During the 45 days that the filming of Rifkin’s festival, Woody Allen recorded in the most touristic, recognized and symbolic settings of San Sebastián. It was his particular love letter to this city, which now wants to return the compliment with an interactive route that will allow locals and walkers to enter the universe of the New York filmmaker and visit the main enclaves that appear in his latest film.
The film shot by Allen at the Bella Easo during the summer of 2019 was conceived as a tribute to San Sebastián and the great directors of classical cinema, as the New York filmmaker said: “I want to show the world my vision of San Sebastián as a paradise, just like I did with New York ”. The film, whose world premiere was held on the opening day of the San Sebastian Film Festival in September 2020, stops at the best pearls of the city: La Concha beach, the Old Town, the Victoria Eugenia theater, the Kursaal or the Comb of the Wind by Chillida. There are 10 locations that make up a cinematographic, tourist and gastronomic itinerary at the same time.
The proposal will allow the passer-by to “feel like the protagonist of Woody Allen’s film,” says the San Sebastian mayor of Tourism, Cristina Lagé. The route has a distance of 8.3 kilometers that can be completed on foot in about three hours. It is indicated on Google Maps and offers information about the film, curiosities and anecdotes from the filming, as well as a gastronomic guide to the bars and restaurants that Allen and his family and the actors of Rifkin’s festival.
The journey in the footsteps of Woody Allen starts at the Kursaal, headquarters of the Zinemaldia and one of the central locations of the film. From the avant-garde conference center designed by Rafael Moneo, an imaginary red carpet leads the passerby to the magic triangle of the festival formed by Okendo Square, the Victoria Eugenia Theater and the María Cristina Hotel. The third stop is in the heart of San Sebastian’s Old Town, at the confluence of Zuloaga square, the San Vicente church and the San Telmo museum, where one of the festival’s festivities is played with Sert’s murals in the background. From there you have to go to the kiosk on the Boulevard and then go into the Gipuzkoa Provincial Council palace, where a scene of The exterminating angel (Luis Buñuel).
The sixth location runs through Plaza Bilbao, the María Cristina bridge and the Paseo Arbol de Gernika, a boulevard with modernist buildings and Art Nouveau details that dazzled the American director. The overhang of the Paseo de La Concha and the emblematic beach are other of the most beautiful sets for the film, where two of the protagonists, Gina Gershon and Louis Garrel, walk in love. You reach the Miramar Palace, another symbol of the city, where Allen recreated the office of Mort Rifkin’s New York psychiatrist and, in the garden, installed a door and a fence to simulate a scene from Citizen Kane (Orson Welles).
The route then stops next to the Comb of the Wind, the steel sculpture curled by the wind and the sea that Eduardo Chillida created. And the tour ends at the Palacio de Aiete and its park, where Allen filmed in black and white to represent Mort Rifkin’s childhood dreams, with which he wanted to pay tribute to other of the great film masters, Federico Fellini. Following these 10 milestones, a journey through the places of the city that the director of photography of the film, Vittorio Storaro, tried to represent in all its splendor, closes.
“That a director of Allen’s category has used the city of San Sebastián as a canvas on which to paint his film, only makes us even more proud of our great city,” says Lagé. To publicize and energize the route, the San Sebastián Tourism entity has created a contest on social networks, through which participants will be able to win two nights of bed and breakfast for two at the María Cristina hotel.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.