San Sebastian Film Festival Is Ready for Action

Sony Pictures
Denzel Washington will present his latest work, 'The Equalizer,' on Friday at the festival

The world's biggest Spanish-speaking film festival boasts seventeen world premieres this year

After years of reorganizing and cost cutting, San Sebastian looks ready to show it can keep playing with the big boys.

As the curtain lifts on the 62nd San Sebastian International Film Festival, which kicks off Friday in Spain’s northern Basque region, all the pieces are in order for the world’s most important Spanish-language festival: features from world-renowned directors mixed with a bevy of up-and-coming talent and sprinkled with a hefty dose of Latin flavor from South American films vying for a spot in the international market.

Denzel Washington, Benecio del Toro, Pedro Almodovar, Antonio Banderas, Viggo Mortensen and Jessica Chastain are a few of the stars expected at the festival, which runs Sept. 19-27.

Washington will be the first splash of glamor for the festival on Friday when he presents his latest work, The Equalizer, and picks up the festival’s Donostia Award for lifetime achievement.

Spain’s only A-list festival boasts seventeen world premieres this year, including Bille August’s Silent Heart, Alberto Rodriguez’s film noir Marshlands, Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s Samba and the John Malkovich-starrer Casanova Variations.

Other Spanish production standouts include Borja Cobeaga's The Negotiator, about the armed Basque separatist group ETA, Damian Szifon's Wild Tales and Banderas' sci-fi apocolypse tale Automata.

In addition to the traditional mixture of veterans and fresh faces in the main competition-- as well as the festival’s much loved Pearls Selection that showcases all the gems from previous festivals -- this year’s festival also features a thematic retrospective of post-2000 films from former Soviet-bloc countries in Eastern Promises and a homage to the only woman director to carve out a niche in Hollywood’s golden age, Dorothy Arzner.

Looking to beef up its industry weight, San Sebastian has bulked up the Europe-Latin American Co-Production Forum by timing it with the hugely successful Films in Progress sidebar, which enables potential buyers to get a sneak peak at unfinished projects and awards post-production financing.

Spanish producer Fernando Bovaira heads the official jury, which will award the Golden Shell at the closing ceremony.