23rd / 24th September 2017: San Sebastián Film Festival (Spain)

23rd September 2017: Let’s go!

The other weekend I headed off to San Sebastian as a Weekend Escapade to the International Film Festival that is held over there because they were projecting a Japanese film and the main actor and the director were coming over to present it. The film was “Sandome no Satsujin”, the director is Hirozaku Kore-eda and the actor in question was Fukuyama Masaharu, of whom I am a big fan.

I started off at 22:00 on Friday as I had to take a bus to go to Intercambiador de Avenida de América, which is one of the bus hubs in Madrid. My bus to San Sebastián left at 00:30, so in the end I had to wait for almost two hours until I could board. I was dozing for most of the trip so it did not feel too long. I arrived in San Sebastián bus station at around 6:50 in the morning and I had decided that I would go to the so-called Shell Beach (Playa de la Concha) to watch sunrise. I had been told that cafeterias would be open at that time, but not even the one in the bus station was ready.

concha night

My plan of watching a sea sunrise was trumped by the fact that the sea is towards the west, but I still could take a couple of nice pictures.

concha day

Among them were the beach itself, the “skyline” and the Good Shepherd Cathedral (Catedral del Buen Pastor).

I wandered around, found the theatre where the film was going to be projected and as the sun started warming up, I started feeling less like a homeless dog.

I found the local Starbucks at around 9:00 to get some rest, a coffee, and a cookie before I went to the Aquarium, which opened at 10:00. The San Sebastián Aquarium is a bit more of a museum than anything else. The first part (second floor) is dedicated to the history of ocean commerce, with different types of ships, and rooms focused on the local harbour, companies, traditional boat racing and whaling. This includes an actual right whale skeleton and several sperm whale teeth and some baleens. The second part (first floor) is dedicated to general fishing and the local oceanography society, including machinery and live specimens.

Finally, after all this, you get to the actual aquarium (yay). There are several small tanks and then a big tank with a walk-through tunnels. The inhabitants are pretty standard, with lots of small fish and several magnifying-glass tanks to make the animals look bigger than they are. The third floor hosts the tropical fish including the piranha and the clown fish. All in all it is a nice place, however, it was under construction and some tanks were covered by dark plastic. After that I left the aquarium and I decided to go up Mount Urquil, which hosts a castle and quite nice views of the city and the ocean.

I walked by John Malkovich while heading there, but he did not look like he was in the mood (or the clothes) to be recognised, so I did not bug him. Then I started my climb up the mount towards the La Mota Castle along the batteries of cannons. The castle has a small history museum, and a look-out balcony, and the top has been transformed into a church, with a giant Christ overlooking. The truth is I was mostly improvising on my visits as the week was hell between work and the death of a family member.

After that I had lunch and headed off to the theatre to check out the coming out of people. At this point I planned to wait for the actor and the director to come into the theatre, but for some reason I checked out the schedule, and the name of the actor had been taken out of the presentation! That made me sad for a little while, but I decided that I was okay with it, that it would not be a drama. I had taken my chance, and at least I had gotten some air after all the pain and drama throughout the week. I guess that helped relativise the sadness. I went to a park near the beach to get some sun and enjoy the last days of summer.

Around 15:00 I returned to the theatre to start lining as I wanted a seat close enough to see the subtitles- and I found a place on sixth row which was pretty good. As this was a special people’s vote session, we got a ballot to give our opinions. Then I settled to wait, and eventually at 16:00 the presenter came in, and to my surprise, she announced Kore-eda and Fukuyama. That made me so happy I could have died right there and then, and the best was still to come. Kore-eda told us about the film. Apparently several people consider that he has changed genre, but he told us that he disagrees and that he still tried to make a human drama. However, he thought that we should judge. Then Fukuyama told us that he enjoyed San Sebastián and that they had been having pinchos and that he was happy to have returned. I was shaking so hard I could barely hold the phone as I recorded.

All this would have made me very happy already (you can for a commentary of the film). However, there was more to come and at the end of the film both Kore-eda and Fukuyama had stayed behind. as I was coming out I looked up and told them “otsukaresama deshita”, and both of them bowed and replied “arigatou”. Then we waited for them to come down from the second floor, from where they had taken the ovation. I dropped my vote and rushed through the red carpet. As other people talked to the director I made a beedive towards Fukuyama. It was then or never, and it turned out to be then.

I was shaking inside but I managed to tell them that I had been a fan of his since Galileo times and I asked for his autograph. He told me thank you (at some point the interpreter tried to help, but I was busy dying and trying to get my meaning across). He signed my Galileo booklet and I asked him to take a picture with me, to which he also agreed. And thus I fulfilled my wildest dreams (and look horrible in the picture). After Fukuyama had continued on the red carpet I managed to sit down on a curb and I was on the phone with my friend from Mis Ilusiones Asiáticas, who prevented me from going completely hysterical in fangirl bliss. After this I was pretty dead so I headed off to he hotel (pension) that I had booked for the night, and pretty much giggled and crashed, and uncrashed and giggled some more. At 23:00 I was completely zonked out, not without realising that I had headed to get some rest without grabbing my freebies and some merchandising I wanted from the festival.

Remember that you can read the film critique and so on over at semirandom:

24th September 2017: And back

I left the hotel early, around 8:30 to head towards the cinema area and buy the short Festival guide (not the big one for 22€ but the little one for 1.5€) and get the free newspaper. I bought a coffee to go and headed back to the bus station, when my bus was at 10:00. I could not sleep and the Wi-Fi was not working, but I could watch Youtube videos on the seat screen. I managed to get home around 17:00 after a couple of buses, and I was pretty much dead. However, it was totally worth it. I think this is why I was hyper enough to decide to go to Vienna next month…

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