The San Sebastian International Film Festival today confirmed the departure of festival director Diego Galan (Screendaily, July 18). He will be replaced in 2001 by Mikel Olaciregui, currently sub-director of the event.

Galan, who steps down for personal reasons, has helmed the festival since 1995 and between 1985 and 1989. Between 1993 and 1995 he was a general advisor to San Sebastian. He will stay on as part of the selection committee after 2001.

The changes won't go into effect until several months after this year's 48th edition of the festival, to be held September 21-30. A festival press release made clear that the announcement was made in advance to avoid any connection between Galan's decision and this year's event.

Galan is credited with heightening the international profile of San Sebastian and injecting it with a dash of glamour. He is a respected author on the history of Spanish cinema and a former film critic with national newspaper El Pais.

Olaciregui, 44, is also a well-known figure in the local industry. He was recruited to the festival in 1993 from Basque public television channel Euskal Telebista, where as director of production and later director of programmes he was responsible for amplifying televised coverage of the festival. He also previously played an active role on the Basque government's feature film subsidies commission.

Olaciregui is not expected to bring major changes to San Sebastian. Under Galan, the festival has grown to become one of Europe's premiere events, all the while maintaining its intimate and relaxed ambience.

"This is not a replacement of Diego Galan, but rather a continuation of the work he has carried out in recent years and which has brought the festival to its current moment of splendour," San Sebastian mayor and president of the festival management committee Odon Elorza said today at a press conference given in San Sebastian.