Sunday, September 27, 2009

Spanish actor with Down syndrome wins top acting award

From AFP:

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain — A Spanish actor with Down's syndrome, Pablo Pineda (pictured), picked up the best actor prize at the San Sebastian film festival on Saturday for his touching portrayal of a man with the disability.

In the movie "Yo, Tambien" ("Me Too") Pineda plays a 34-year-old man with Down's syndrome who earns a university degree and then falls in love with a colleague at work.

Pineda's character, Daniel Sanz from Seville, is the only person with Down's syndrome to obtain a university diploma in Europe, and the film tells the story of him starting out in his first job in regional social services.

The character's story mirrors the actor's own life. Pineda has a university degree in special education and he gives a convincing and moving portrayal of Sanz as he adapts to the demands of his first job.

To play Sanz with a range of emotions from joy to disappointment and sadness "called for a lot of introspection, I had to relive some very difficult moments," said Pineda after the feature-length film by directors Antonio Naharro and Alvaro Pastor was screened at the festival.

Pineda's co-star Lola Duenas, who plays the work colleague that his character falls in love with, also captured the spotlight at the festival in northern Spain, winning the best actress award.

In 1996, Belgian actor Pascal Duquenne was awarded best actor at the Cannes film festival along with Daniel Auteuil for their roles as a duo in the film "Le huitieme jour" ("The Eighth Day").

Deaf American actress Marlee Matlin meanwhile won an Academy Award in 1986 for her portrayal of a deaf woman in "Children of a Lesser God".