San Sebastian format change mooted

Film market should shift to Malaga, says Film Institute boss

MADRID -- Spain's top film authority has said Spain's only A-list festival, the San Sebastian International Film Festival, should change its format so as not to compete with Toronto, which runs just prior to the Spanish event.

"San Sebastian can't continue without taking into account what's going on in Toronto," Spain's Film Institute director Ignasi Guardans said in an interview this week with Spanish daily El Pais. "A premiere is no longer local, but global. And that affects San Sebastian, which is and will continue to be the main Spanish event, but has gotten smaller because the picture has changed."

According to the director, Spain's main film market for Spanish cinema should not coincide with San Sebastian, but with the Malaga Spanish Film Festival, which offers a nearby airport, hotel rooms and facilities for international buyers.

After working to revamp Spain's film subsidiary system and creating an inter-ministerial body to fight piracy, the Spanish Film Institute will next tackle the mushrooming number of film festivals in Spain, Guardans said. But he also specified the institute cannot make the changes, it is the individual festivals' organizers that must reevaluate their events.

With 233 festivals throughout the year and twice that number of film cycles and retrospectives, Guardans said the Culture Ministry supported 42 festivals in 2007 and has earmarked more than €3 million ($4.5 million) in 2010 for the events.

Spain's only A-list festival, the San Sebastian International Film Festival, and the Huelva IberoAmerican Film Festival are not included in that pot as they are funded separately as the ministry is a sponsor and does not just provide financial assistance.

Guardans also said he thought Huelva should strengthen its position.

"We are the great gateway for South American cinema to Europe. But let's have one, not five [festivals dedicated to IberoAmerican cinema]. That's where Huelva comes in. It needs to review its strategy."