The curtain rose on the 66th San Sebastián International Film Festival at the opening gala held in the Kursaal last night. In a radical change of format the ceremony featured a series of humorous dialogues delivered by the actresses Belen Cuesta and Nagore Aranburu, interspersed with comical videos making fun of the typical clichés that often surround the city of San Sebastián and laughing at the pretensions of film festivals in general.
The gala still provided an overview of all the sections and activities in the Festival including the retrospective devoted to the British filmmaker Muriel Box and the Nest Film Students Meeting. As usual the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Grand Prix was presented for the best film of the year and on this occasion it went to Phantom Thread by Paul Thomas Anderson, which meant that this was the third time he had won the award.
There was a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the television programme, “Versión Española” as well as a tribute to the costume designer Yvonne Blake, the president of the Spanish Film Academy, who passed away recently.
The Paraguayan director of Las Herederas, Marcello Martinessi, took the opportunity to say what an honour it was for his film to be opening the Horizontes Latinos section this year before the six members of the Official Jury came out on stage and their president, the filmmaker Alexander Payne, made a short speech stressing how the very existence of the Festival opened up a tiny window for us onto current cinema and contemporary history.
Finally, the crew of the opening film, El amor menos pensado (An Unexpected Love), consisting of the director, Juan Vera, and its two leading characters, Ricardo Darín and Mercedes Morán, and its producers introduced the movie, and thanked San Sebastián for being courageous enough to choose a comedy to open what they said was the best film festival in the world.