Published on : 20/09/2020 – 23:13
After Venice earlier this month, the San Sebastian International Film Festival is the second festival in the first row to brave the headwinds of the Covid-19 pandemic and to offer to the public, despite the practical and financial difficulties that this entails, to join this film festival. As Spanish director Isabel Coixet has strongly reminded us, you have to take the fog head-on.
From our special correspondent in San Sebastian,
A tribute was paid to Isabel Coixet, in the presence of the Minister of Culture Manuel Rodríguez Uribes. The Catalan director was crowned with the National Film Prize 2020, on the sidelines of the festival. In a strong speech, Isabel Coixet, who rubbed shoulders with all genres of documentary (we owe her in particular an interview with judge Baltasar Garzón) to fiction and embraced the space from Alaska to Barcelona via Berlin, New York and Tokyo, wanted to encourage young (future) filmmakers to face their own fears and the difficulties that await them. The 30,000 euros of its price are also intended for them. ” We live in an era of uncertainty little known to human history, added Isabel Coixet. For lack of certainties, embrace the fog. No choice ».
Uncertainties in particular linked to the pandemic which put the cinema down, recalled at the opening of the festival, José Luis Rebordinos, masked like all the speakers. Due to health rules (recalled in the three languages of the festival at each screening: Basque, Castilian and English), the number of spectators has been reduced to almost half depending on the halls and reservations are required. A complex and expensive hardware and IT organization that had to be put in place to make the party go off. A party to which fewer guests – filmmakers and film crews – are invited: the restrictions imposed by certain countries on people traveling to Spain have sometimes been a deterrent and directors, for example from Latin America, where the pandemic is severely rife, are less likely to have made the trip.
Fewer films but a loyal audience
Fewer films have been selected (64 fewer than in 2019, i.e. a third), there are also fewer screenings and fewer spaces for meetings and conviviality which are one of the charms of the San Sebastian festival where the audience can touch the stars like datingLatin horizons or the famous Kursaal red carpet. Several press conferences are held online and social networks are in full swing. But the public is loyal and fond of cinema since from the first day of tickets on sale, 90% have been sold. The fact that this edition can be held testifies to the fight waged so that the cinema occupies the space which it deserves and which it deserves, assures José Luis Rebordinos. At his side for the inauguration of the festival, Thierry Frémeaux, director of the Cannes festival, of which seventeen films are presented in Cannes as ADN by Maïwenn, Summer 85 by François Ozon or True mothers by Naomi Kawase. Both were already in Venice at the beginning of September, alongside other directors of major festivals for reassure about the future of cinema.
And also on the future of theatrical cinema vis-à-vis the platforms which were very successful during the confinement (a message hammered home by José Luis Rebordinos). The festival is a place where distributors do their market, an arena too, sometimes as recalled by Isabel Coixet who recounted how her first film had been crushed by the critics during her first participation in the San Sebastian festival there is thirty years old, and the torrents of tears that she had shed then.
But festivals are also and above all places of meetings, culture and education. At the opening of the festival, a tribute was paid to José «Pepe» Riba, disappeared in the spring, great “ferryman” of Hispanic and Hispano-American cinema in France, discoverer of talents and creator of meetings Spanish in Paris and the Different – The other Spanish cinema festival, which hosted Isabel Coixet in 2017. An evening dedicated to her on October 5 in Paris with the screening, a preview in France of the film A secret life (The infinite trichera) by Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga, who won multiple awards last year in San Sebastian. Another screening planned, that of a tribute film directed by the young Mexican director Lila Avilès, whom José Riba had helped a lot in his early days. Lila Avilès is also a regular at the San Sebastian festival. Stories of friendships, loyalty, transmission to brave the fog and long live the cinema.