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57th San Sebastian Fest heats up

Spanish preem of Tarantino's 'Basterds' warms crowd

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain — Helmer Atom Egoyan’s “Chloe” opened the 57th San Sebastian Festival on Friday, but Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt stole the day’s show.

In town for the Spanish preem of “Inglourious Basterds,” they proved a winning double whammy. Their Friday afternoon press conference saw San Sebastian’s biggest journo turnout in years, plus a crowd left outside the press room.

That said, the press conference was quite contained. 

“What’s left of that guy who used to work at a videostore?” one journo asked Tarantino, who replied, “I think I’m the same guy, just extremely more fulfilled.”

Of future projects, Pitt said he was still trying to get “Moneyball” off the ground and had James Gray’s British spy adventure drama, “The Lost City of Z,” in development at his Paramount-based Plan B banner.

As Pitt departed, his reception from screaming girls was worthy of the Beatles.

Tubthumping “Chloe,” a StudioCanal-financed Montecito production, Egoyan proved rather more sober, talking knowingly about filmmaker Luis Bunuel and the kinks in sexual desire. 

At the fest’s opening ceremony, Margaret Menegoz, producer of Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon,” accepted the Fipresci critics’ prize for best film of the year. 

Arguably the fest’s biggest world preem, Fernando Trueba’s romantic thriller “The Dancer and the Thief,” bowed Saturday out of competition and was generally liked. Sunday saw an early competition front-runner emerge in Juan Jose Campanella’s noirish romantic drama “The Secret in Their Eyes,” which played to sustained applause at a press screening.

Latido-sold “Eyes” has closed deals for Mexico (Gussi), Scandinavia (Sandrew Metronome) and Latin America in very early sales.

Other weekend films with upbeat receptions included Cary Fukunaga’s “Sin nombre” and Rigoberto Perezcano’s semi-comedic immigration drama “Norteado,” on which sales company Latinofusion is negotiating North American rights. 

San Sebastian’s industry quotient is beefed up this year by a near-complete turnout of France’s international sales sector. Execs from Fortissimo, the Match Factory, Trust-Nordisk, Focus Features Intl., TLA Releasing, Strand and Media Asia are expected to attend.  

Fest runs through Sept. 26.

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