has been awarded the Academy Award, a BAFTA, the Golden Bear at Berlin and the Golden Palm at Cannes, as well as a Cesar and the Order of Arts and Letters of Spain.
Some 141 candidates from 57 countries all across the world were considered for this year’s edition. The winner received 80,000 euros and the sculpture “The Key and the Letter” by Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies.
The Catalonia International Prize, created by the Catalan government in 1989, is awarded every year to “recognize and stimulate excellence in creativity, to bring to the Catalan people examples of the highest quality and exigency in all aspects of culture, and to establish a place for Catalonia in the arena of great international awards.”
Catalonia International Prize laureates also include British primatologist Jane Goodall, anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu, Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, American ex-president Jimmy Carter, Indian economist Amartya Sen and French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, among others.