Spain's San Sebastian film festival gets underway

·1-min read

The San Sebastian film festival, Spain's most prestigious movie event, kicked off on Friday with celebrations marking its 70th anniversary, despite the last-minute withdrawal of Hollywood actress Glenn Close as jury president.

The festival will pay homage to the career of French actress Juliette Binoche and Canadian director David Cronenberg, both of whom will receive an honorary Donostia Award.

A total of 17 films will be competing for the top prize in an official selection that began on Friday with the screening of "Modelo 77" (Prison 77) by Spain's Alberto Rodriguez.

The movie starring Miguel Herran of Netflix hit "Money Heist" follows a group of prisoners demanding amnesty in the early years of Spain's transition to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

Eight-time Oscar nominee and three-time Emmy winner Close, 75, was due to preside over the seven-member jury but dropped out on Tuesday due to "a family emergency".

The judging panel will now be reduced to six members and chaired by Argentine producer Matias Mosteirin, who will announce the winners at the closing gala on September 24.

The festival is the fourth major European film gala of the year, following Cannes, Venice and Berlin.

Hollywood stars including Penelope Cruz, Liam Neeson and actor and director Olivia Wilde are expected to tread the red carpet in the northern port city.

One highly anticipated screening is "The Wonder", a British-Irish production about a young girl who survives months without food, directed by Argentina's Sebastian Lelio, who won the 2018 foreign film Academy Award for "A Fantastic Woman".