×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Diego Galan, a Decisive Director of Spain’s San Sebastian Festival, Dies at 72

Spanish film critic Diego Galán, a decisive, and longtime, artistic director of Spain’s San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival, died April 15 in Madrid. He was 72.

Born in Tangiers, Morocco, in 1946, Galán began from 1967 to write in Nuestro Cine with a generation of reviewers – Angel Fernández-Santos, Miguel Marías, Francesc Llinás, Vicente Molina Foix, José Luis Guarner – who would  shape film criticism in Spain for a generation.

A film critic from 1970 in Triunfo, a weekly film magazine which pushed for democracy in a country ruled until 1975 by the arcane dictator Francisco Francisco, Galán discovered one of his vocations writing and directing the TV series “Memorias del cine español” for Spanish public television TVE from 1977, as Spanish film began to be taken more seriously by a young generation of critics.

Galán would write at least 12 books from 1973, beginning with “18 españoles de la posguerra.” He played an equally vital role in a pre-video age, however, allowing Spaniards, for whatever motive, to re-see Spanish movies made under Franco, which include now acclaimed masterpieces and a vast cannon of underrated or simply forgotten filmmakers.

Over 1980-85, Galán served as the lead film critic for El Pais, Spain’s most influential upscale daily newspaper, which had become a bible for left-leaning Spaniards during Spain’s 1975-82 transition from dictatorship to democracy. His journalism coincided with years of large volatility  at the San Sebastián Festival which lost its Fiapf “A” grade in 1980.

Dated late September, the festival struggled  to find a new identity in democracy which would allow it to compete with festivals of far larger budget and renown such as Venice Festival which took place just a couple of weeks before and scooped most all of the late summer world premieres.

Appointed a consultant to the San Sebastian Festival in 1985, Galán took over as artistic director in 1986, served in that role until 1989, returning in 1993-94 as a general consultant under Manuel Pérez Estremera, before becoming sole director of San Sebastian Festival from 1995 to the end of its 2000 edition.

Spanish Film Director Diego Galan Poses During the Photocall For His Movie 'Manda Huevos' That Competes in the Official Section of the San Sebastian International Film Festival in San Sebastian Spain 16 September 2016 the 64th Edition of the Film Festival Runs From 16 to 24 September Spain San SebastianSpain Cinema - Sep 2016
CREDIT: Javier Etxezarreta/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Affable, conciliatory, commanding the support of Spain’s critical establishment and key producers from Spain and Latin America who gave the festival significant world premieres, and sensitive to the multiple demands placed on the San Sebastian Festival, with Perez Estremera Galán navigated San Sebastian’s transformation into the most important film event in the Spanish-speaking world, which allowed it to retain a global importance.

At the same time, to slake San Sebastian town’s huge thirst for stars, Galán launched the Premio Donostia career achievement award in 1986, bringing Gregory Peck to San Sebastián, Glen Ford the next year. Its high point in terms of historic Hollywood icons was the visit in 1989 of Betty Davis, who lapped up the adulation of the crowds who flocked to the Maria Cristina Hotel to salute her, and proved as fearsome in person and at a press conference as was her legend. She died two days after leaving San Sebastián in a hospital in Paris.

Coverting San Sebastián’s Velodrome  into a big screen cinema for films at the festival, after putting through an orderly transition of power to Mikel Olaciregui for San Sebastian’s 2001 edition, Galán returned to his other love. He directed showcases of Spanish cinema for TVE, such as 1992’s “Queridos cómicos,” wrote copiously about the San Sebastián Festival, such as in the book “Jack Lemmon Nunca Cenó Aquí,” and directed two documentaries linking telling excerpts from Spanish films, 2012’s “Con la data quebrada,” selected for the Cannes Festival, exposing the arrant sexism of much Spanish cinema under Franco, and a 2016 follow-up, “Manda Huevos,” nailing its machismo. The titles capture Galán’s hallmark sense of humor, a prerequisite of any director of the San Sebastian Festival, but especially in its 1980s and early 1990s.

Ss02-19980508-san Sebastian Spain: Diego Galan the International Film Festival of San Sebastian½s Manager During a Media Conference in San Sebastian 08 May 1998 Presents the Poster For the Next Edition of the Festival Which Will Be Celebrated From 17th - 26th September Epa Photo Efe/antonio Alonso/bg/kr Spain San SebastianSpain - Film Festival/galan
CREDIT: Antonio Alonso/EPA/REX/Shutterst

More Film

  • Lorraine Warren dead

    Lorraine Warren, Paranormal Investigator Who Inspired 'The Conjuring,' Dies at 92

    Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigator and demonologist whose life inspired franchises like “The Conjuring” and “The Amityville Horror,” has died. She was 92. Warren’s son-in-law Tony Spera confirmed the news. Spera said on Facebook, “She died peacefully in her sleep at home.” He continued, “She was a remarkable, loving, compassionate and giving soul. To quote Will [...]

  • THE EXORCIST

    'Exorcist' Star Max Von Sydow Doesn't Let Age Define His Roles

    Max von Sydow turned 90 this month, which is a milestone for most people, but age has always seemed incidental to the actor. When he played the elderly, frail Father Merrin in “The Exorcist,” von Sydow was 44 — meaning he was the same age Bradley Cooper is today. In the 1950s, von Sydow had [...]

  • 'Changing the Game' Documentary

    Watch the First Trailer for Trans Documentary 'Changing the Game' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Another hurdle for trans rights could quite literally be the track and field hurdle. Transgender student athletes are put in the spotlight in the forthcoming documentary “Changing the Game,” set to premiere at 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Variety has the world premiere of the doc’s first teaser trailer, which gives an in-depth look into the [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Box Office

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Conjures $2.8 Million on Thursday Night

    “The Curse of La Llorona,” the latest entry in Warner Bros. and New Line’s “Conjuring” universe, conjured $2.75 million from Thursday preview showings, while “Breakthrough,” a faith-based offering from Fox-Disney, brought in $1.5 million from its second day of screenings. “La Llorona’s” haul tops recent horror counterparts “Pet Sematary” and “Escape Room,” which each took [...]

  • Chinese Films Make the Cannes Lineup,

    Cannes: Chinese Films Make the Lineup, but Will They Make It to France?

    Cannes has chosen two mainland Chinese titles for its official selection: Diao Yinan’s “Wild Goose Lake,” in competition, and Zu Feng’s “Summer of Changsha,” for Un Certain Regard. Both films appear to have received the necessary official approvals from Chinese authorities to premiere overseas. But their journey to the Cote d’Azur is by no means [...]

  • Festival director Thierry Fremaux speaks to

    Cannes: Thierry Fremaux on the Lineup's Record Number of Female Directors, American Cinema and Political Films

    The Cannes Film Festival has unveiled a lineup for its 72nd edition that includes some high-profile Hollywood titles, genre movies and films from 13 female directors. The official selection has been applauded by many for mixing established auteurs like Pedro Almodovar (“Pain and Glory”), Terrence Malick (“A Hidden Life”) and Xavier Dolan (“Matthias and Maxime”) [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content