No reduction in funding for San Seb fest

Spanish Film Institute to maintain $1 mil budget

SAN SEBASTIAN -- The Spanish Film Institute (ICAA) will maintain its €1 million ($1.3 million) budget for the San Sebastian International Film Festival despite previous hints that budget cuts at the Culture Ministry would lead to a decrease in funds for Spain's top festival.

The news comes against the backdrop of the 58th edition of the festival, taking place in Spain's northern Basque region through Saturday and days after rumors started spreading of a €100,000 ($133,300) reduction on the part of the national government.

The decision should send a clear message of commitment to the other three partners in the festival -- the municipal, provincial and regional governments.

San Sebastian is at a crossroads, with festival director Mikel Olaciregui stepping down after 10 years and Jose Luis Rebordinos taking over at the end of the year. Regularly upstaged by Venice and Toronto, which snag world premieres just a few weeks earlier, Spain's only A-list event has chiseled out a niche in the festival circuit as the one-stop-shop for Latin American and Spanish cinema.

In an interview with Spanish daily "El Pais," ICAA director general Ignasi Guardans said earlier this week the festival should "rethink" its position.

"I'm not questioning its future, but it has to stop and reflect," Guardans said. "It should well define its personality."

The ministry's decision to maintain its commitment may also encourage sponsors to stay involved in the largest Spanish-language festival in the world.

Television Espanola's general manager Santiago Gonzalez was unable to say whether the pubcaster would continue its sponsorship of the festival next year, when this year's agreement expires.

"We will have to adapt to budgets and whether we go on supporting the festival is a decision that will be made by the board," Gonzalez said. "But we are already negotiating. There is a constant conversation between the festival and Television Espanola."