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SAN SEBASTIAN FILM FESTIVAL

Competing actors, but best of friends

Antonio de la Torre and Javier Cámara are both up for prizes

Francesc Colomer (left), Javier Cámara and Natalia Molina in a scene from Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados.
Francesc Colomer (left), Javier Cámara and Natalia Molina in a scene from Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados.

They were lovers in Pedro Almodóvar's recent comedy Los amantes pasajeros (or, I'm So Excited!), and they are now competing for an award at the 61st San Sebastián Film Festival, a long-running event with a glamorous past that opens September 20 at the Basque resort town.

Antonio de la Torre and Javier Cámara, two of Spain's top actors, met recently at a Madrid restaurant to share a few laughs and discuss their respective projects, Cannibal , directed by Manuel Martín Cuenca (screening September 23 at the festival's Official Section), and Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados (or, Living is easy with your eyes closed), directed by David Trueba, and scheduled for release the following day.

"I'd be happy to see you win the Silver Shell, Antonio... almost as much as if I were to win it myself," joked Cámara, who has starred in other Almodóvar films such as Talk to Her and Bad Education . "I wish you the same," retorted De la Torre, who also played a leading role in Almodóvar's Volver .

In Cannibal , De la Torre plays a respectable tailor from Granada who happens to like the taste of human flesh; he is without remorse until he meets a woman named Nina, who turns his life around. Meanwhile, Living is easy ..., which takes its title from the Beatles song Strawberry Fields Forever , portrays an unlikely friendship between an English teacher who travels to Almería when he hears that John Lennon is making a film there, a 16-year-old runaway and a young woman who also seems to be trying to escape from something.

Antonio de la Torre enjoys a tasty meal in Manuel Martín Cuenca's movie Cannibal.
Antonio de la Torre enjoys a tasty meal in Manuel Martín Cuenca's movie Cannibal.

While Spain-made movies are set to enjoy a strong presence at the most important film festival in the Spanish-speaking world, international productions have always drawn particular media interest. It was here that Alfred Hitchcock held the world premiere of Vertigo and North by Northwest , and where Woody Allen chose to release Melinda and Melinda in 2004.

This year, San Sebastián will present the premiere in Spain of the documentary series The Untold History of the United States , directed by Oliver Stone, and the new epic film Alexander: The Ultimate Cut , which was shot by the US director in 2004.

Another world premiere will bring the festival to a close on September 28: The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet , the latest work from French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet, known internationally for Amélie , Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children . Jeunet will participate in the closing ceremony along with the stars of his movie, Helena Bonham Carter and the child actor Kyle Catlett, according to festival organizers. Filmed in 3D, this French-Canadian co-production follows the adventures of a 12-year-old cartography genius, who secretly leaves his parents' ranch in Montana to accept an award at the Smithsonian Institute.

But it is an Argentinean director who gets to open the festival on September 20: Juan José Campanella brings audiences an out-of-competition animation film, Futbolín , which has broken box office records back home.

Latin America is further represented by Mexico's Fernando Eimbcke with Club Sándwich and Venezuela's Mariana Rondón with Pelo Malo , both of which are competing for San Sebastián's top prize, the Golden Shell, against major figures of film such as Bertrand Tavernier and Roger Michell. Additionally, there are 11 movies from Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay competing in a separate section called Horizontes Latinos.

The 61st San Sebastián Film Festival will be presenting the actress Carmen Maura with a lifetime achievement award, "as a tribute to one of the most outstanding professional careers in Spanish cinema in the last few decades." Maura, known to international audiences for her roles in Almodóvar films such as Women On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Volver , will receive the Donostia Award during the presentation of Las brujas de Zugarramurdi , the latest zany comedy directed by Álex de la Iglesia, in which she features.

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
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