Tuesday, August 14, 2012

60th San Sebastian International Film Festival News

This year the fest reaches a milestone with the celebration of the 60th edition, making it what seems to be the oldest (*) while being the most prestigious festival in the Spanish-speaking world. The fest is the fourth largest in Europe after Venice, Cannes and Berlin.

To honor their anniversary here is a brief fest history.

This year the Festival will be celebrating its 60th consecutive edition with the same enthusiasm felt the day it first saw the light on September 21st 1953. Conceived as an International Film Week for the purpose of screening and marketing films, it was not long before the FIAPF (Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films) or IFFPA in English, granted it B status (non-competitive), thanks to the success of its first edition. A year later it was called the International Film Festival, and in 1955 the IFFPA recognized the festival as competitive, specializing in color films. In other words, it could now grant official prizes. This marked the emergence of the "Concha", or shell - at the time only awarded in silver - determined by an international jury.

In 1957 the festival was granted "A" status and the Shell awarded in the main categories turned to gold. The festival symbols became increasingly recognizable, as did the direction the festival was aiming for and still strives for to this day. That is, a tendency towards liberalization, shying away from the corseted censorship of the past, still alive today. The festival's primordial role is to serve as a showcase for each year's most disquieting and innovative films.

Today, the Company FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE CINE DE DONOSTIA-SAN SEBASTIÁN is made up in equal parts of the City Council of Donostia-San Sebastian, the Basque Government, the Gipuzkoa Regional Government and the Ministry of Culture, and the chairmanship is held by the Mayor of Donostia-San Sebastian, Mr. Juan Karlos Izagirre. In 2011 José Luis Rebordinos became the director of the festival after being a member of its Management Committee for the previous 15 years.

The 2012 Edition

The festival will run from September 21 to 29 and some films have been already announced but will post lineup when all films are published at the fest official site. While we wait, let's review what festival sections are all about.

Official Selection
A selection of feature films produced worldwide over the year, not yet screened, that meet the conditions established by the FIAPF for festivals classified as “competitive non-specialized”.

New Directors
An international competition for first and second works by their directors. All are examples of the most recent in not-yet-released film production worldwide.

An open, heterogeneous section showcasing the biggest and best movies of the year; has two sections.
Zabaltegi Pearls
A selection of the year’s biggest films including some already presented at other festivals.
Zabaltegi Specials
A hugely varied selection of proposals not bound by format, genre or length, where strong cinematic interest prevails.

Horizontes Latinos
A competition between the most interesting Latin American features of the year not previously screened in Spain.

Made in Spain
Non-competitive selection showcasing Spanish films of the year, including productions previously premiered or not in Spain. The Festival offers these films an excellent international launch-pad.

A section on Basque film with the following subsections: Zinemira Premieres (Selection of world premieres mainly produced in the Basque Country), Zinemira Panorama (Overview of the best Basque films of the year), Zinemira Kimuak (selection of Basque short films), Zinemira Works Restored by the Basque Film Library.

Culinary Zinema
Section created in collaboration with the Berlin International Film Festival and jointly organized with the Basque Culinary Center to unite cinema, gastronomy and activities related to food in education, science and agriculture. This section offers a non-competitive selection of gastronomy-related films accompanied by themed dinners.

A hugely popular section screening big premieres to packed sessions in a cinema with seating for an audience of 3,000, cutting-edge screening systems and a giant 400 m² screen. Every morning, the Velodrome is set aside for a kids’ audience. Thanks to an agreement with Basque primary and secondary schools, the Velodrome offers an exclusive programme treating schoolchildren to a film in Basque on the giant screen.

Movies for Kids
A non-competitive section with film premieres specially chosen for younger audiences.

International Film Students Meeting
The meeting gathers students from film schools all over the world to attend screenings of their previously selected shorts, discussions and master classes given by industry professionals. A competition between the short films presented at the meeting will also be called where a student jury, chaired by a prestigious filmmaker, will choose the winner of the Panavision Award and the Agencia Freak Award. The jury will similarly decide the names of the three directors given the opportunity to participate in the Short Film Corner at Cannes.

Already announced the Classic retrospective for French filmmaker Georges Franju.
Thematic retrospective will be on New American Comedy with a cycle that includes 20 titles.
Thematic retrospective to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Films in Progress section and Ten Years with Latin American Cinema that will showcase 18 titles from among all those screened at festival during these 10 years

As has become a tradition the fest has very colorful posters for each of its sections and this year perhaps the one that stands among all is the Thematic Retrospective. In Progress. Ten Years with Latin American Cinema section that has an outstanding photo from the film Norteado by Rigoberto Pérezcano. Also is "interesting" that two posters have been released for the New Directors section, one for male directors and other for female directors. These are some of the 2012 posters.

(*)Was not able to confirm from reliable sources if the fest is the oldest in the Spanish-speaking world; but as far as I was able to read, in the Spanish-speaking world there is NO other festival founded before 1953, so probably it is.

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