This year's San Sebastian film festival (September 18-28) has attracted some of the leading lights of world cinema to its shores, including Kim Ki-duk, Christophe Honore, the Coen Brothers, and Richard Eyre, whose film The Other Man will kick off proceedings tonight.
More than 1,600 accredited industry figures and a further 1,800 members of the international press will cram into the horseshoe bay on the Basque coast over the next 10 days to take in the impressive array of films, including the world premieres of Kim Ki-duk's film Dream and rising French director Honore's drama The Beautiful Person, both of which are in competition.
But it is the Spanish and Latin American films that will draw the most attention. Ones to watch in competition include Goya-award winning director Jaime Rosales' hard-hitting drama Bullet In The Head (Tiro En La Cabeza), Javier Fesser's Camino, Daniel Burman's Empty Nest and Belen Macias' El Patio De Mi Carcel.
While most industry figures will be familiar with the works of the first three directors, few will have heard of Macias - but that is likely to change over the next couple of weeks. Despite El Patio being her debut feature, Macias has managed to attract the heavyweight backing of Pedro and Agustin Almodovar's El Deseo and Warner Bros Espana to this drama about a petty thief who sets up a theatre group with fellow criminals, starring Candela Pena and Blanca Portillo.Outside of competition, the Horizontes Latinos and Zabaltegi New Directors sections also boast a selection of exciting world premieres from emerging local and South American talent, including Andrea Martinez Crowther's Cosas Insignificantes, backed by Warner Bros in Mexico; El Olvido, a documentary from Heddy Honigmann, whose film Forever competed at San Sebastian in 2006; Gabriel Velázquez's second feature, Amateurs, following Sud Express, which appeared in Official Selection at San Sebastian in 2005, and Daniel Hernández's feature debut Ordinary Boys.
'Films in the Horizontes Latinos section interest me as well as the new Ibero-American films in competition,' says Peter Marai, president of Santa Monica-based Condor Media. 'I look forward to seeing Empty Nest, Tiro En La Cabeza and Camino.'
Other Spanish-language projects will be showcased in the Films In progress section, which is one of the key events of the festival. 'I come every year to San Sebastian to find pearls in this section,' says Alexandre Mallet-Guy, president of Memento Films, who discovered a rough cut of Mexican director Francisco Vargas' debut The Violin in Films In Progress in 2005.
This year's eclectic line-up of Films In Progress projects includes Carlos Serrano Ascona's Mexican drama El Arbol about a man whose life falls apart around him, Cristian Jimenez's Chilean-Portuguese-French collaboration Ilusiones Opticas, which includes a story about a blind skier whose sight is restored, Rigoberto Perezcano's Norteado, which sees a young boy make several dangerous attempts to cross the border from Mexico into the US and Florence Jaugey's La Yuma, a Nicaraguan-Mexican drama about a girl in a poor neighbourhood who dreams of becoming a professional boxer.
In total there are 29 feature world premieres in all sections, compared with 23 last year, and five in official selection, one less than last year.