San Sebastian Filmfestival 2023


After many years, festivalblog returns to its origins. The San Sebastian Film Festival of 2004 was the birth of festivalblog. Films by Woody Allen (MELINDA AND MELINDA), Oliver Stone (LOOKING FOR FIDEL) and Michael Winterbottom (NINE SONGS) were enthusiastically reviewed. John Sayles, Jeff Bridges and Pedro Almodovar also came. From the beginning, I was impressed by how close you get to the people behind the movies.

After almost 20 years, a lot has changed, but the beauty of this festival has never been lost. Of course, first of all, it's the city itself. San Sebastian is one of the most picturesque cities in the world. Because of the city, the San Sebastian Film Festival is more closely connected to the sea than perhaps any other film festival. But then there is also the love of the people of Donostia (the Basque name of San Sebastian) for their festival and for film.

It was an overwhelming and touching experience to sit in the first "projection" in a sold-out Kursaal and as the festival trailer starts the audience is clapping rhythmically out of enthusiasm and solidarity. After the screening, the director was celebrated as I have it seldom experienced (in this case Christos Nikou for FINGERNAILS).

Like Venice, the programme in San Sebastian has few Hollywood celebrities at the moment due to the "writer strike". Even for a US independent production like EX-HUSBANDS, actors had to check with their unions to see if it was OK to come to San Sebastian. This further complicates the struggle of a film festival like San Sebastian for attention. But not only in the programme, but also in the jury you will find familiar names. Claire Denis chairs the jury and Christian Petzold from Germany is also on the Jury.