The sci-fi shockmeister, whose films include “The Fly”, “Dead Ringers” and “Crash”, received the honorary Donostia award at a gala in the northern Spanish city.
Earlier on Wednesday, the 79-year-old — whose latest film “Crimes of the Future” is a dystopian tale about a future where people undergo surgical alterations for the sake of art and sexual pleasure – said his work was not about seeking to push spectators to the limits but to push himself.
“It’s like I go on a creative journey exploring myself, my relationship with the world. I invent things and see how it feels… do they reveal some truth, something interesting, something entertaining,” he told reporters at the festival.
Watch David Cronenberg’s award speech below (starts around minute 12):
“And then I say to the audience: this is something I imagined, see what you think. So I’m not really trying to push the audience, I’m really pushing myself.”
When the film, starring Kristen Stewart, Lea Seydoux and Viggo Mortensen, premiered at Cannes in May, it divided the audience, sending many queasy viewers running for the exits but also winning a seven-minute standing ovation.
It will be screened later on Wednesday in San Sebastián.
‘The attraction of the forbidden’
“The appeal of art is to the unconscious, to the parts of ourselves that are still primitive and destructive, so in that way, we as artists are exploring those things that are hidden, that are forbidden, that are not to be acted upon in society, but still need to be understood, and to be expressed,” Cronenberg said.
“The attraction of cinema has always been what is forbidden, whether it’s as simple as sex in a time of repression, when sex was not to be shown on the screen, to other more obscure kinds of impulses like the ones that you might see in ‘Crimes of the Future’,” he said.
Winning the Donostia award was an encouragement to keep making films, he said.
“I used to think if you got an award for your whole career, they were basically saying enough, stop making films but I now realise it’s really to say: keep making films,” he said.
“So I hope to commit more crimes in the future by making more films.”
He said his next project was a film called “The Shrouds” starring Seydoux and Vincent Cassel which would begin shooting in Toronto in spring.
“It’s a very personal project for me. People who know me will know what parts of it are autobiographical,” he said.
Earlier this week, French actress Juliette Binoche was also honoured with a Donostia award for her acting career.