The San Sebastián International Film Festival (Festival de Cine San Sebastian) is my third film festival this year and I was truly amazed by the selection of movies they were screening. The San Sebastian Film Festival dates are always in the end of September. I also thought it was very well organized compared to other film festivals. The city is very small and truly beautiful. It is like a small jewel on the coast of the Mediterranean. It is not only a cultural center of Europe, but also a culinary paradise. The festival offers culinary cinema as one of the categories in the competition. The festival promotes Spanish movies and actors. I was fortunate to run into the most famous Argentinian actor Ricardo Darin as well as Benicio del Torro. Also, some big stars appear around the Kursaal (the theatre where the movies are shown) I saw stars like Emily Blunt, Sienna Miller during the few days I spent in San Sebastian. They usually announce the San Sebastian film festival submission deadline months before the festival and they inform every attendee about the movies that participate in the competition a few months before the festival. The San Sebastian Film Festival in 2015 had many great movies.
Best Movies of the San Sebastián International Film Festival
The Icelandic movie Sparrows was the winner of the Film Festival. I saw the first hour of the movie, but I found it a bit slow and somewhat depressing, so I left the movie theatre to see a different film. The movie had really beautiful scenery. The movie portrays the life of an adolescent boy and his relationship with the people surrounding him.
The festival opened with Alejandro Alemabar’s new thriller Regression. The main characters are played by Emma Watson and Ethan Hawke. Emma Watson gives a good performance, given that she manages to cry throughout the whole movie. I also thought Ethan Hawke was good at playing the detective who is trying to unfold the satanic mysteries of a small town of Alabama and later he realizes that the mysteries are created by the characters’ imagination. The movie received mixed reviews by the international critiques. In my opinion it was forgettable. I would have expected more from a festival opening movie.
Truman was another Spanish movie. It was many people’s favorite at the festival. Most of the viewers left the theatre crying after the movie. The movie is about a man, who decides to face death instead of getting treatment for his terminal cancer. He spends his last days with his best friend who is visiting him from the North Pole. They visit relatives and friends and he says good-bye to everything and everybody around him. The movie brings out deep emotions from the audience. The protagonist shows love and affection towards his relatives and friends around him. The main character was played by Ricardo Darin, who won the best actor prize of the festival for his performance. He seems like a fun guy. I ran into him outside of the Kursaal once during the festival. He was friendly to all the people around him who were trying to take his photo. It was my favorite movie of the film festival in San Sebastian in 2016.
The movie High-Rise was the bloodiest most surreal movie I have seen since Lobster in Cannes. I absolutely loved the movie. A young psychiatrist, played by Tom Hiddleston moves into a surreal building and meets all his weird neighbors such as Sienna Miller or Jeremy Irons. By the end of the movie, many of the characters are killed and there is lots of blood everywhere, however the movie is very amusing, also schizoid in a way. I certainly liked the score, a mix of ABBA songs in the background. It was by far my favorite movie of the festival. This was the funniest movie of the International Film Festival in San Sebastian.
The Irrational Man
Woody Allen came up with another story that interprets the ideas and the message of Dostojevkij’s Crime and Punishment. The movie Irrational Man slightly reminded me of Match Point. This time, a depressed philosophy professor, played by Joaquin Phoenix finds himself in a relationship with his student (Emma Stone). The murder is committed by the professor in a way, that there is no evidence of the crime and no one knows who committed it. The girlfriend of the professor quickly unfolds the riddle and solves the questions around the crime and figures out that her boyfriend was the killer.
Sicario displays the Mexican drug war in a very detailed and brutal manner. I personally can’t stand violent movies, but this movie is so intense and engaging that the viewer does not lose attention for a second. Benicio del Torro plays the main character, the Hispanic detective, who is determined to find the Mexican drug lord and kill him. He is cruel and focused on his goal to find the man he is looking for. Later in the movie, the viewer learns about his personal interest in his action. Emily Blunt is a female FBI agent who is involved in the mission, because they want her to learn from the big guys. She is emotional and slightly frustrated by all the violence around her. It is a very intense movie and a very good thriller. You may not like it if you cannot tolerate violence and blood.
Overall, the San Sebastian Film Festival was an exceptional experience and I would be happy to return in the future. I was amazed by the variety of movies playing at the festival and the number of movie stars who showed up for the press conferences. It was overall a wonderful experience to be part of this exceptional festival in such a spectacular city. San Sebastián International Film Festival
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