Rifkin's Festival

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Rifkin's Festival
Rifkin's Festival poster.jpg
Official poster
Directed byWoody Allen
Produced by
Written byWoody Allen
Music byStephane Wrembel
CinematographyVittorio Storaro
Edited byAlisa Lepselter
Distributed by
  • Tripictures (Spain)
  • Vision Distribution (Italy)
Release date
  • September 18, 2020 (2020-09-18) (SSIFF)
  • October 2, 2020 (2020-10-02) (Spain)
Running time
92 minutes[1]
  • United States
  • Spain
  • Italy
Box office$1.8 million[2]

Rifkin's Festival is a 2020 comedy film, written and directed by Woody Allen. An American-Spanish-Italian co-production, it stars Wallace Shawn, Elena Anaya, Louis Garrel, Gina Gershon, Sergi López, and Christoph Waltz. It premiered at the San Sebastián International Film Festival on September 18, 2020, and was released in Spain on October 2, 2020 by Tripictures. A short plot summary appeared in The Guardian on September 4, 2019, stating: "The movie, Rifkin’s Festival, is about a couple who fall in love while in town for the San Sebastián film festival, drawing on the annual event as the backdrop to a romantic comedy."[3]


Mort Rifkin is an eccentric elderly film critic from New York who goes to a film festival in San Sebastian, Spain with his much younger wife Sue in order to present a film. Rifkin becomes jealous of his wife's rapport with a French director whose film stands to win the main prize. Their relationship often goes far beyond professional. Meanwhile, Rifkin himself gets attracted to a local resident, an unhappily married doctor whom Mort visited due to his hypochondria. The magic of the beautiful town in Spain, the romantic mood, and the prestigious world film festival draw Mort and his wife into a whirlpool of adventures and temptations, changing the couple's life forever.

Many scenes in the film showings Mort's inner thoughts and fantasies are parodies of a number of well-known masterpieces (Citizen Kane as well as films by Ingmar Bergman, Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Federico Fellini, etc.) shot on the black-and-white film.



In February 2019, Amazon Studios dropped Allen from a five-picture deal to produce and finance films, following the revival of the sexual abuse allegations made against him in 1992.[4] That month, it was announced Allen would write and direct the film, with Jaume Roures producing under his Mediapro banner.[5] In June 2019, Gina Gershon, Christoph Waltz, Elena Anaya, Louis Garrel, Sergi López and Wallace Shawn joined the cast.[6] In July 2020, Richard Kind announced he would appear in the film.[7]


Principal photography began July 10, 2019, in San Sebastián, Spain and ended on August 16, a week ahead of schedule.[8][9]


In April 2020, Tripictures acquired distribution rights to the film in Spain.[10] It had its world premiere at the San Sebastián International Film Festival on September 18, 2020[11] and was released in Spain on October 2, 2020.[12] It was previously scheduled to be released in Spain on September 25.[13] It was scheduled to be released in Italy on November 5, 2020 by Vision Distribution,[14] but it was postponed to May 6, 2021, due to the CoViD-19 pandemic.


Box office[edit]

As of May 28, 2021, the film has grossed $768,449 in Spain and 1.8 million worldwide (Spain, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Italy and Russia).[2][15]

Critical reception[edit]

Rifkin's Festival holds a 56% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 16 reviews, with an average rating of 5.10/10.[16] On Metacritic, it holds a weighted average score of 43 out of 100, based on 6 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17]

Jonathan Romney of The Observer gave the film three stars out of five and stated, "In some ways, Rifkin’s Festival is absolutely familiar Allen territory, and, whatever else his detractors can or can’t accuse him of, there’s no way he’ll get off the charge of ploughing the same ground for the last couple of decades. Once again, he has made a brittle comedy about marital angst in a glamorous setting."[18] Jessica Kiang of The New York Times commented, "So 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."[19] Guy Lodge of Variety added, "His 49th feature, “Rifkin’s Festival” is the latest in a lengthy string of undistinguished bagatelles that might all be described as effortless, and not in an especially complimentary fashion."[20]

