The 2023 San Sebastian Film Festival begins with animation in the spotlight

by Lorraine Williamson

DONOSTIA-SAN SEBASTIAN – The 71st edition of the San Sebastián Film Festival starts today with great expectations but also some controversies. Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki’s new film, ‘El niño y la garza‘, will open the festival. 

This year the focus is on animation, with special films competing for the coveted Concha de Oro Prize. The annual festival is normally a magnet for Hollywood stars. However, this year will see a lower attendance of American celebrities this year due to the ongoing actors’ strike. 

Still, actress Jessica Chastain has been confirmed to present her film ‘Memory’. Javier Bardem, who was to receive the Donostia Prize, cancelled his participation and the award ceremony has been moved to 2024. 

Also read: Over hundred years of Spanish film 

Animation in the spotlight 

This year’s San Sebastian Film Festival will see the European premiere of ‘El niño y la garza’, Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film. Miyazaki is also the first recipient of this year’s Donostia Prize, which he will receive virtually. Another notable animated film is ‘El sueño de la sultana’ by Isabel Herguera. This will also compete for the Concha de Oro. 

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Controversial films 

The festival has also faced controversy due to the documentary ‘No me llame Ternera’, which is about ETA, the Basque separatist group. Several victims’ associations and police unions have demanded the film’s removal from programming. However, the festival organisation has confirmed that the film will be shown, citing the importance of freedom of expression. 

Expected participation 

In addition to international stars, European celebrities such as Juliette Binoche, Mads Mikkelsen and François Cluzet will also be present in San Sebastian in the coming week. Among the Spanish actors, Laia Costa, Hugo Silva, José Coronado and Carmen Machi have been confirmed. 

Concha de Oro – The Golden Shell 

Other Spanish films competing for the Concha de Oro are ‘Un amor’ by Isabel Coixet and ‘O Corno’ by Jaione Camborda. Many other international directors, including Jonathan Glazer and Todd Haynes, will also be present to present their films. 

The festival will end on September 29, with a special prize for Víctor Erice, one of the most elusive great directors in the history of Spanish cinema. His presence is seen as one of the most anticipated moments of this edition of the festival. 

Also read: ‘La Sociedad de la Nieve’ will represent Spain at the Oscars 

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