San Sebastian film festival says strapped for cash

16th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain's cash-strapped San Sebastian film festival is struggling to invite big stars and needs up to three million euros ($4 million) more, its new chief said Friday.

Jose Luis Rebordinos, who is running the Spanish-speaking world's oldest and most prestigious film festival for the first time this year, said money was tight.

Sponsorship income had climbed by just over 300,000 euros this year, boosting an overall budget of more than seven million euros, he said in an interview with AFP.

The number of stars at the September 16-24 festival was up, too, he said, and the extra money would go on travel and hotels.

"Of course the crisis affects us but we have to fight to get more money because this festival needs a bit more money. So we have to look for sponsors, we will have to see what we can do," Rebordinos said.

The tight budget had no impact when selecting films, he said.

But "it influences you when it comes to bringing people in -- people from the films who get noticed as much as people from the industry," the festival director said.

Both the stars who give the festival publicity and industry workers such as distributors were important to the festival, he said.

"Bringing these people means a lot of money and that is the problem for San Sebastian -- that we need an extra two, three million euros to be able to operate comfortably, to be able to invite a lot of people and bring everything possible," Rebordinos said.

"We cannot do that at the moment, we have to really weigh the invitations because if suddenly, like this year, a lot of people say yes then we could have a budget problem."

San Sebastian is a "good festival," he said, but it could only allow itself two or three big stars for the festival and then a lot of others from the cinema industry.

Glenn Close, 64, one of Hollywood's most feted actresses, will receive a lifetime achievement award at the festival and present her latest film, "Albert Nobbs", set in 19th century Ireland, in which she plays a woman who disguises herself as a man to get a job in a hotel.

The Donostia Award has been given each year since 1986. Past recipients include Gregory Peck, Bette Davis, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Richard Gere and Woody Allen. Last year's winner was Julia Roberts.

Others attending include French actress Catherine Deneuve who will join a retrospective of the work of Jacques Demy.

Japanese, South Korean and Chinese works are among the 16 films in the official selection vying for the Golden Shell.

American film and stage actress Frances McDormand, who won an Academy Award for "Fargo", will chair the official selection jury at the 59th edition of the festival.

© 2011 AFP

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