San Sebastian Freshens Up Inauguration Gala

San Sebastian Film Festival - curtain raiser - Publicity-H 2018
Courtesy of Festival de San Sebastian/Montse Castillo

With a noticeably irreverent tone — thanks to a humorous script written by Spain's top comedy writers Borja Cobeaga and Diego San Jose ('Bomb Scared' and 'Spanish Affair'), with Borja Echevarria — the formerly staid gala took on a decidedly younger air in keeping with the festival's stated goal of becoming a one-stop shop for fresh faces.

Actresses Nagore Aranburu and Belen Cuesta ushered in a new look and feel at the inauguration of the 66th San Sebastian International Film Festival Friday night, kicking off the event that runs through Sept. 29 in the picturesque seaside town that is its namesake.

With a noticeably irreverent tone — thanks to a humorous script written by Spain's top comedy writers Borja Cobeaga and Diego San Jose (Bomb Scared and Spanish Affair), with Borja Echevarria — the formerly staid gala took on a decidedly younger air in keeping with the festival's stated goal of becoming a one-stop shop for fresh faces.

Some things stayed true to form for the official launch of the festival. 

Paul Thomas Anderson, who has received the Fipresci Award for best film three times, was not on hand this year to receive the International Federation of Film Critics' top prize for 2018 for his Phantom Thread. Universal Pictures Spain's Jose Luis Hervias accepted the award.

But Ricardo Darin and Mercedes Moran accompanied Juan Vega as he presented his directorial debut An Unexpected Love as the opening film in the Official Selection competition. The Argentine midlife love story, distributed by Buenavista in Argentina and Filmax in Spain, has already closed distribution deals in a dozen territories, with talks reportedly underway for the U.S., China, Italy and Germany.

As custom dictates in Spain's biggest festival, the gala was conducted in English, Spanish and the local Basque language in the futuristic Kursaal Auditorium, with a taped version of the gala ceremony broadcast on pubcaster Television Espanola's second channel.

San Sebastian buzzes with excitement for what promises to be a strong lineup of films and stars. Judi Dench, Danny DeVito and Hirokazu Koreeda are to be honored by the festival with Donostia lifetime achievement awards. Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling and Lily Rose Depp — among others — will also sprinkle their stardust at the festival during the week.