“Life is a gift”
Viggo Mortensen collects the Donostia Award at San Sebastian Festival from the filmmaker Agustín Díaz Yanes.
Before introducing ‘Falling’, his directorial debut, the actor received greetings from the producer Jeremy Thomas, the footballer Beto Acosta and the director David Cronenberg.
Today Viggo Mortensen received the Donostia Award corresponding to the 68th edition of San Sebastian Festival at a gala held in the Kursaal, where the North American actor introduced the feature film Falling, his directorial debut. “I congratulate you for your tremendous luck in continuing to be alive and for the love you show for the cinema by being here”, said the honoured guest to the public after receiving the award from the hands of the filmmaker from Madrid, Agustín Díaz Yanes.
Visibly nervous and moved, the actor and director voiced his thanks for a lindo or lovely award reflecting “the long history of the cinema” and its “promise as a manner of creative expression and communication”. “When I think of the impressive list of artists who have received the Donostia Award I feel very lucky to be included in that tradition and that promise. I value it in order to continue learning and improving in my profession”, he assured.
Mortensen ended with a “reflection” on today’s situation. “In one way or another, Covid-19 has screwed us all and will continue to screw us for some time to come, but it is only another stumbling block in our existence. We have always lived with uncertainty, although perhaps we are more aware of that at this time. Uncertainty is the law of life, but don’t let us forget that life is a gift. We must continue to forge ahead, accompanying those who are alone and honouring those who are no longer here, doing it the best we can to the best of our imagination”, he said before ending in Basque with “Gora Donostia Zinemaldia!” and a resounding “Long live the cinema!”
At the start of the event, gala host Edurne Ormazabal referred to Mortensen as an “exceptional actor” with the capacity to embody all kinds of characters. Bold and spirited or furious individuals, reflexive intellectuals, charmers and scoundrels… an impressive array of personalities vouches for his career. Nothing is beyond his reach: fearlessness, cunning, vulnerability, sense and sensibility appear on the screen in every shot”, she said before introducing a moving video summarising a career of 25 years with outstanding characters like that of Aragorn, in Peter Jackson’s fantasy trilogy The Lord of the Rings.
As a surprise, the organisation screened images of three friends who had wished to send their regards to Viggo Mortensen. On the one hand, British producer Jeremy Thomas highlighted his facet of poet, actor, film director and musician: “He does all areas of artistic endeavour and is really wonderful to work with”. On the other, the Argentinian Beto Acosta, former player with the San Lorenzo de Almagro football team, congratulated him and promised him a shirt from the club of which he is a devoted fan.
Finally, the filmmaker David Cronenberg considered it a privilege to work with him. “You don’t just get a marvellous actor, you get an entire production team: you get a writer, a set dresser, a props acquiring person, a cinematographer… I think he would perform some group duties as well if you asked him to. He is so knowledgeable about every aspect of filmmaking, and he is so helpful and collaborative, and he does his collaborating in such an incredibly sweet and gentle and humane way, that it’s just a blessing to have Viggo on your set. And that’s one of the reasons that I think this award is so appropriate”, said the Canadian moviemaker, who directed him in History of Violence (2005), Eastern Promises (2007) and A Dangerous Method (2011).
His friend, Agustín Díaz Yanes, who directed him in Alatriste (2006), had the honour of presenting him with the Donostia Award. However, before taking the floor, Real Sociedad footballer Asier Illaramendi sprung yet another surprise by giving Viggo the gift of two shirts: one from the local San Sebastian club and another from that of San Lorenzo.