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San Sebastian post-mortem on split prize


In my last report I got so carried away by the phenomenom of Bahman Ghobadi's second straight Golden Concha Best-Film prize, that I failed to mention that the award was an "ex-aequo" or shared award. I did, however, note that it might come in for some discussion in the post-festival press -- which, in fact, it did ---Bigtime!
The top prize was shared with Mr. Ghobadi by Martial Fougeron of France for "Mon fils à moi" (My very own son) his second feature film, a drama, for which Nathalie Baye also received the Best Actress award. Mr. Fourgeron stated that he was extremely pleased to share such a valuable prize with such an steemed director as Bahman Ghobadi. The Spanish press was, however, not quite as pleased as the beaming young Frenchman with the outcome of the prize distribution. One writer called it "The festival between Max and Matt", a reference to the career awards passed out to Max von Sydow and Matt Dillon, with the implication that the career awards were far more justifiable than the conchas for best films. There was a general feeling that the jury had too much trouble making up their minds from a selection of fiilms that was overall not very outstanding. A press favorite among the also-rans was Agnieszka Holland´s "Copying Beethoven", which, had it been chosen by the jury, would probably have elicited fewer rasberries.
"Beethoven" did however pick up a minor distinction, that of the "Circulo de Escritores Cinematograficos" (CEC) or Circle of Spanish Screen Writers.
"Little Miss Sunshine", an American film with a cast of unknowns about a family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant and taking a cross-country trip in their VW bus to promote the lass, was voted the most popular film by the unofficial public balloting.

The biggest complaint, however, concerned the lack of stars here at the 53rd edition of the festival. Sure, there were some rising actors around such as Englishman Clive Owen (Clive who? --you know, the guy from "Closers"), or Diane Kruger (you know, the actress from "Troy"), or David Hasselhoff -- David Who? --Oh, c'mon --you don't remember "Baywatch" -- to which one scribe pointed out that "if you have to explain who they are, then they´re not stars!" -- and so it went. If Travolta would have showed up for the closing film "Lonely Hearts", or even his co-star, Salma Hayek, or if Meryl Streep had put in an appearance with "The Devil Wears Prada" there might have been less grumbling. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, case by case, this was not the year for a heavy Hollywood sunshine turnout in Donostia. (Steve Buscemi was here for those who count him as a "star")

I personally had no complaints on the celestial scale. Dillon, von Sydow, and star director Oliver Stone were more than enough for this writer, who was seeing stars anyway from lack of sleep and too many hours before my flickering computer screen. Big stars, stars of the second magnitude, or no stars between all the other happenings, if I were limited to attending only one festival a year and Basta -- Donostiako Nazioarteko Zinemaldia --the San Sebastian International Film Festival would be the one. And that does wind it up from here for this year --see you again at the Kursaal by the waters of the Sea of Cantabria next year --same time, same station. Gero-arte and Augur --That's Euskara (Basque) for "seeya again, and, meanwhile, have a good one!"

Alex Deleon, Donostia

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