by HFPA September 27, 2013

  Every year thousands of film fans, foodies--- and a few HFPA members---head to San Sebastian, drawn by a combination of an eclectic slate of movies at the annual film festival and more Michelin star restaurants per head than anywhere else in the world.

Since moving its opening date to five days after the Toronto festival closes, San Sebastian has been enjoying a new prominence with a high profile selection of films, increased industry activities, stronger ties with Latin America, audience development and a growing presence of U.S. stars and productions.

"It's been very good to change our policy because we're achieving a great status as the entrance door to Europe for films that have previously gone to Canada," said festival director Jose Luis Rebordinos. "Last year we saw the great success of Argo and this year we are happy to have high-profile projects such as Atom Egayon's Devil's Knot and Bernard Tavernier's Quai d'Orsay."

This year the 61st edition of the San Sebastian Festival kicked off with the opening gala at the Kursaal Auditorium presented by the actors Cayetana Guillén Cuervo and Unax Ugalde.

Some of the notable faces from the international cinema world who visited the festival during an intense week of activities, screenings and events with the focus on film included:

Annette Bening, who presented The Face of Love, the opening film of the Pearls section; Michelle Yeoh, who was guest of honour at the Culinary Zinema as the star of the film to open the section, Final Recipe and Oliver Stone, who  brought his documentary series The Untold History of the United States and also presented Alexander: The Ultimate Cut, a newly remastered cut of Alexander.

Terry Gilliam returned to the Festival with his latest film, The Zero Theorem and Roger Michell, director among others of Notting Hill and Enduring Love, presented his new movie, Le Week-end, along with its stars, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan and the writer Hanif Kureishi, author of the screenplays for My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid.

Hugh Jackman, whose Prisoners was one of the hits with the festival audiences, was presented with the Donestia Award in recognition of his body of work. He follows in  the footsteps of Tommy Lee Jones, who received the award last year and previous winner Woody Allen.