Aitana Sánchez-Gijón (Rome, 1968) is one of the most charismatic performers in the Spanish audiovisual industry. With an unquestionable international trajectory and prestige, throughout her career she has worked all over Europe, Latin America, and even in Hollywood. Her artistic debut was in theater and television, but it was with Fernando Colomo’s film Bajarse al Moro (1989) that she attracted all the attention. Her first leading role came with Pedro de la Sota’s Vientos de Cólera.
During the 1990s, she garnered widespread critical acclaim and was celebrated by audiences with Manuel Gómez Pereira’s Mouth to Mouth, Pilar Miró’s The Bird of Happiness, Vicente Aranda’s Jealousy, and The Chambermaid on the Titanic and Volaverunt by Bigas Luna. For the latter role, she received the Silver Shell for Best Actress at the San Sebastián Film Festival. Established as one of the great stars of the Iberian scene, Hollywood would knock on her door with the film A Walk in the Clouds by Alfonso Arau, in which she shared the screen with Keanu Reeves.
Her filmography includes works by José María Forqué, Fernando Fernán Gómez, Gonzalo Suárez, Imanol Uribe, Jaime Chávarri, Adolfo Aristarain, Juan José Campanella, Luis Puenzo, Gabrielle Salvatores, Silvio Muccino, and Pedro Almodóvar, and she has shared scenes with actors such as Olivier Martínez, Gary Oldman, Christian Bale, Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Denis Leary, Terence Stamp, and Virginie Ledoyen.
The theater, another of her passions, has brought her important successes such as Miguel Narros’ A Puerta Cerrada and Mario Gas’ Cat on a Hot Ton Roof and The Maids. She has played several times with Mario Vargas Llosa in The Arabian Nights, Odysseus and Penelope, La Verdad de las Mentiras, and Los Cuentos de la Peste, directed by Joan Ollé. In addition, she triumphed with the staging of Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, directed by Tamzin Townsend, and shortly thereafter in the play Santo, performed at Teatro Español and directed by Ernesto Caballero.
She is also recognized for her work in television. She stood out in her leading role in the adaptation of Leopoldo Alas Clarín’s novel La Regenta, directed by Fernando Méndez-Leite, bringing to life a tormented Ana Ozores. In 2010, she starred in La Viuda Valenciana,” an adaptation of the play by Lope de Vega, and three years later, she participated in the series Velvet as Doña Blanca. In 2019, she joined the cast of the TVE series Estoy Vivo.
In 1998, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón became the first woman to hold the position of President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Spain, a position she held until 2000.
Throughout her career, she has received many awards and nominations, but for her starring performance in “Medea,” she received numerous distinctions throughout the year 2015, such as the CERES Award for Best Actress, the Fotogramas de Plata Award, the Valle-Inclán Award, the Ercilla Theater Award, and the MAX Award for Performing Arts. In the same year, she was awarded the Gold Medal by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Spain, while in 2022 she was awarded the distinction of Honorary Academician of the Academy of Performing Arts of Spain.
The Luis Buñuel Award honours a career and a professional life in the world of cinema. It was established in 1998 gathering the feelings of the Management Committee, after the festival held several ceremonies in Buñuel’s honour and following the approval of his sons Juan Luis and Rafael.
The initial trophy was created by the renowned artist from Huesca Eduardo Cajal, produced in bronze and detachable. It represented the threshold of a door and, according to the author, was inspired by the feature film The Exterminating Angel.
Nine years afterwards, the image of the trophy was changed, concretely in the 34th edition, by the artist from Zaragoza Fernando Sinaga. It was a spread out fan that, according to the author, represented at the same time ‘seduction’ and the idea of ‘the secret and the occult’.
In the 42nd edition, a new trophy was requested to Huesca born artist Antonio Santos by the new direction. The new award, christened as The Chorus Girl, broke with the traditional trophy concept. The work, designed by Huesca born artist Antonio Santos, consisted of different parts that make up the figure of a chorus girl.
Since 2020, the designer of the trophy is Isidro Ferrer, Design National Award winner, a Madrid-born artist based in Huesca. The trophy portraits an ant, that is what the authors says: “Luis Buñuel’s entomological fondness and training is known, also his inclination to introduce several arthropods in his films”. The list that feeds his particular zoo is extensive: spiders, scorpions, crabs, butterflies, bees, flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, cockroaches, neuropterans, beetles. This varied fauna that sprinkles his extensive filmography holds symbolic significance. One of the most iconic scenes that best define this Buñuelian drive for insects might be that of the ants of his first movie An Andalusian Dog, from which the inspiration for this trophy-homage springs.
Among the most outstanding personalities who have received this award, there can be found José Luis Borau (1998), Michel Piccoli (1999), Silvia Pinal (2000), Patrice Leconte (2001), Aki Kaurismaki (2002), Jerzy Kawalerowicz (2003), Jean Troell (2004), André Techiné (2005), Pedro Armendáriz Jr. (2006), Vittorio y Paolo Taviani (2007), Bertrand Tavernier (2008), Theo Angelopoulos (2009), Ángela Molina (2010), Elías Querejeta (2011), Stephen Fears (2012), Adolpho Arrietta (2013), Carlos Saura (2014), Laurent Cantet (2015), Jean Claude Carrière (2016), Costa Gavras and Alex de la Iglesia (2017), José Sacristán (2018), Marisa Paredes (2019), Isabel Coixet (2020), Gonzalo Suárez (2021) and Terry Gilliam (2022).