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Almodovar, Egoyan among 400 petitioners protesting Gijon director's dismissal

The dismissed director of Spain’s Gijon Film Festival gets support form Almodovar, Egoyan, Solonz and 400 otherpersonalities of world cinema.

Last week, José Luis Cienfuegos [pictured], the director of the International Gijón Film Festival in Spain, was dismissed, causing an outcry from press and industry. Now, the furore grows with an international protest. 

Nacho Carballo, a little-known film maker who has worked with José Luis Garcia, was appointed as new director.

But a letter of support to Cienfuegos began to circulate and at this stage, with signatures being added every day.

As of now, about 400 hundred directors have refused to participate in the festival because they don’t recognise the legitimacy of the new management.

Important filmmakers who have already backed this letter include Abel Ferrara, Atom Egoyan, Todd Solondz, Monte Hellman, Hal Hartley, Tom DiCillo, Carlos Reygadas and leading Spanish directors Pedro Almodóvar, Fernando Trueba, Agustí Villaronga, Jaime Rosales, Alex de la Iglesia, Isabel Coixet and others. Spanish press and critics are also expressing support for Cienfuegos.

When contacted by Screen International, Jose Luis Cienfuegos refused to make any further statement than a press note he sent last week. In that, he pointed out the spectacular rise of the number of spectators from 10,000 when he started in 1995, until last edition’s 75,000. He also passionately defended his work and his team’s during 16 years, and thanks his supporters.

Carballo told ScreenDaily today [Thursday] that there will be no statements until next week, when he will be in charge of his new position. He noted: “At no point we have said that we condemn Mr. Cienfuegos’ management. We are going to be even more modern and iconoclastic than before. We are being misjudged.” 

Carballo’s statements suggesting that Gijón would foster “local cinema”, referring to the Asturian region that is home to Gijon, have stirred protest. “That has been misunderstood,” he said. “We will create a place of gathering for Asturian film makers and foreigners. That will be one encounter. It is logical that we do so. That does not mean in any case that the Festival is going to be a provincial event.”

Asked if he has any intention to resign after the filmmakers’ petition refusing to work with the Festival, Carballo points out that the manifesto opens a door when it says that “unless it is proven in a credible way that there will be a continuity with the previous line” and he seeks the chance to show what they are going to do. 

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