Spanish film festival hit by Basque general strike

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Movie screenings were canceled and souvenir stands closed at the San Sebastian film festival Wednesday due to a general strike in Spain's Basque Country against goverment austerity measures.

Only seven movies will be shown compared to about 70 on other days of the festival, one of Europe's top international film gatherings.

Only the festival's base in the city's seaside Kursaal centre was open for screenings. All other venues were shut.

Among the movies that managed to be screened were Chinese director Emily Tang's latest film "All Apologies" and Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi's "Rhino Season" which stars Monica Bellucci, who was in attendance.

Small picket lines were set up near the red carpet used by stars to enter the Kursaal centre.

Festival souvenir stands were closed as were most shops in San Sebastian in response to a call for a general strike in the Basque Country by the nationalists unions ELA and LAB.

The two unions said there was "ample" support for the strike in the private sector while the response in the public sector was "generalised".

But the region's business association, Confebask, put the participation in the private sector at just 20 percent.

It said this was the lowest participation rate of any general strike ever held in the Basque Country, calling it a "setback" for the unions.

A young protester was injured in Bilbao when police dispersed a group of striking workers, the Basque government's deputy interior minister, Miguel Buen, said.

Spain's central government is set to pass an austere 2013 budget with 39 billion euros ($50 billion) in spending cuts and tax increases on Thursday as it tried to fend off the need for a full-blown financial bailout.

The measures will come on top of tens of billions of earlier efforts to lower the deficit and fix Spain's finances.

© 2012 AFP

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