San Sebastian festival hit by economic crisis

17th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

The festival has been reduced from 10 days to nine as organisers have to slash the budget by EUR 600,000 and reduce the number of cocktails.

Madrid – The stars will be there but the petit fours and cocktails may be in short supply as the biggest film festival in the Spanish-speaking world gets underway this week amid cutbacks forced by the economic crisis.

Organisers of the San Sebastian festival in northern Spain on 18-26 September said they have been forced to slash the budget this year by EUR 600,000 to 7.0 million amid cutbacks in public subsidies and from sponsors.

"We have reduced the festival to nine days from 10 days and there will be fewer cocktails," said festival director Mikel Olaciregui.

"Our priority was to maintain the quality" of the films, he told AFP.

The 15 films in competition at this year's 57th edition are, as usual, a varied selection from international directors.

The festival opens on Friday with Canadian director Atom Egoyan's psychological drama Chloe, starring Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore.

Another north American film, Get Low by first-time feature director Aaron Schneider and starring Robert Duvall and Bill Murray, will also be among those vying for the top Golden Shell award.

French director Bruno Dumont, who has twice won the Cannes Grand Jury Prize, will also be competing with Hadewijch.

Two other top French filmmakers, Francois Ozon and Christophe Honore, will also be showing their latest works -- Le Refuge and Making Plans for Lena.

Asia is represented by Chinese director Lu Chuan's City of Life and Death, Yeong-do Da Ri (I Came From Busan) by South Korea's Jeon Soo-il, and Iran's Mohammad Rasoulof with Keshtzarhaye sepid (The White Meadows).

Australian filmmaker Ana Kokkinos will present her third feature Blessed, while Turkey's Pelin Esmer will show 10 to 11, for which she is also up for the "new directors" award and Germany's Matthias Glasner is there with This is Love.

Three films from Spain and one from Argentina complete the lineup.

"And there will also be glamour," said Olaciregui, as Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarentino will be there for the Spanish premiere of the film Inglourious Basterds.

Also on the red carpet will be Australian actress Naomi Watts, who stars in Mother and child by Colombia's Rodrigo Garcia, which will be shown out of competition.

Veteran British actor Ian McKellen, the star of The Lord of the Rings saga, will receive a lifetime achievement award.

Last year's Golden Shell for best film went to Turkish director Yesim Ustaoglu's film Pandora's Box.

Olaciregui said he hopes that by 2010 the economic climate will have improved enough for the festival "to return to its traditional format of 10 days."

AFP / Expatica

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