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The concept of distance and the need to return to film theatres at the centre of the Festival opening gala

Jon Maya and Harkaitz Cano direct and write the opening and closing galas, as well as the Donostia Award and Basque Cinema galas


The concept of distance, deeply felt in these times of pandemic, and the need to return to film theatres, are the central themes of tomorrow’s gala serving to open the San Sebastian Festival’s 68th edition at the Kursaal. The dancer and choreographer Jon Maya will act as MC, while the author Harkaitz Cano will produce the script.

The tandem of creators from Gipuzkoa will also conceive the Donostia Award and Basque Cinema galas celebrating the careers of actor Viggo Mortensen and casting director Sara Bilbatua, respectively. They will similarly design the closing gala in line with recent editions, for which the production of auteur galas had been commissioned from artists including Borja Cobeaga and Diego San José or Borja Crespo.

The opening gala won’t have a typical presenter; instead, the responsibility will fall upon several actors and a number of personalities -Cayetana Guillén Cuervo, Eneko Sagardoy, Miren Gaztañaga, Inma Cuevas- who will introduce the sections and contents of the edition. Live dance and music will largely occupy the spotlight: dancers from the Kukai Company, directed by Maya himself, will participate together with a group of five musicians under the musical direction of Luis María Moreno Urretabizcaya, aka Pirata.    

 At the ceremony stress will be placed on the need to return to the film theatres, recently opened after months of lockdown, and there will be more than one nod to the flowers featured on the poster of the 68th edition, brought to life thanks to the animations of illustrator June San Sebastián.

In his presentation notes, Harkaitz Cano stresses that “in a pandemic context where certainties fall apart and an abyss seems to open beneath our feet, the word distance has taken on a meaning difficult to imagine months back”. “That’s why we would like the opening gala to revolve around that particular subject: distance. A distance of separation, but also a distance of protection”, says the writer.

The gala, which will be broadcast live on Spanish Television’s La 2 channel, ETB1, and the Festival website, will include presentation of the members of the Official Selection jury, chaired this year by the Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino. In addition, in this edition marked by Covid-19, the Festival director, José Luis Rebordinos, will invite his Cannes counterpart, Thierry Frémaux, to come up onto the stage to give a speech in support of the French festival and of all cinematic events cancelled this year due to the coronavirus.

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