With one of the highest number of Michelin star restaurants per square metre, San Sebastian has long been considered one of the food capitals of the world. 

San Sebastian Beach
PICTURESQUE: San Sebastian

But, each September, the city privileges cinema over supper with its world-famous film festival. Celebrities, including Penelope Cruz, John Malkovich and Arnold Schwarzenegger regularly flock to the Basque Country for the glittering event. 

Running from September 18-26, the festival – now in its 68th year – will open with the premier of Woody Allen’s newest feature Rifkin’s Festival, starring Elena Anaya and Louis Garrel. 

ALLEN: The controversial director

Amid sexual assault allegations towards the American director, the selection of the rom-com to launch the programme hasn’t passed without controversy. However, Allen, 84, will not attend the festival himself, due to coronavirus fears. 

It has been a turbulent year for film festivals globally, with Cannes cancelled and Venice scaled down dramatically. Although the pandemic has inflicted new safeguarding measures – such as reduced screenings and obligatory masks – on San Sebastian, the event will see an exciting array of top-tier cinema normally reserved for the prestigious Cannes fest. 

ICONIC: Hitchcock at San Sebastian in 1958  (Credit: SSIF) 

Originally due to premiere on the French Riviera, Colombian filmmaker Fernando Trueba’s Forgotten We’ll Be will now instead close the festival in San Sebastian. An international premiere, all eyes will be on the city as the epicentre of global cinema in 2020.

Other notable features screening at the festival this year include Harry Macqueen’s British drama Supernova starring Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth and Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, starring Oscar award-winner Frances McDormand. 

STAR: Stanley Tucci

Esteemed Call Me by Your Name director Luca Guadagnino will chair the festival’s official competition jury and award one outstanding entry the Golden Shell for best film. 

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