British film 'Neds' wins top prize at San Sebastian festival

Scottish actor and director Peter Mullan won top honours on Saturday at the San Sebastian film festival in northern Spain with a coming-of-age tale set in 1970s Glasgow.

The jury, headed by Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic, awarded the Golden Shell to Mullan's film "Neds".

Billed as "the story of a young man's journey from prize-winning schoolboy to knife-carrying teenager", the film also won young Scottish newcomer Conor McCarron the best actor award.

"Neds", which Mullan also wrote, is a derogatory Scottish term (Non-Educated Delinquents). The film also explores the theme of the Scottish city's hard-man culture.

It is the second major award for Mullan as a director.

In 2002, he won the Venice festival's Golden Lion for "The Magdalene Sisters" in 2002, about the abuse of young women sent to Catholic-run asylums in 1960s Ireland - a film that also attracted fierce condemnation from the Vatican.

Mullan first came to notice as an actor, working with directors such Danny Boyle, in "Shallow Grave" and "Trainspotting" and with radical English director Ken Loach.

His first film with Loach was in "Riff Raff" in 1991 but it was in the title role of "My Name is Joe" that he came to international prominence, winning the best actor award at Cannes in 1998.

The 58th edition of the San Sebastian festival awarded Franco-Chilean filmmaker Raoul Ruiz the best director prize for his four-hour movie "Misterios de Lisboa", inspired by the work of Portuguese writer Camilo Castelo Branco.

The 69-year-old director, who is recovering from cancer and an operation, received a lifetime achievement award in 1997 at the Berlin film festival.

"Misterios de Lisboa" (Mysteries of Lisbon") explores the loves and jealousies of a host of characters all connected to a young orphan and boarder in a Lisbon religious school.

Spain's Nora Navas won the best actress prize for her part in "Pa negre" ("Black Bread"), a drama by Catalan director Agusti Villaronga set during the Spanish civil war of 1936-39.

The jury prize when to Spanish film "Elisa K", a film about child sexual abuse by the Catalan directors Judith Colell and Jordi Cadena.

Earlier in the week Spanish actor Javier Bardem awarded 42-year-old American actress Julia Roberts, his co-star in "Eat Pray Love" which was showing out of competition, with the Donostia prize for her film career.

A total of 15 films were in official competition this year. In 2009 the top prize went to the controversial "City of Life and Death" by Chinese filmmaker Lu Chuan on atrocities committed during the Japanese invasion of China in 1937.

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