First steps

Other perspectives on the visual history of the San Sebastian Film Festival (1953-1970)

In October 2020, the team of the research project Zinemaldia 70: All Possible Histories began conservation, cataloguing and research work on the photographic representation of the San Sebastian International Film Festival based on materials preserved in the Festival archive and the Kutxateka collections. This exhibition, which focuses on photographs dating back more than 50 years (from the founding of the Festival in 1953 to 1970), brings together the first conclusions of this work in progress. The first steps of the Festival, therefore, but also the first steps of a critical investigation into its visual history.

Traditionally, the Festival's imaginary in these years has been built on a very limited repertoire of images: great directors portrayed in emblematic places, stars posing on the red carpet, exclusive parties with the participation of celebrities.

The aim of our team has been different: to pay attention to the out-of-field of this dominant imaginary, in search of photographs that allow us to build other gazes. Through this selection of thirty photographs, we propose to glimpse a series of political, gender and class tensions that have generally gone unnoticed in the classical narratives of the Festival.

On the one hand, beyond the traditional representation of the stars, the exhibition looks at the women who participated in the Festival in professional positions far from the media focus or ignored by the dominant histories of cinema, from the first three female filmmakers who competed in the Official Section to journalists, programmers, workers and producers. The selection also examines the mechanisms of reification of the film star as an object of consumption and media fascination.

On the other hand, the exhibition focuses on the outside of the red carpet, reflecting on the social and symbolic boundaries that were drawn between the popular expectation aroused by the Festival and the exclusivity and elitism of most of its official events. Through this reflection on the inside and outside of the Festival, the exhibition also interrogates the presence of the apparatus of Franco's dictatorship at the event and its instrumentalization as an international showcase for the regime - but also the chinks of freedom that opened up within the framework of the Festival.

This exhibition has been curated by the research team of the project Zinemaldia 70: All Possible Histories of the 2020-21 academic year, directed by Pablo La Parra Pérez and formed by EQZE students Amaranta Díaz, Ekhiñe Etxeberria, Laida Mendia, Pablo Lillo and Oderay Ponce de León.

This exhibition was co-produced by Kutxa Fundazioa, the San Sebastian International Film Festival and Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola