David Cronenberg: «Long live criminal cinema!»

“Long live criminal cinema!”, he proclaimed tonight David Cronenberg shortly after collecting the Donostia Award from the hands of the director Gaspar Noé. The Canadian director, grateful for his award, has assured that he interprets it “like an encouragement” to continue making movies. That dangerous, strange cinema, so characteristic and without a doubt subversive that the Zinemaldia wanted to reward on its 70th anniversary.

One of his fetish actors, but above all a great friend, Viggo MortensenDonostia Award in 2020, has sent a video to the director congratulating him and reminding him that he is one of the greatest, and after the gala it has been screened ‘Crimes of the Future’.

Accepting his award, Cronenberg said: “I have often thought that art is a crime in the sense that it is subversive of the norm and addresses aspects of our human nature that are difficult, violent (…)”. And he added that “Art renders a service to civilization by giving a mode of expression to these things that are necessary for us to understand, to continue to have a civil society on earth. I think that even now, more than ever, the crime of art is necessary given the events that have happened in recent years. Therefore, I would say that… Long live criminal cinema!”

David Cronenberg. Photo: Santiago Farizo

“The cinema kidnapped me”

Hours before, at a press conference, Cronenberg stated that I was going for a novelistIn fact, his father was a writer, and he published his first novel when he was 20 years old. “But I was kidnapped by the cinema,” he added and there has only been a second one in recent years. However he has said that he still considers himself a novelist. “If I wrote a script that was extremely unproduceable or uncommercial, I’d turn it into a novel.”

Regarding the activity of directing, he has stated that considers it “pleasant”and this is really what this veteran conveys, who in person is far removed from the restlessness that his films provoke.

Questioned about the freedom that his works breathe and about possible pressures you may have suffered In his race to make more commercial films, Cronenberg has made it clear: “I started out with two non-commercial films, Stereo (1969) and Crimes of the Future (1970), and I don’t live in Hollywood. If I don’t do anything, nobody cares.”

great filmography

Master of biological horror, disturbing atmospheres and a universe as personal as it is non-transferable, Cronenberg has directed about twenty feature films among which works that have become classics of genres such as science fiction, horror, psychological drama or thriller stand out. He is also the author of numerous works for television.

In 2004 the San Sebastian Festival screened Crash (1996) and three years later Cronenberg visited San Sebastián for the first and only time to date to open the Official Section in competition with Eastern Promises (Eastern Promises, 2007).

The Canadian has joined the list of directors who have also received the Donostia Award, including Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, Oliver Stone, Agnès Varda, Hirokazu Koreeda and Costa-Gavras.

Son of a pianist and a writer, David Cronenberg grew up among books and comics that cemented his interest in culture and film. Self-taught, his first works were short films such as Transfer (1966) and From the Drain (1967), which were followed by his first experimental feature films, Stereo (1969) and Crimes of the Future (1970), whose title coincides with the of his most recent film. In these early works one could already trace the features of a filmography marked by themes such as illnessviolence, sex, the body or scientific experimentation.

The latter is very present in the first stage of his workfor example, in Shivers (They came from within…, 1975), Rabid (Rabia, 1977) or The Brood (Chromosome 3, 1979), in which murderous parasites, violent plagues and failed therapies to treat psychopaths coexist.

He also signed commissions such as Fast Company (1979), a film about car racing, although the titles that forged his prestige as an author within the most radical genre cinema were scanners (1981), about a group of people with deadly mental powers, and videodrome (1983), one of the pinnacles of New Flesh aesthetics.

After narrating in The Fly (1986) the suffocating story of a scientist who transforms into an insect, featured Jeremy Irons to star in two of his next films: Dead Ringers (Inseparable, 1988), in which the actor doubled to play tormented twin gynecologists, and M. Butterfly (1993), the ambiguous romance between a mysterious opera diva and a French diplomat in 1960s China.

Cronenberg has brought to the screen novels by such iconic writers as Stephen King -The Dead Zone (the dead zone1983)-, William Burroughs -The Naked Lunch (the naked lunch1991), perhaps his greatest cult work- and JG Ballard, whom he adapted in Crash (1996), which analyzed the sexual arousal of various characters after suffering car accidents and which won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

After entering virtual reality with eXistenZ (1999) and look into the abysses of mental illness in Spider (2002), the Canadian filmmaker inaugurated a stage in his filmography in which the fantastic ceased to be the main ingredient in his films, until now, 20 years later, he has just released Crimes of the Future (2022), a review or compendium of his old obsessions.

This last film supposes his fourth collaboration with actor Viggo Mortensenwith whom he first shot A History of Violence (A history of violence, 2005), a thriller about a man marked by an intriguing past. The other films are Eastern Promises (eastern promises2007), a dive into London’s Russian mob hell, and A Dangerous Method (A dangerous method, 2011), in which Mortensen played Sigmund Freud. The last two titles prior to Crimes of the Future were cosmopolitan (2012), adaptation of the novel by Don DeLillo, and Maps to the Stars (2014), an acid reflection on fame.

In both works he participated Robert Pattinsonone of the latest to join the extensive list of stars with whom David Cronenberg has worked throughout his long career, including, among others, Juliette Binoche -another of this edition’s Donostia Awards-, Gabriel Byrne, Willem Dafoe, Geena Davis, Michael Fassbender, Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Goldblum, etc.

David Cronenberg: «Long live criminal cinema!»