Festival de San Sebastián

San Sebastián, Spain. 2011 Design by Estudio Husmee


The San Sebastián Film Festival is one of the most important film competition in Spain, taking place annually in September in the Basque city of Donostia - San Sebastián. The 59th edition took place in 2011, its official poster was chosen through a contest for professionals: although not selected, Estudio Husmee's proposal is a strikingly good piece of identity.

Three posters were created: one for the main festival and two for side events. While each one has unique characteristics, the three share a common ground of ideas, structure and typographic arrangement. Identity is thus created by sharing elements like the subdivision of the available space in five parts and the use of contrast between blurred background and foreground text. While the functional aspect of the poster is immediately fulfilled by using clear columns of information at the top, its formal result has an added value of a strong idea behind


Authors explain: «We're trying to capture the essence of cinema, describing graphically the projection of a moving object. Usually this moving body would tell a story, but here it's giving us a message. With that, the poster is created, as the poster it's required to inform, it's a necessity.»

Movement, time: concepts clearly represented in these posters in a truly analog way. The core of the identity is in fact not the result of some digital generative algorithm, but the product of a concrete work.

«For the realization of the posters we used a Cabin Todee, an old slide projector with the aim of capturing the essence of cinema, playing with typography printed on transparent sheets and its shadows on a wall.»


Posters for Horizontes Latinos and Zabaltegi, two competitive sections included in the larger Film Festival.

The structure of the identity, that is the subdivision in five stripes, is the representation of time: five different frames of the moving message. The colors adopted are somewhat always related to the subject of the poster (for example the use of shades of orange and red depicting a sunset for "horizontes latinos"). And finally, the type chosen doesn't interfere with the overall quality of the project.

Creating an unmistakeable identity that goes beyond having a logo and a poster is the right approach for a festival, even though in this case the host city is not represented in any way.

«From our point of view, we consider important conveying an idea of union between the different categories of the festival, so that any other support independently made can be identified with the festival. We believe that having different graphics for each category scatters the message and makes them look like other festivals within the main one. Working with one main graphic allows it to be understood as a whole.»

Shots from the set (courtesy of Estudio Husmee).

Surely, to demonstrate the richness of this idea more examples could have been created (organizers might be blamed as well for not requesting more than a poster) but the concept is so strong it's easy to image how they would've looked.