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You are in: Home > 2020. 68th Edition  > Organization > The COVID-19 crisis
The COVID-19 crisis
Friday, September 4th, 2020

Reduction in capacity and films, online and staggered sale of numbered tickets

Like so many other events in 2020, the San Sebastian Festival will be unable to run in the same conditions as in previous years. The COVID-19 pandemic obliges the Festival to adapt, with the focus on two priority objectives: in the first place, to create a safe environment and, in the second, to offer as pleasant a cinematic experience as possible. Among the main measures taken by the Festival, in coordination with the Basque Government Department of Health, are:

  • A reduction in capacity: this translates into 40% of the Kursaal Auditorium (with a maximum of 600 spectators); 50% of the Victoria Eugenia, Principal Theatre and Kursaal 2 cinemas; and 60% of the other cinemas (Tabakalera, Trueba, Príncipe, Antiguo Berri). This reduction in capacity will apply to all of the Festival activities (press conferences, photocalls, presentations...).
  • Reduction in the number of screenings (159 fewer screenings than in 2019, i.e. a reduction of 23%) and in the number of films (65 fewer than in 2019, i.e. 31%). This will make the entrance to cinemas more orderly and means that they will take less time to empty. Most of the film industry activities and the new Reflection and discussion area will run online, reserving the physical format for screenings.
  • The cinemas will be disinfected between showings: at the Kursaal Auditorium, Kursaal 2, Victoria Eugenia Theatre and Principle Theatre – the cinemas with most capacity – the interval between screenings will be 90 minutes, while in the other spaces it will be 60 minutes.
  • Fewer venues (Velodrome and San Telmo Museum) and social events (opening and closing parties, Basque cinema party, cocktail parties…).
  • Obligatory mask use at all times. When a screening runs for more than four hours (as in the case of the series Patria, We Are Who We Are, and Andisturbios) spectators must wear an approved professional mask (KN95 or FFP2) in keeping with the stipulations indicated for special situations in the order issued by the Department of Health.
  • Online purchase of numbered tickets to prevent infection and enable identification and traceability and eventually contact tracing in the event of positive cases. The Zinemaldia Plaza service has been cancelled and tickets will only be sold from September 18 at the cinema ticket desks, where credit card payment is recommended.
  • Staggered sale to the public: Tickets will go on sale, as usual, on the Sunday before the Festival: September 13 (at 9:00). However, only tickets for the first three days of the Festival (Friday 18, Saturday 19 and Sunday 20) will be available for purchase. Tickets for Monday 21, Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 (and the remaining tickets for the previous days) will go on sale on the 14th. Finally, tickets for Thursday 24, Friday 25 and Saturday 26 (and the remaining tickets for the previous days) will go on sale on the 15th. From the 16th onwards, tickets will still be available for purchase for all showings, indistinctly. Each spectator can purchase a maximum of two tickets per showing, with a total limit of 20 tickets for each purchase. For tickets purchased in advance, the only applicable discounts are those corresponding to the Kutxabank Gazte card. The Festival will offer tickets with a discount of 25% every day to people who add their names to a mailing list, where they will receive information regarding availability every day.   
  • Red carpets with no public: Unfortunately, it will be impossible this year to repeat the images of movie fans asking the stars for autographs on their arrival or waiting to see them at the photocalls or on the red carpet. At this edition, these spaces will be restricted to professional use, with press reporters who will line the carpets while observing the required social distance.
  • Online programme: The Festival will make a special effort to ensure that its activities can be followed on its website. Every day a programme will be published for consultation including: all of the press conferences for the Official Selection and Donostia Award, the galas, presentations and master classes by film industry professionals. Furthermore, the stars visiting San Sebastian will participate in meetings with movie fans through the Festival’s social media.

2020, July 3

Now, after the end of the state of alarm, and in the hope that the pandemic will continue to ease, the San Sebastian has ruled out both cancelling the event and organising a standard edition continuing in the line of recent years.

Always focussed on the priority of observing the health requirements established by the authorities on the dates of the event, the Festival team is working to organise a 68th edition on the anticipated dates, from September 18-26. The objective is to produce a Festival in recognisable format, safe for the public, the film industry and the media.

The Festival executive has already taken a number of decisions: a reduction in the number of screenings (30% fewer), the online running of some of its activities (the Co-Production Forum, Zinemaldia & Technology, the round tables and masterclasses) and a mixed format (in situ and online) for the new WIP Latam and Europa sections, and for Ikusmira Berriak. The Festival will dispense with some of its usual venues, such as the Velodrome -setting of the morning screenings for schoolchildren jointly organised with the Donostia International Physics Center (which, exceptionally, will be organised online this year), the concert of film music given by the Basque National Orchestra and screening of the releases of popular films for the general public- and the San Telmo Museum, headquarters of the Co-Production Forum. It has also pushed back until 2021 the scheduled retrospective of Korean films from the 50s and 60s (Flowers in hell: the golden age of Korean cinema) and has cancelled the Klasikoak section for this year.

While the evolution of the pandemic will determine its final aspect, the Festival will maintain the physical attendance format of its remaining programme: the Official Selection competition, New Directors, Horizontes Latinos, Zabaltegi-Tabakalera, Perlak and Nest; the selection of films accompanied by themed dinners, and Zinemira, Made in Spain and the weekend Movies for Kids. 


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