The San Sebastian International Film Festival kicked off its 49th edition yesterday (Sept 20) with the screening of The Safety Of Objects by Rose Troche, and a surprise announcement that Warren Beatty would be the recipient of a third Donostia Award. Beatty, like fellow Donostia recipient Julie Andrews, will not be present to receive the award owing to the "uncertainty" of circumstances following last week's attacks in New York and Washington.

This year's 49th edition of the festival, like Toronto before it, has already been inevitably affected by global political and social turmoil in the wake of the attacks on the US. Other actors, including Barbara Hershey and Anthony LaPaglia, also cancelled anticipated trips to San Sebastian. Actress Leonor Watling and Basque presenter Edurne Ormazabal hosted the festival's evening inaugural ceremony in the ultra-modern Kursaal auditorium.

Troche, directors Todd Solondz and Otar Iosseliani, and jury members Claude Chabrol, Giuseppe Bertolucci, Eloy de la Iglesia, Florinda Bolkan, Yvonne Blake, Jorge Edwads and Sandra Hebron were among the celebrated guests. Perhaps in allusion to the absence of so many anticipated stars, jury president Chabrol called San Sebastian "a place we all love. People who come here, return - there will always be people at this festival." Troche confirmed that the lead actors of Objects, Glenn Close and Dermot Mulroney, were "not able to join us because of the things that happened in New York - they decided to stay home with their families." San Sebastian's third Donostia recipient, Spanish actor Francisco "Paco" Rabal, passed away unexpectedly last month on his trip home from receiving a lifetime achievement award in Montreal. The festival runs through Saturday, September 29, closing that evening with Spanish director Carlos Saura's Bunuel And King Solomon's Table (Bunuel Y La Mesa Del Rey Salomon).