In a press conference hosted by festival director José Luis Rebordinos, the San Sebastian Film Festival announced it will drop its gendered prizes for its 69th edition, to be held on-site and partly online from Sept. 17-25. Rebordinos also confirmed this year’s official competition sections and unveiled the festival’s main poster, which features a smiling Sigourney Weaver.

Rebordinos explained that the festival will no longer make a gender distinction in performance awards, and that the Silver Shell for best actor and best actress will be replaced by the Silver Shell for best lead performance and best supporting performance.

“The change arises from the conviction that gender, a social and political construct, is no longer a criterion that we follow to distinguish between performances,” he elaborated. “The criterion for the jury will be to distinguish between good and bad performances, so we will be joining our friends at the Berlin Festival on the path that they have already started down.

“These are times of change and decision making. We are closely following the current debates within the feminist movement on this and other issues. We have no certainties, but we do have the will to continue evolving and to help build a fairer and more equal society,” he finished.

Other more temporary changes were announced, including limitations regarding physical attendance at many of the festival’s venues. The Velodrome, for example, will not host its traditional high-capacity screenings as the largest exhibition space at the fest, nor will there be any opening and closing parties. The festival will, however, host Flowers in Hell: The Golden Age of Korean Cinema, a retrospective meant for last year’s edition.

This year’s competition sections stick to the same formula established at past editions, including the New Directors, Horizontes Latinos, Zabaltegi Tabakalera, Perlak, Culinary Zinema and, celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Nest section for student filmmakers.

Before the presentation finished, Rebordinos also unveiled this year’s official poster which features a black and white photo of American actor Sigourney Weaver bordered by pastel paint splotches. Weaver proved a highly popular winner of a Donostia Award, the festival’s career achievement equivalent, in 2016.

“The festival is pleased and honored to announce that the image for its 69th edition will be Sigourney Weaver, an exceptional actor much loved by the public who has shone in the entire range of genres with characters that form part of the universal imagery of cinema,” said Rebordinos.

Adhering to a growing trend among many international festivals, San Sebastian is pushing for greater year-round relevance, and launched today its Z365 platform as a means to that end. Accessible on the festival’s website anytime from anywhere, visitors can find content concerning the festival proper as well as browse a new section which includes activities organized by the festival during the rest of the year.

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69th San Sebastian Festival official poster Courtesy of San Sebastian Festival