The San Sebastian Film Festival -- at 59 years old, Spain's #1 film festival event -- has a seashell for a logo, and seems pretty much to be obsessed with three main things: American movie stars, Spanish/Latino films, and food. If there's ever a festival that is obviously "in the family" for MIFF, this is the one.
The layout of the festival reminds me of Cannes -- big temple of cinema built right on the beach, etc. -- but the weather kinda bites. Not great for visitors but excellent for the citizens. What better thing to brighten up a dreary month than a glamorous film festival? The theaters are packed, because nobody wants to be outside.
The first weekend was lit up with the presence of Clive Owen, on hand to
open the festival with a starring role in the new thriller Intruders; Frances McDormand, who is the president of the main Competition jury;
and Glenn Close, who received her first-ever Career Achievement Award. The festival even has a staggering 40-film retrospective dedicated to
the "American Way of Death," celebrating/examining great film noir films
from the past 20 years. The retro includes films like Se7en, The
Usual Suspects,and Reservoir Dogs, and the festival plays each film
an average three times over the 10 days.
San Sebastian also has three sections for Spanish/Latino films, and even
then can't contain them all. Besides the "Made in Spain" survey of the
past year's films (eclectically chosen), there's a section just for
Basque films, and a Horizontes Latino competition section (much like
MIFF's own Iberoamerican Competition). But Spanish and Latino films
also crop up in the Festival's main Competition and New Directors
programs, as well.
The Horizontes Latino section is dominated by Mexico and Chile this year
(Chile in particular is having an incredible year). Thirteen films are
vying for the €35,000 top prize, including Colombia's All Your Dead
Ones by Carlos Moreno, which competed in MIFF's Ibero competition
earlier this year. Film Fiend always likes to play the
If-I-Was-On-The-Jury game, dangerous turf indeed!
All the films are
worthy, but I think Sebastian Cordero's Pescador must certainly be in
the top running. The 4th feature film from the man who put modern
Ecuadorian cinema on the map with Ratas, Ratones, Rateros and Cronicas is back with a beautifully shot, uncharacteristically soulful
tale of Blanquito, a 30-year-old fisherman who accidentally falls into
the drug trade. Blanquito, played by Andres Crespo, has an
"international look," in his own estimation.
New this year in San Sebastian is the "Culinary Zinema: Cinema and
Gastronomy" section, which boasts the tagline: "7 films, 7 themes, 7
restaurants, 7 chefs". The new section seems absolutely inevitable,
or as the program book states, virtually an "obligation." All the
tourist info for San Sebastian proudly touts the fact that its
restaurants have the highest concentration of Michelin stars per square
kilometer, a fact that no one in their right mind would argue.
The festival continues today and tomorrow with industry-only screenings
of six new works-in-progress in the Latin American development program
known as Cine en Construccion. Among the brave filmmakers unveiling her
rough cut for prospective investors, buyers and programmers is Marialy
Rivas from Chile, who won the $2,500 University of Miami Short Film
Award at MIFF this past March for her powerful short "Blokes."
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time, Marialy emailed an acceptance speech from the set of her first
feature film, Young and Wild (Joven y Alocada), which is now in
post-production and scheduled for industry unveiling tomorrow.