Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon Arrive for 60th San Sebastian Festival

The Spanish film event pulls the stops to invite big names and host a swanky cocktail for the inauguration.

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain – Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Jorge Drexler and a stream of  Spanish politicans and international filmmakers strolled up the red carpet to cheering crowds Friday night as the 60th San Sebastian International Film Festival kicked off.

Both previously honored by the festival with Donostia Lifetime Achievement Awards, Gere and Sarandon were warmly received as they graced the stage at the inaugural ceremony to present Arbitrage, with director Nicolas Jarecki as the opening film of the Official Section.

“I’m very happy to be here and I wish you a very happy birthday. I’m only 45 years old, so I don’t know how it feels to turn 60,” Gere joked as he thanked the festival for inviting him back—followed by Sarandon who quipped “I do know how it feels to turn 60.”

Fipresci’s Klaus Eden announced the Best Film award for Michael Haneke’s Cannes Golden Palm winner Amour, with actor Ramon Agirre on hand to pick it up at the ceremony, followed by a video of Eden thanking the foreign critics.

Spanish actors Jose Coronado, Barbara Goenaga and Cayetana Guillen Cuervo presented the inaugural ceremony in Spanish, English and the local Basque language—with a nostalgic look back at the festival’s 60 years.

Jury chair  and film producer Christine Vachon stood on stage, flanked by the official section jury members including Ricardo Darin, Michel Gaztambide, Mia Hansen-Love, Peter Suschitzky, Julie Taymor andAgusti Villaronga.

Oscar-winning Uruguayan musician Drexler heads the Latin Horizons jury, but his presence as a much-loved musician in Spain was a hit with fans.

The festival, which runs Sept. 21-29 in the picturesque Basque town on Spain’s northern coast, expects a steady flow of star power for its anniversary celebration. Ben Affleck, Catherine Denueve, Tommy Lee Jones, Oliver Stone, John Travolta, Ewan McGregor and Dustin Hoffman are some of the big names expected in town later this week.

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