Rifkin’s Festival – the newest film written and directed by Woody Allen – premiered at the San Sebastián Film Festival. We have pictures of press conferences and the stars who were on ground, as well as first reactions.
The premiere took place on 18 September 2020, the opening day of the festival. Leading up the day was a press conference where Allen and Wallace Shawn appeared on screens, with Gina Gershon and Elena Anaya on ground. Jaume Roures, CEO of Allen’s Spanish production company MediaPro, was also on the panel.
PRESS CONFERENCE ''RIFKIN´S FESTIVAL'' (OFFICIAL SELECTION) https://t.co/W2icOiJKzL
— Donostia Zinemaldia – Festival de San Sebastián (@sansebastianfes) September 18, 2020
“I remembered the San Sebastian Film Festival and how beautiful and charming it was. So, I thought: ‘Why don’t I write a film about San Sebastian. The outstanding thing I recalled was its festival.”
Allen also discussed how much European cinema meant to him growing up in the US.
Gershon, Anaya and Roures did their own interviews during the day.
Press Junket from #RifkinsFestival.
At 9pm, world premiere of the film. pic.twitter.com/suGl1e2WlC
— MEDIAPRO (@GrupoMEDIAPRO) September 18, 2020
Anaya and Gershon spoke to El Pias together. Anaya reveals that Allen cut scenes from his original script. Says Anaya:
“The funny thing is that during the filming Woody began to remove pages, he got up from his chair to say that It bored him and there was a lot of dialogue, and even in editing he has polished and eliminated sequences.”
Both women defended working with Allen, and support Allen’s assertions. Gershon was particularly damning on haters.
“When they found out that I had accepted the project, it bothered me that many people whispered to me: ‘I think he’s innocent’; and, while, in public, they declare otherwise. Get up and be honest.”
The two also did a photo shoot.
Finally, some reviews have been filtering through. Some seems to praise the film reluctantly, but most seem to agree that the film is a crowd pleaser with lots of good jokes.
It’s a relief to report that “Rifkin’s Festival” is, to the ravenous captive, like finding an unexpected stash of dessert: not substantial and not nutritious, but sweet enough to remind you in passing of the good times you once had, despite all that’s happened in the interim.
It seems impossible but Woody Allen will be 85 in December and he can still do it, he can still make a trenchant, absurd, fantastically funny comedy that is on its face improbable but altogether winning. Almost from the very beginning of this story about an unhappy couple who travel to the very same San Sebastian Film Festival you are laughing from down deep.
This fitfully entertaining film could be called adventurous, while the reliably cranky Shawn and a stately, vampish Gershon are clearly having a good time and letting us in on it. Allen may not have found any breakthrough inspiration, but Rifkin’s Festival at least has its riffs.
“Rifkin’s Festival” is a notch above middling Allen comedies like last year’s “A Rainy Day in New York,” thanks to delightful turns from Shawn and Gina Gershon as well as some zany stabs at film history in a series of black-and-white dream sequences that seem as if they’re lifted from those earlier, funnier days.
“Exuding an aura of nostalgia, Rifkin’s Festival isn’t a movie about the San Sebastián Film Festival, but about the festival that each of us can create in our minds using memories of our own favourite films; works which – as happens to the protagonist of this cheerful and forgettable comedy – help us to move onwards through our meaningless existences, full of setbacks, betrayals, snobbery, lies and unfulfilled expectations: the perfect material for a chat on the therapist’s couch. And a fitting addition to the Woody Allen franchise. Enjoy your trip!”
Rifkin’s Festival opens in Spain on 2 October 2020.