(dpa) - Spain's Cinema Academy was Monday seen as having staged a surprise by awarding the country's top film prize to a little-known independent movie, La Soledad (Loneliness) by Catalan director Jaime Rosales, 37.
The Goya Awards, Spain's equivalent of the Oscars, were presented at a glitzy ceremony in Madrid overnight.
La Soledad took the awards for best movie, best director and best new actor for Jose Luis Torrijo.
The movie, which uses an original system of a divided screen, tells the story of a separated mother and of a widow struggling to take control over their lives.
La Soledad, which had not been popular among the public, beat favourites such as the blockbuster El Orphanato (The Orphanage).
The thriller by Juan Antonio Bayona nevertheless took seven Goyas, including those for best new director, best original script and best special effects.
Maribel Verdu won best actress award for her role in Siete Mesas de Billar Frances (Seven Tables of French Billiards) by Gracia Querejeta, a story on two women who redo their lives by relaunching a billiards salon.
Alberto San Juan took best actor award for his role in Bajo las Estrellas (Under the Stars) by Felix Viscarret, a story on the human relationships of a waiter hoping to become jazz musician.
XXY by Argentine director Lucia Puenzo was elected the best Latin American movie. The lifetime achievement award went to Spanish veteran actor Alfredo Landa.
La Soledad was described as a reflection on love and lack of it, family, lack of communication, on how big and small tragedies mark human existence, and the capacity to overcome suffering.
"This is a historic moment for Spanish cinema, because never before has such a strange and radical movie won the award," Rosales said.
The director called on the Spanish film industry to offer "original things" in the tradition of the late surrealist directors Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali.
The Goya Awards were presented for the 22nd time.