When you cast an eye along the queue outside the cinema and see a gaggle of people drinking red wine by the glass and eating pintxos as they wait to get in, you can only be in one place – San Sebastian.
The city, hugging the coast of the Basque Country, is the perfect place to watch cinema, with its venues in easy walking distance of one another and elaborate bar snacks – usually involving several ingredients perched precariously on a piece of bread – always to hand for film fans and critics desperate for a bite to eat between screenings.
This year the festival celebrated its 63rd edition and offered its customary mix of new films and well-curated retrospectives, including a celebration of the work of King Kong collaborators Merian C Cooper and Ernest B Schoedsack and a showcase of some of the best Japanese independent cinema from the past 15 years.
The festival also hosts the FIPRESCI Grand Prix presentation – awarded by members to the best film from the pat year – which was given this year to George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road. The chief award sections are the Official Competition, Horizontes Latinos and New Directors, the latter of which is particularly competitive. This year the Golden Shell was presented to Icelandic coming-of-age drama Sparrows, directed by Rúnar Rúnarsson. The FIPRESCI prize, chosen from the 17 films in the Official competition section, was given to The Apostate (El apóstata), directed by Federico Veiroj. (Amber Wilkinson)
San Sebastian International Film Festival: www.sansebastianfestival.com