Peter Mullan’s “Neds” and Kim Jee-woon’s “I Saw the Devil” dominated proceedings during the first weekend at San Sebastian, the largest festival in the Spanish-speaking world, which opened Friday.
Mullan’s gritty Glasgow gang drama drew heartfelt applause at Sunday’s press screening, emerging as an early competition favorite.
Gory revenge thriller “Devil,” also playing in competition, prompted an early trickle of walk-outs — as it did in Toronto. Fanboys, however, greeted the controversial thriller as further proof of Kim’s talent.
Magnet Releasing acquired “Devil” at Toronto for North America. At San Sebastian, Finecut’s Youngjoo Suh said she was now negotiating Germany and Latin America sales.
Of other first-weekend players, Carles Bosch’s documentary “Bicycle, Spoon, Apple,” a portrait of former Barcelona mayor Pasqual Maragall’s battle with Alzheimer’s screened to a packed and highly appreciative 1,800-strong audience. Sagrera distribs “Bicycle” in Spain.
Diego Luna’s “Abel” opened Horizontes Latinos and heads the Euskaltel Youth Award contenders.
At fest’s opening ceremony on Friday, Brit actress Olivia Williams, repping Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer,” picked up the Grand Prix for best film of the year from the Fipresci Intl. Federation of Film Critics. “For some reason, I can’t think what it is, Roman couldn’t be here tonight. He’s so paranoid,” she joked.
Director Alex de la Iglesia, fresh off Venice plaudits for “The Last Circus,” accepted Spain’s National Cinema Prize.