Julia Roberts to be honoured at San Sebastian film festival

14th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

US actress Julia Roberts will receive a lifetime achievement award at the San Sebastian film festival which gets underway Friday in Spain with 15 movies in competition for the best movie award.

The 42-year-old "Pretty Woman" star will collect an honorary "Donostia" -- which means San Sebastian in the Basque language -- on Monday, the fourth day of the nine-day festival.

Roberts, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2001 for her role as a trash-talking environmental crusader in "Erin Brockovich", will present her latest film "Eat Pray Love" that day alongside Spanish co-star Javier Bardem.

"She has not limited herself to playing the beautiful girl, she has taken risks, she has made movies that break with the image of a romantic comedy to play mature roles like Erin Brockovich," said festival director Mikel Olaciregui.

Past recipients of the award include Meryl Streep, Richard Gere and Woody Allen.

"Eat Pray Love", based on Elizabeth Gilbert's hit travel memoir of the same name, will be screened out of competition at the festival, the oldest and most prestigious event of its kind in the Spanish speaking world.

Among the movies in the race for the festival's Golden Shell for best film is British director Peter Mullan's "Neds", a gritty look at gang culture in 1970s Glasgow.

Japanese director Naomi Kawase's "Genpin", a feature documentary about natural childbirth, and US director John Sayles' "Amigo" set during the American and Spanish occupation of the Philippines, are also in the running.

Serbian filmmaker Goran Paskaljevic, whose films include "Cabaret Balkan" and "Beach Guard in Wintertime", will chair the jury.

A favorite at Spanish festivals, his "Midwinter Night's Dream" won San Sebastian's Special Jury Prize in 2004.

The jury also includes two of Latin America's most prominent young directors, Peru's Claudia Llosa, whose "The Milk of Sorrow" won Berlin's Golden Bear in 2009 and Argentina's Pablo Trapero, who competed at Cannes with "Leonera."

Renowned Mexican director Felipe Cazals's "Chicogrande", which depicts the exploits of Mexican rebel Pancho Villa, will open the 58th edition of the festival.

Norwegian director Bent Hamer's latest film "Home for Christmas" about the struggle faced by several people in a small town in Norway to make it home for the holidays through the snow, is one of seven films that will have its European debut at the festival.

Both "Chicogrande" and "Home for Christmas" are in the running for the best film award.

A total of 193 films will be screened at the festival, which will feature a retrospective honouring the work of "Dirty Harry" director Don Siegel.

This year's thematic retrospective -- New Paths of Nonfiction -- will showcase the wealth of documentaries from around the world in the past decade.

Olaciregui will be stepping down as director of the festival after ten years at the helm of the event.

"What I have tried to do these years is ensure that the festival is a useful platform for the industry because, while you can draw a huge crowd to a festival, if it does not manage to be a useful place for a premier, for the search for new directors and movies, you have little future," he said.

Last year's Golden Shell for best film went to Chinese director Lu Chuan's account of the Japanese occupation of Nanjing in 1937, "City of Life and Death."

© 2010 AFP

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