Light, bright start for San Sebastian

Festival embraces humour on opening night

by Amber Wilkinson

Mercedes Morán and Ricardo Darín in An Unexpected Love, which will open San Sebastian
Mercedes Morán and Ricardo Darín in An Unexpected Love, which will open San Sebastian Photo: Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival
San Sebastian Film Festival kicked off last night with an opening ceremony that aimed for a lighter and fresher feel than usual by adding a dose of humour courtesy of Spanish Affair writers Borja Cobeaga and Diego San José, working alongside Borja Echevarría. The shift from the normally more traditional opening tone, dovetails with the festival's keenness to embrace younger, newer voices.

Explaining the change, director José Luis Rebordinos said: “These are bad times for humour. You get the impression that we all feel as if we’re under attack when someone ridicules or laughs at our convictions. Humour has always been an essential part of artistic expression and serves as a catalyst, making us question ourselves and the topics which reappear time and again. In this case, we want to laugh at the clichés generally used when referring to our city and our festival.”

The star quality was brought by Ricardo Darin and Mercedes Moran, who star in the opening film An Unexpected Love (Un Amor Menos Pensado) - which focuses on a mid-life marriage crisis - directed by Juan Vera, who was also in attendance.

The opening night also celebrated the winner of the FIPRESCI International Federation of Film Critics’ annual grand prix, Phantom Thread - the third time Paul Thomas Anderson has won the award, although he was not on hand this year to collect it.

The festival - whose guests this year will also include Judi Dench, Hirokazu Kore-eda and Danny DeVito - has also announced it will sign the Charter for Parity and Inclusion of Women in Cinema tomorrow. The initiative, which was outlined in Cannes, sees the festival commit to a raft of measures for better inclusivity. It includes commitments to compiling statistics concerning the gender balance of film selection and moves towards gender parity on the festival's executive and selection committees.

The evening wrapped up with a party at the impressive San Telmo Museum, which began at the typically Spanish late hour of 1am - not that that did anything to deter the crowds.

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