The 68th edition of Spain’s San Sebastian Film Festival will open with the world premiere of Woody Allen’s latest movie Rifkin’s Festival, which shot in the town last summer and takes place during a fictional edition of the fest.
Rifkin’s Festival stars Elena Anaya, Louis Garrel, Gina Gershon, Sergi López, Wallace Shawn, and Christoph Waltz in the story of married American couple who go to the San Sebastian Festival and get caught up in the magic of the event, the beauty and charm of the city and the fantasy of movies. She has an affair with a brilliant French movie director, and he falls in love with a beautiful Spanish woman who lives there.
This year’s San Sebastian Film Festival remains set for September 18-26.
The project is the fourth collaboration between Allen and Spanish major MediaPro. It will be distributed in Spain by TriPictures, and The Mediapro Studio Distribution is handling international rights.
Allen and San Seb have a history, with the director having raised the curtain at the 2004 edition with Melinda and Melinda. That year the fest also awarded him the prestigious Donostia Award and dedicated a retrospective to his work.
Nevertheless, the choice of opener will raise eyebrows, given that Allen remains something of a controversial figure in the industry, particularly in the U.S., after sexual abuse allegations against the director from his ex-partner Mia Farrow have continued to re-surface.
The selection will put added scrutiny on San Sebastian, which is taking something of a risk in that headlines around its opening may be dominated by the continuation of the debate around Allen and whether he should be championed by the industry. The festival is already going to see itself in an enhanced spotlight as one of the first major European events to go ahead following widespread coronavirus cancellations.
Allen continues to strenuously deny the allegations against him, which involve his daughter Dylan Farrow, and he has his supporters. The filmmaker came out fighting in a series of interviews with press earlier this year around the eventual release of A Rainy Day in New York, which was previously shelved by distributor Amazon after the streamer pulled a rich deal with the filmmaker; Allen sued and reached a legal settlement. “I assume that for the rest of my life a large number of people will think I was a predator,” the director told The Guardian.