In a less favorable review, Kaleem Aftab of IndieWire gave the movie the C grade, writing, " There’s a strange meta quality to the way the movie drifts around, dipping in and out of a tepid plot. Of course, there’s no surprise here. Like a lot of recent Allen movies, it’s easy enough to figure out the intentions at hand early on."[21] Chuck Bowen of Slant Magazine gave the film one star out of four, noting "Decades into his iconic career, Woody Allen is still fixated on wannabe intellectual artists obsessively grappling with the meaninglessness of life as they have dalliances with much younger women who’re yearning for passion. That scenario was curdling into shtick some 40 years ago, but it at least felt personal to Allen in his salad days, when he was determined to fuse the existential agony of the films made by his heroes with his own scrappy, impertinent stand-up spirit. Now Allen is seemingly filming whatever writing spills from his typewriter, which is more often than not a copy of a copy of a copy of past hits, material so anachronistic and contrived that it feels closer to ritual than art."[22]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2021 8th Feroz Awards Best Film Poster Jordi Labanda Won [23]


  1. ^ "Rifkin's Festival". San Sebastian Film Festival. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Rifkin's Festival - Financial Information". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  3. ^ Agirre-Maskariano, Mikel (September 4, 2019). "The last thing my city needs is Woody Allen selling us to the world". The Guardian. London, England: Guardian Media Group.
  4. ^ Gardner, Eriq (February 7, 2019). "Woody Allen Sues Amazon for Terminating Movie Deal". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Eldridge Industries. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  5. ^ Maddus, Gene (February 7, 2019). "Woody Allen Files $68 Million Suit Against Amazon for Film Deal Breach". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  6. ^ Galuppo, Mia (June 4, 2019). "Woody Allen Sets New Feature With Christoph Waltz, Gina Gershon". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  7. ^ Wilstein, Matt (July 15, 2020). "Richard Kind Defends Woody Allen: 'I Just Don't Buy It'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  8. ^ Buckley, Cara (June 4, 2019). "Christoph Waltz Is Among the Stars Set for Woody Allen's New Film". The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  9. ^ Lang, Jaime; Hopewell, John (July 9, 2019). "Woody Allen's Next Film After 'A Rainy Day in New York' to Be Sold by FilmNation, Mediapro". Variety. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  10. ^ Grater, Tom (April 22, 2020). "Woody Allen's 'Rifkin's Festival' Secures Spain Distribution". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  11. ^ Grater, Tom (June 25, 2020). "Woody Allen's 'Rifkin's Festival' To Open San Sebastian Fest". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  12. ^ "Trailer for 'Rifkin's Festival', Woody Allen's new comedy". explica.co. September 11, 2020. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  13. ^ Aldarondo, Ricardo (May 1, 2020). "Aunque Woody Allen no pueda venir, el Festival aspira a tener la premiere de su película en San Sebastián»". El Diario Vasco. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  14. ^ ""Rifkin's Festival", esce il 5 novembre il nuovo film di Woody Allen". Il Messaggero. October 1, 2020. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  15. ^ "Rifkin's Festival". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved May 25, 2021.
  16. ^ "Rifkin's Festival (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  17. ^ "Rifkin's Festival". Metacritic. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  18. ^ Romney, Jonathan (September 18, 2020). "Rifkin's Festival review – Woody Allen's latest is a cinephile's dream (but only literally)". The Guardian. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  19. ^ Kiang, Jessica (September 18, 2020). "'Rifkin's Festival' Review: Woody Allen Travels to Movie Memory Lane". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  20. ^ Lodge, Guy (September 18, 2020). "'Rifkin's Festival' Review: The San Sebastián Sun Can't Heat Up Another Tepid Woody Allen Outing". Variety. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  21. ^ Aftab, Kaleem (September 18, 2020). "'Rifkin's Festival' Review: Woody Allen Makes Fun of Film History in Strange Self-Reflective Comedy". IndieWire. IndieWire.
  22. ^ Bowen, Chuck (February 21, 2021). "Review: Rifkin's Festival Is a Complacently Tossed-Off Misfire for Woody Allen". Slant Magazine. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  23. ^ Gonzálvez, Paula M. (March 2, 2021). "La lista de ganadores de los premios Feroz 2021". HuffPost.

External links[edit]