61st San Sebastian International Film Festival
Spain, September 20 - September 28 2013
60+1 was the formula forthe newest edition of the San Sebastian Film Festival, following its 60th anniversarylast year. Again, the traditional international festival in the Basque Country did not disappoint,maintainingits high-quality trademarks: excellent retrospectives (the entire oeuvre of Nagisa Oshima), a strong selection of New Directors’ works, and a wide variety of films from the Spanish-speaking cinema community. As usual, FIPRESCI presented its award to the best film of the year (selected by the forum of international critics) at the festival’s opening ceremony. This very special prize went to Blue is the Warmest Color (La vie d’Adele) by Abdellatif Kechiche, which also screened at San Sebastian and Cannes. The FIPRESCI jury, comprising of critics invited to the festival, watched the main competition program and gave theiraward to Quai d’Orsay by Bertrand Tavernier.
A few other candidates were considered for the prize, mostly films from Latin America. The runner-up was Mexican film Club Sandwich by Fernando Eimbcke, a minimalistic look at a mother-son relationship and pubescent sexuality. Another strong candidate was Bad Hair (Pelomalo) by Mariana Rondon, an impressive reflection on life in modern Venezuela, also concentrating on mother-son relations (this film actually won the Golden Shell, the main prize of the festival). Quai d’Orsay by Bertrand Tavernier certainly was the most intelligent and best crafted film fromthe competition. In the burlesque tradition, Thierry Lhermitte plays a man with style, who happens to be the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the land of enlightenment, France. His character sincerely believes that the key to success in politics is sophisticated schmoozing, whichis why he always quotes pearls from Heraclitus, thus transforming ancient wisdoms into modern banalities. A collective portrait of real-life politicians from various countries, Tavernier’s hero suggests that the real key to success in politics is neither intelligence nor diplomatic talent, and neither language skills, but audacity, demagogy, and unrestrained ambition. (Andrei Plakhov)
San Sebastian International Film Festival: www.sansebastianfestival.com