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55th San Sebastian International Film Festival
Donostia Memoirs
by Mohammad Mohammadian

Diego Galan has presented some nostalgic pictures of San Sebastian Film Festival in the course of many years in his book, 50 Years in Motion. Some filmmakers named in the book are no longer alive. San Sebastian will never see Hitchcock, Fellini, Kieslowski, Anthony Quinn and Audrey Hepburn again. But the ship will be sailing on. Today is September 20 and the ship has anchored near its 55th coast with new passengers.
Like previous years, Donostia – San Sebastian Festival has two sections; a competition section and Zabaltegi which is a section dedicated to filmmakers who have made their first films. There are also other sections such as Horizonte Latinos and Basque Cinema Day as well as tributes to Henry King and Philippe Garrel. This year the festival is presenting Donostia’s special award to Richard Gere and Liv Ullmann. The award was first given to Gregory Peck in 1968 and has been given to some other filmmakers since then for their influential presence in cinema.
The opening ceremony was held at the festival’s headquarters at Kursal with a brief introduction of various sections. All those who go on the stage have to come down via a difficult staircase. The last person to come down was David Cronenberg who made the violent movie Eastern Promises. He and his leading actor climbed down the stairs cautiously. He said making that film was difficult but climbing down the stairs was even more dangerous! His film was screened at the opening ceremony. Its violent scenes are hard to tolerate. Even writing about the scene in which someone beheads another man using a razor would be difficult, let alone watching. The film had won the Toronto Festival’s award and it was also welcomed by the audience in San Sebastian.
Fados by Carlos Saura representing Spain and Portugal, is a different movie. It is a collection of musical performances. After two years of research, it seems that the great Spanish director has taken one more step towards music. The musical pieces are a medley of pieces composed in the 19th century and convey the message of love and friendship.
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