With 50 editions to date, Gijon is slightly younger than the major European festivals. In Spain, it ranks as the third or fourth-most important film event and it focuses on independents as a kind of Spanish mirror to Sundance. The lasting effect of this festival was very evident in this anniversary edition (November 16. - 25): Raúl García, jury member of the new animation section Animaficx, for example, first experienced the festival at the age of 15. Gijón has been focusing on cinema and TV films for children and young people since 1963. Later, García was the first ever Spanish animator at Disney and currently he’s on the shortlist for the Oscars with an animated short film adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's House of Usher. For the first animated adaptation of a Cornelia Funke novel, Kleiner Wehrwolf, the independent producer and director, is actually looking for partners. Like García some years ago, up to 12,000 children and young people continue to populate the festival cinemas every year in the morning, discovering new perspectives in the Asturian coastal town which lies in the center of a former mining area. But the recent crisis of the banks reached even this culturally rich area of Northern Spain. There are protests against cuts and some schools can’t finance the trip to the festival any more.
The new festival director Nacho Carballo, who replaced José Luis Cienfuegos (responsible since 1995) under the protest of some Spanish filmmaker, continued that tradition with the Enfants Terribles section but also presented a strong international competition which was established in 1986. Here Epilogue, the touching portrait of two impoverished pensioners in Tel Aviv by Israeli director Amir Manor, got another festival prize. Shortsighted protesters wanted to stop the screenings in reaction to the Israeli attack on the Gaza, ignorant of the fact that Manor is a decidedly left-wing director and war opponent. Fortunately the festival defended the freedom of speech and film. The winner of the FIPRESCI Prize and Afghan Academy Award nominee was The Patience Stone for which Atiq Rahimi (Earth and Ashes, 2004) was another impressive starter in this competition: The Prix Goncourt winner directed his own novel, "Syngué Sabour Pierre de patience", a painful emancipation between Afghan war fronts. Jean-Claude Carrière is the co-writer. One more contender for the Oscar shortlist in the Gijon program was the short film Stamped by Michael Linzer Rittmannsberger which won two major prizes. (Günter H. Jekubzik, edited by Steven Yates)
Gijón International Film Festival: www.en.fic.gijon.es