New York helmer preems latest pic at San Seb fest

SAN SEBASTIAN — One figure dominated Friday’s opening day at the 52nd San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival: Woody Allen.

His latest completed film, the world-preeming “Melinda and Melinda,” kicked off the official section. Pedro Almodovar flew up from Madrid to hand Allen, the subject of a fest retro, a lifetime-achievement Donostia Award at the fest’s opening gala ceremony.

“Two people have shaped my vision of New York, Superman for its skyline and Woody Allen for its streets,” Almodovar announced.

Pondering on what he had achieved in a lifetime, Allen said his films might at least be a cure for insomnia.

Allen was accompanied on stage by “Melinda” topliners Radha Mitchell, Amanda Peet, Chloe Sevigny and Chiwetel Ojiofor.

“Melinda and Melinda” itself was greeted with enthusiastic applause at the Spanish press screening in the morning and by the local luminaries after the gala showcase.

“I’ve two theories about my films’ popularity in Europe: I grew up loving European films, and directors make films they loved when they were younger; secondly, and I’m not being facetious, the faults of my films are not so obvious in translation,” Allen said.

“Anything Else” grossed $3.2 million in Spain; “Hollywood Ending” $3.1 million; “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” $6.0 million.

While not a reflection on “Melinda,” Allen lamented that the problem with Hollywood was that studio execs wanted input in a project.

“There are lots of people who want to make a film with me, but they always want to have creative input,” he complained.

In other highlights of the opening ceremony, Ruth Waldburger, producer of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Notre musique” picked up the FIPRESCI international critcs association award for the best film of the year, and read a clept, despairing poem by Godard: “When we close the book, it won’t be so bad, for we have seen so many people live badly and so many people die too.”

Fest runs Sept. 17-25.

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