Francis Ford Coppola Alfred Hitchcock Federico Fellini Belle Epoque Ava Gardner John Hopewell Luis Buñuel Spain film awards Latin Francis Ford Coppola Alfred Hitchcock Federico Fellini Belle Epoque Ava Gardner John Hopewell Luis Buñuel Spain

San Sebastian at 70: How the Modern Festival Was Born

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variety.com

John Hopewell Chief International Correspondent The dream child of 10 Basque businessmen who hoped to prolong San Sebastián’s summer season into late September, the San Sebastian Film Festival was born on Sept.

21, 1953. Presented by bullfighter Mario Cabré, who romanced Ava Gardner, and comprising just 19 films, won by “La guerra de Dios,” directed by Rafael Gil., rescued from a potential Republican firing squad by Luis Buñuel not so many years before.

Fireworks, bullfights and quayside parties regaled the film week. From that first edition remain the beauty and gastronomy of San Sebastian, a Belle Epoque resort boasting the spectacular white-sand Concha Bay, steep-backed hills, an old quarter of higgeldy-piggeldy streets and a trio of three-star Michelin restaurants.

70 years later, San Sebastián still stuns. For its first 20 years, held under dictator Francisco Franco, San Sebastián proved, however, a window onto a freer world for a privileged elite, a window onto a freer world graced by Federico Fellini, presenting “Nights of Cabiria” (1957), Alfred Hitchcock who came for “Vertigo” (1958) and a still young Francis Ford Coppola, whose “Rain People” won its 1969 Golden Shell.

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