Last year, the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, arrested in Russia on 10 May 2014 for his support of the Euromaidan protests in Kiev, was named honorary jury member of the 62nd San Sebastian Festival, as backing of the campaign launched by the European Film Academy to demand that he be set free. A few weeks ago we received the terrible news that Sentsov has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. A sad occurrence which, as is always the case when our spirits are down, prompts us to ask ourselves if gestures like these serve any purpose when faced with hard reality. The answer, luckily, was right there: despite the deafness and intransigence that continues to affect the world we live in, shouldn’t a film festival’s mission be to act as the sounding board for all those troubles that surround us? And shouldn’t it also become a privileged meeting point between professionals from all over the world, between films and their public, between the world out there and our small everyday reality?
The 63rd San Sebastian Festival takes this premise as its basis, the idea that, no matter what and despite everything, something moves, that something may change every time an event like this is organised. Yet another year, the Official Selection will assemble important filmmakers from all over the world who offer their particular takes on man and society from widely differing points of view, from social drama to political film, from comedy to animated cinema: Terence Davies, Lucile Hadihalilović, Liu Hao, Mamoru Hosoda, Joachim Lafosse, Jean-Marie & Arnaud Larrieu, Philippe Lesage, Rufus Norris, Rúnar Rúnarsson, Peter Sollett, Levan Tutberidze and Ben Wheatley. And the talents taking off in the New Directors section come from different parts of Europe, America and Asia to give us a fresh and unprejudiced look at the family, the painful rites of adolescence, or the devastating future outlook gripping today’s young people. A tendency also pointed towards by participants in the International Film Students Meeting, a group of young people whose first works clearly demonstrate that the desire to tell stories with a camera remains alive, generation after generation.
The Zabaltegi programme too unites a dazzling selection of works by enormously heterodox filmmakers such as Laurie Anderson, Jem Cohen, Anca Damian, Andrés Di Tella, Eric Khoo, Jean-Gabriel Périot, Corneliu Porumboiu, Walter Salles and Alexander Sokurov, among others. Even this year’s thematic retrospective, dedicated to New Japanese Independent Cinema made in the last fifteen years, takes us on a fascinating tour of Japanese society and culture, reaffirming the capacity of film to take us into other worlds and give us a better understanding of them.
2015 has also been an extraordinary year for Spanish film production and this edition of the Festival perfectly reflects this fact. This year the different sections will include the new and eagerly awaited films by Asier Altuna, Alejandro Amenábar, Fernando Colomo, Álex de la Iglesia, Cesc Gay, Paula Ortiz, Marc Recha, Imanol Uribe, Pere Joan Ventura and Agustí Villaronga. Basque production too finds greater visibility in the Zinemira section, including the world premieres of films by Gorka Bilbao Ramos, Pablo Iraburu Allegue & Migueltxo Molina Ayestarán, Lara Izagirre and Josu Martínez.
Meanwhile, the ties that bind Spanish and Latin American cinema grow ever stronger thanks to co-production and to the creation of a market and an audience common to both shores. The Festival cannot forget its role of supporting this process, whether by including in the Official competition Latin American talents such as Pablo Agüero and Federico Veiroj, or by means of the Horizontes Latinos section, which in this edition becomes an impressive repertoire of the best Latin American films of the year. But the Festival also fosters support of this alliance between Spanish and Latin American cinema by focussing on its industrial aspect, with initiatives such as Films in Progress, aimed at helping films at the post-production stage, or the IV Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum for the development of joint projects between both continents. Supporting both films already completed and those still to be made is the tangible demonstration that the purpose of a film festival is none other than to help get things moving.