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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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Sevilla European Film Festival, revamped 100% European

The sun certainly shone on Sevilla's successfully revamped 100 Per Cent European Film Festival, which ran from 3rd to 11th November 2006 in the sensuous Andalucian city.
(Actually, much of the downtown of this beautiful southern Spanish metropolis is currently scarred by the construction of a new underground transport system so not only the flamenco dancers have to watch their steps to cross from one florid architectural wonder to the next. Personally, I am rather fearful that whenever the first trains, or subterranean trams start to transit beneath the world's third largest Gothic cathedral, the celebrated Giralda tower may well topple over).Venue for several attempts to establish a film event to rival those of San Sebastian, Valladolid and Valencia, Sevilla's festival has now blossomed from one previously devoted to Cinema and Sport(when the city was hopeful of becoming host to the 2012 Olympic Games) but now under the careful direction of academic Manuel Grosso has for the third time brought more film-makers, and paying cinephiles, to a splendid celebration of new and classic European films.

Arriving mid-fest, and apparently bringing the sun from London,I found temperatures of 23 grad C, which rose each day until by the time of the clausura the city and guests were basking at 30 degrees and more, ensuring not only lunches but breakfasts too could be enjoyed alfresco. I also found a strong programme of films in many sections, a fine- and well-translated- catalogue, and the 17 competitive features and sundry gala screenings conveniently housed in one of Europe's most gorgeous auditoria, the belle epoque Teatro Lope de Vega, which also housed the festival offices,ticket and info desks,press room and press conferences, and a well stocked bar and terrace for nightly cocktails.
In the heart of the city, the theatre and adjacent casino were constructed for the Exposition in the 1920s (nearby is the Plaza de Espana monument, cleverly used by David Lean to evoke Cairo in "Lawrence of Arabia") and close by are a wealth of cafes, bars and restaurants which cater to festival guests at beneficial rates.

But my first appointment was in the nearby University, for a tea-time Masterclass in a superb setting - the Paraninfo, a red velvet - lined lecture hall in the building that I believe formerly was the Tobacco Factory where "Carmen" rolled her eyes, and cigars on her thighs). By no small coincidence, as this year the Festival dedicated its parallel country Focus to Italy, the Maestro on the panel was none other than Francesco Rosi, accompanied by his long-time friend and scenarist, the inimitable Tonino Guerra, and introduced by legendary Parisian critic Michel Ciment. Two hours of splendid cine-talk ensued in Spanish, Italian, French, and English, with an audience of enraptured students and professionals.(The festival screened several classic films created by the pair-indeed including Carmen in the high-tech multiplex Nervion Plaza, a brisk 15-minute walk away from most of the hotels,and gave both of them honorary trophies at a moving ceremony later in the week, with a lovely lyrical concert of Italian film music by a similarly talented duo of musicians from the host country).

This year the Official Jury was presided by Margarethe von Trotta, who can not be accused of partiality in awarding the runner-up prize to the brilliant German Stasi drama "Das Leben der Anderen". A nice touch was giving ex-aequo their Special Jury Prize to old masters still young at heart, Otar Iosseliani(who accompanied his charming contemporary satire "Les jardins en automne") and Claude Chabrol(who could not introduce "L'Ivresse du Pouvoir" because he was already busing filming another one).

To general delight, the top award went to Great Britain, and Roger Michell's inter-generational sad comedy, "Venus", recently unveiled at the London and Leeds Film Festivals.Not only an ornamental memento - La Giraldilla(a miniature copy of the Cathedral's minaret)- but many thousands of euros, destined to aid the distribution of the films in Spain-usefully accompany the awards.

PHILLIP BERGSON

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