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Blogging from San Sebastian September 22-30, 2023

Coverage Recap of 61st edition. Photo gallery 2013 Recap of 63rd edition, video I Recap of 64th edition, video I Recap of 65th edition, video / Recap of 66th edition /Recap of 68th edition, video



San Sebastian in full gear, after a glamorous opening night


Marion Cotillard received on the festival opening (Sep 17) the first of the two Donostia Awards to be presented at San Sebastian Festival’s 69th edition.

Penélope Cruz presented the honorary award to the French actress during the opening gala with the theme of the hugs interrupted by the pandemic, and which also served to remember those who have recently left us, such as the filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier and the former Festival director, Luis Gasca.

“I didn’t expect it, I love this woman, I love her very much”, said Cotillard, surprised to receive the Donostia Award from Penélope Cruz. Precisely, when Cruz received French cinema’s Honorary César in 2018, it was Cotillard, accompanied by the filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, who presented her with the accolade.

Cotillard, who has worked under the orders of filmmakers like Michael Mann, Christopher Nolan, Woody Allen, the Dardenne brothers, Nicole Garcia and Leos Carax, has featured in casts alongside many co-stars, including the self-same Penélope Cruz, Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Louis Garrel, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Adam Driver and Johnny Depp, who will receive the second Donostia Award of the 69th edition this Wednesday.

The actress was moved to receive the award in recognition of a career strewn with successes, such as the Academy Award for her performance as Edith Piaf in La Môme / La Vie en Rose (Olivier Dahan, 2007). Marion Cotillard, whose years in the profession have seen her step into the shoes of a wide range of characters marked by fragility, mystery and strength, debuts as a producer with the documentary Bigger Than Us, directed by Flore Vasseur. The film follows several young activists from all over the world fighting climate change and migration crises, amongst other.

“Thanks to the San Sebastian Festival for accompanying me in this new phase of my cinematographic journey”, said Cotillard about the film that will premiere tomorrow at the Teatro Victoria Eugenia and which is about the "determination" of human beings "acting for a brighter future”.

Music, dance and numerous tributes

Cayetana Guillén Cuervo, Anne Igartiburu and Elena Irureta hosted a function directed, for the second year running, by the dancer and choreographer Jon Maya. Conducting the musical aspect was Luis Mari Moreno Urretavizcaya Pirata, with performances by the group Zea Mays, whose lead singer Aiora Renteria had the stellar collaboration of Rozalén on the song Negua joan da ta (Because Winter has Gone), and the participation of Mastodonte, Asier Etxeandia’s musical project. The original set was composed of several luminous cube-shaped structures and a colouristic lighting design matching the brushstrokes of the Festival posters.

Last year, the distance driven between us by the pandemic was the focal point of the gala, while this year the central idea is that of the hugs of which we have been deprived for months. “We are flesh and blood beings with flesh and blood yearnings. That’s why we have and continue to hope that the interminable separations of these months end in a meeting. Let’s take a positive approach and think of it like this: the longer we wait, the more exciting those hugs will be,” says the script written once again by Harkaitz Cano.

The idea of the hug is also reflected in one of the videos made for the gala by Morgancrea, the production company behind the Festival TV channel. Other audiovisual pieces were those paying tribute to Bertrand Tavernier, who left us this year, and whose figure was personally commented upon by the director of the Festival de Cannes and of the Institut Lumière, Thierry Frémaux, and the one illustrating the tribute to the similarly deceased Luis Gasca, former director of the San Sebastian Festival and a strong forerunner in studying popular culture, as well as a lover of genre movies. Precisely, the theme of Gasca’s video was the fantasy cinema which has recently enjoyed a remarkable revamp, showing images from films in that genre including some of those programmed this year at the Festival and classics screened at earlier editions such as: Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975), Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977) and Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979), debut movie of Sigourney Weaver, the subject of this year’s official poster.

The gala also served to pay tribute to the TVE programme Días de cine, which celebrates its three decades on the air this year, and included presentation of the FIPRESCI Grand Prix to Nomadland (Chloé Zhao, 2020), winner of last year’s Academy Award for Best Film following its screening in Perlak. The movie opening the same section this edition is the Argentinian production Competencia oficial Official Competition, presented in the Kursaal by one of its leading characters, Oscar Martínez.  

The 69th edition of the San Sebastian Festival was officially opened with the screening of Yi miao zhong One Second, the film with which Zhang Yimou competes for the first time for the Golden Shell won in 2020 by Dea Kulumbegashvili, president of this year’s official jury. Unable to travel to San Sebastian for work reasons, the Chinese filmmaker sent a video in which he greets the audience. “The film recalls part of his childhood and the years when going to the cinema was a communal "party". "Recently, due to the pandemic, we have been unable to watch films together. That's why One Second is even more touching today", he said.

Shown out of competition prior to the screening of Yimou’s feature film, was Rosa rosae. La Guerra Civil Rosa rosae. A Spanish War Elegy, a short film directed by Carlos Saura, one of the great all-time masters of Spanish cinema to whom the Festival once again pays homage years after presenting him with an honorary Golden Shell in 2007. 

From today and until Saturday 25, the Festival will show 184 titles including features, shorts, medium-length films and series amounting to 490 screenings, not to mention a sizeable number of industry activities.



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About SanSebastian

Barreda de Biurrun Inés

Blogging from the 71th San Sebastian Film Festival
Reporting by Inés Barreda de Biurrun, Bruno Chatelin and Juncal de la Fuente.

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