San Sebastian Finishes on High Note

Fabrizio Maltese

Festival titles attract interest from international buyers.

MADRID - Bracketed by star power from Clive Owen, Glenn Close, Michael Fassbender and Antonio Banderas, the 59th San Sebastian International Film Festival finished on a high note with a closing party at the majestic Miramar Palace.

"The new director and his team have brought back some of the glamour, but not at the expense of investing in the future of the festival by making important structural updates that make it easier for professionals," said Paramount Pictures Spain's Enrique Munoz.

The setting surely exuded elevated celebration, set in a privileged venue overlooking San Sebastian's famed Concha beach with the illuminated Perla Island in the center -- with copious food, drink and music. Citing budget constraints, the festival hadn't hosted a closing party in years.

This year, however, the party buzzed with news of a string of deals that included Berlin's M-Appeal taking world sales outside of Spain and Switzerland on Golden Shell winner Isaki Lacuesta's The Double Steps and Camara d'Or winner Las Acacias landing the €35,000 ($47,300) Horizons award that facilitates successful theatrical distribution.

"We're very happy with Maria's award and have found a lot of international interest in Benito here," said Maestranza producer Antonio Perez, referring to Maria Leon's Silver Shell for acting in Benito Zambrano's The Sleeping Voice.

Close won this year's Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award and presented her Albert Nobbs in the Official Section, while Owen and Fassbender came to promote their latest films Intruders and Shame, respectively. Banderas presented a 20-minute clip of Dreamworks' Puss in Boots.

Michel Hazanavicius' silent film The Artist came home with the Audience Award and across-the-board positive reviews from local critics, while Nadine Labaki's Where do We Go Now? won the best European film nod.