10 Years On and a New Breath for the SEFF

in 10th Sevilla European Film Festival

by Renzo Fegatelli

Seville: The Seville Festival de Cine Europeo (Seville European Film Festival) has reached its first ten years, and first Fipresci Jury, to underline an audience appreciation which has been consolidated in the last decade. The path was not easy. Seville, has always been a stage for world cinema, boasting the setting for such classic films as Lawrence of Arabia (dir. David Lean, 1962), Star Wars (dir. George Lucas, 1977), and recently The Dictator (dir. Larry Charles, 2012), co-produced and co-written by Sacha Boran Cohen, and Tom Cruise in Knight and Day (dir. James Mangold, 2010). Playing host and hospitality during the last century to the most important Spanish movies, and to name just one, Carmen (2003) by Vicente Aranda, today, at the end of a long journey, Seville discovers its European vocation.

In a country where the main towns have their own Film Festival, and some more than one; where San Sebastián and Valladolid have excelled for around 60 years, Seville, Flamenco’s cradle, first made its first steps in 1985. The Festival took place at Christmas and lasted for two years.

Later, Seville had been working for the 1992 universal Expo. This world success suggested to the municipality that they should run for the 2004 Olympic Games. From that platform in 2001 they promoted a Sport and Cinema Festival and for this they called upon, as director, José Luis Ruiz, who founded and managed the Festival de Cine Iberoamericano de Huelva for 18 years.

For three years, by choosing the residence at the historical Theatre Lope De Vega, the Festival attracted to Seville movie stars from all over the world and sporting champions from football, cycling and boxing. When it was clear that were no possibility to get the Olympic Games, the Sports Committee decided to sell the Festival to the Seville Municipality for the symbolic price of 1 Euro.

So began in November 2004 the adventure of the Festival de Cine Europeo de Seville under the direction of Manuel Grosso. In the first years the Festival didn’t have much of an audience. Even by bringing to Seville movie stars or directors such as Milos Forman or Francesco Rosi, or famous Spanish characters like Sara Montiel or Luis Berlanga, the Festival seemed not to receive a big popular support.

Today the Festival is the flower on the button-hole of the Seville Municipality, which is the first sponsor of this cultural event. With a budget of about one million Euros, 180 films in the catalogue and on 14 screens, the Festival has a very big and mostly young audience. Often the tickets are sold out a day before the screenings. Also, José Luis Cienfuegos, the new director since last year, has promoted an international critics Jury, as well as having extended the participation of Spanish films in the program.

Edited by Steven Yates