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Almodovar, Egoyan, Solondz boycott Gijon fest

Manifesto calls for director Cienfuegos' return

MADRID — Pedro Almodovar, Atom Egoyan, Todd Solondz, Monte Hellman, Hal Hartley, Victor Erice and Abel Ferrara are among a group of 375 film biz folk who announced Wednesday they are boycotting Spain’s Gijon Film Festival, unless former director Jose Luis Cienfuegos is reinstated.

Cienfuegos was sacked Jan. 11 by the nine-month-old right-wing party Foro de Asturias, which controls the Gijon Town Hall, fest’s main backer.

Published as part of a manifesto, the dramatic protest is spreading to the rest of Europe, the U.S. and Latin America.

It includes Fernando Trueba, Geraldine Chaplin, Harmony Korine, Latin America’s Carlos Reygadas and Lucia Puenzo, and three of the four best pic nominees at February’s Goya Awards: Enrique Urbizu, Almodovar and Mateo Gil.

Appointed in 1995, Cienfuegos turned the low-budget Gijon into Spain’s premier distribution launchpad for edgier indie movies worldwide.

Cienfuegos “transformed a minor film event into a highly-respected regional, national and international showcase,” the manifesto read.

It underscored Gijon’s programming quality, “its unique identity and its budget-to-audience ratio,” and questioned the experience of Cienfuegos’ successor, Spanish a.d. Nacho Carballo, plus his idea for animation and TV sections. Moves would dilute Gijon’s core identity, the manifesto argued.

Festivals are often treated as political patrimony in Spain, with fest heads rolling after government change.

Wednesday’s unprecedented protest comes as Spain’s industry fears slash-and-burn austerity cuts in culture budgets.

But Gijon’s a case apart.

“Naturally, cuts will be made,” director Jonas Trueba told Variety. “But what’s so frustrating is the threat to an event which achieved so much with so little money.”

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