Spanish film festival opens with dose of terror, comedy

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Spain's San Sebastian international film festival opens Friday supplying a dose of terror and comedy, with a clutch of Asian films in the running for top prize.

The September 16-24 festival, the oldest and most prestigious in the Spanish-speaking world, boasts some big talent despite being trimmed by a day since 2009 because the economic crisis has cut sponsorship money.

Japanese, South Korean and Chinese works are among the 16 films in the official selection vying for the Golden Shell in this coastal city of Spain's northern Basque Country.

Tokyo-born director Hirokazu Koreeda, one of the top names in Japanese cinema, enters his film "Kiseki" (I wish), about a young boy separated from his brother by their parents' divorce, who dreams of a miracle after a bullet-train line is completed between their mother's and father's home cities.

From China, formidable director Wang Xiaoshuai's "11 Flowers" is another film centred on a young boy -- this time an 11-year-old confronted with a wounded runaway murderer who asks for his help.

Rounding out the Asian competitors, renowned South Korean director Kim Ki-duk's terror film "Amen" follows a woman who seeks her boyfriend across Europe but is raped and robbed, then pursued by her attacker.

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.

The festival culminates with the world premiere of "Intouchables", an out-of-competition comedy about a friendship beween a millionaire tetraplegic and his ex-convict carer, written and directed by French duo Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache.

Glenn Close, 64, one of Hollywood's most feted actresses, will receive a lifetime achievement award 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.

She will receive the festival's Donostia Award for her film career on September 18.

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.

© 2011 AFP

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