Penelope Cruz to Receive San Sebastian Film Festival Award

Spain’s most international actress will pick up the honorary prize from her country’s top film event and grace its official poster.

The San Sebastian International Film Festival on Friday unveiled the first of its annual Donostia Awards, for Spanish actress Penelope Cruz, who will also grace the festival’s official poster for its upcoming 67th edition, which runs Sept. 20-28.

Spain’s most internationally recognized actress, Cruz has been a regular presence at San Sebastian for more than two decades. Since 1994, she has starred in as many as a dozen films invited to screen at the festival, including three in the official competition: Alvaro Fernandez Armero’s Todo es Mentira (1994), Bigas Luna’s Volaverunt (199) and Sergio Castellitto’s Twice Born (2012).

In 2017, Cruz and husband Javier Bardem presented their film Loving Pablo to a packed audience as the closing film of the festival. She is the fifth Spanish actor to receive the Donostia Prize, preceded by Fernando Fernan Gomez (1999), Paco Rabal (2001), Antonio Banderas (2008) and Carmen Maura (2013).

Cruz is currently starring in compatriot Pedro Almodovar’s Pain & Glory, which is playing in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. She was the first Spanish actress to win a best supporting actress Oscar for her work in Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona, and she shared the best actress award at Cannes as well as an honorary Cesar for Volver. Both these films also played in San Sebastian.

"We are delighted that Penelope Cruz, a marvelous actress we admire and whose footsteps we have also followed since the start of her career, has accepted to be the image of the San Sebastian Festival and to receive the Donostia Award,” said festival director Jose Luis Rebordinos in a statement.

Cruz added: “I receive the news of this Donostia Award full of emotion and gratitude to the San Sebastian Festival for granting me this immense honor. San Sebastian is not only an internationally renowned festival but also the most important in our country and a very special place to me because I have had the pleasure of visiting it since I was very young and have lived very touching moments there. Thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart."

Last year’s winners of the Donostia Prize, which was created in 1986 to recognize outstanding contributions to world cinema, were Judi Dench, Hirokazu Koreeda and Danny DeVito.

The poster with Cruz's image follows in a new line launched last year, when it starred Isabelle Huppert, combining photography and illustration and featuring a figure from the contemporary film world.

The festival also announced a retrospective dedicated to the Mexican film director Roberto Gavaldon.