San Sebastian film fest ousts director Barnet

Rudi Barnet, director-general of the San Sebastian Film Festival for the last two years, was removed from his post in a general board meeting Monday.

The board moved unanimously to offer the position to two candidates: Diego Galan, who was fest director at San Sebastian from 1986-89, and Fernando Lara, current director of the Valladolid Film Festival. Galan and Lara are submitting their respective proposals and conditions to the board within two weeks, when a final decision will be made.

Per a statement released by the board, the decision to remove Barnet was reached by mutual agreement owing to “failure to agree on terms for the direction and management of the festival for 1993.”

Barnet was appointed as director general of the festival in 1991, with a four-year contract. But inhouse criticism from the ranks of the various government bodies sponsoring the fest–the Spanish culture ministry and the San Sebastian local government — reached such proportions this year that most observers had already tagged the situation as impossible to resolve without a change.

San Sebastian, Spain’s largest and most important festival, has suffered one crisis after another in recent years. This will be the third change in the top post in three years.

Barnet’s appointment was controversial from the outset, as he was Belgian and considered by many as a “foreigner” unfamiliar with the local lingo–both linguistically and politically–necessary to run Spain’s biggest film event. Spanish candidates Lara and Galan are both highly respected for their track records as fest directors.

The Valladolid Festival, which Lara has run for the last 10 years, is generally lauded as the best-organized festival in Spain.

Galan, who resigned as director of the San Sebastian film fest in 1989 over disagreements with the local government representatives at the time, most recently served as director of film programming for the Expo ’92 World’s Fair in Seville.

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