New films from Martin Scorsese, Julie Delpy and Kim Ki-duk suggest it may be a vintage year at San Sebastian (Sept 16-24).
The San Sebastian International Film Festival (September 16-24) is many people’s favourite film event. It is the place for the Spanish industry to get together and for international visitors to catch up with titles they may not have had time to see in Toronto (the ever-expanding North American event is this year showing about 120 world premieres). San Sebastian’s laid-back vibe and world-class cuisine are renowned and this year it has secured the world premieres of several highly anticipated international films.
Martin Scorsese’s new music documentary George Harrison: Living In The Material World, is set to screen in the Zabaltegi — Specials section following its world premiere at Telluride. World premieres in Official Selection in competition include Kim Ki-duk’s new drama Amen, which shot mostly in Europe (Kim’s documentary Arirang picked up the Un Certain Regard prize in Cannes this year) and Julie Delpy’s family comedy Skylab, which is being sold by Films Distribution.
From Spain, Enrique Urbizu’s No Rest For The Wicked is a low-budget thriller starring Jose Coronado as a detective investigating the case of a missing girl who is caught up in a shooting. It is produced by Madrid’s Lazona with Telecinco Cinema. Filmax is handling sales and Warner Bros Spain will open it in late September.
‘Untouchable will be one of the big surprises of the festival. It’s fun and intelligent and will get people talking’
Jose Luis Rebordinos, festival director
Another Spanish competition title causing a stir is Benito Zambrano’s The Sleeping Voice, about sisters whose lives are torn apart during the Spanish Civil War. Hopes are high for its local run in Spain following the success of Agusti Villaronga’s post-Civil War drama Black Bread (Pa Negre) at last year’s San Sebastian. That title went on to sweep the board at Spain’s Goya awards.
Mikel Olaciregui, festival director for 10 years, has stepped down to be replaced by Jose Luis Rebordinos, a longstanding member of the festival’s board of directors (Olaciregui remains on the board and the selection team is largely unchanged).
Ahead of the festival, Rebordinos says he is particularly excited about the closing night film, Untouchable. It is written and directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache and is a French comedy about the odd friendship between a mismatched pair. One is a millionaire (played by Francois Cluzet) who has been terribly injured in an accident; the other is his carer (Omer Sy), a North African immigrant living in the poverty-stricken Paris banlieues.
“Untouchable will be one of the big surprises of the festival,” says Rebordinos. “It’s fun and intelligent and will get people talking.”
Screening out of competition, the film is being distributed in France by Gaumont, in Spain by A Contracorriente and has been picked up for the US by The Weinstein Company. Gaumont is handling sales.
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s Intruders is opening the festival. The local industry has high hopes for the title, which made its world premiere at Toronto (Universal Pictures International has taken worldwide rights).
Produced by Antena 3 and Apaches Entertainment and based on a script by Nicolas Casariego and Jaime Marques, Intruders tells the story of two families whose lives are turned upside down by menacing apparitions.
“Intruders is a Spanish film but with international characteristics,” says Rebordinos.
The line-up outside the Official Selection is also very strong, particularly the Zabaltegi sections. In New Directors, Spain’s Ignacio Ferreras is screening his animation Wrinkles, about the dreams and frustrations of a group of elderly people. Further titles of note include Simon Arthur’s dark drama Silver Tongues, Lim Woo-seong’s emotional drama Scars and Wild Bill, the directorial debut of UK actor Dexter Fletcher.
‘Intruders is a Spanish film but with international characteristics and it’s incredible’
Jose Luis Rebordinos
Zabaltegi — Specials boasts a diverse range of films, from Scorsese’s George Harrison documentary to Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo’s alien invasion comedy Extraterrestrial, which will have screened at Toronto.
Vigalondo was nominated for an Oscar for his short film 7:35 In The Morning and his feature debut TimeCrimes is set to be remade in the US by DreamWorks.
Also in the Specials section is Spanish director Eduardo Chapero-Jackson’s feature debut Verbo, about a young girl who escapes into a fantasy world. Chapero-Jackson’s three short films, Contracuerpo, The End and Alumbramiento, have picked up awards worldwide.
The strength of the festival’s line-up this year is reflected in the high-profile companies which have already confirmed their presence, including Universal, Warner Bros, Wild Bunch and The Match Factory. Around 3,000 members of the industry and press are expected at the festival.
A number of those companies will keep a close eye on the Films in Progress section, which shows unfinished Latin American films looking for completion funds and backing.
“The section has grown in stature and each year attracts more international buyers,” says Rebordinos.
New to this year’s festival are the Culinary Zinema section, which will showcase films themed around food, and 4+1 Contemporary Mexican Cinema, which highlights the latest films from the country.
Official selection: in competition
11 Flowers (Chi)
Dir Wang Xiaoshuai
Sales Films Distribution - firstname.lastname@example.org
Amen* (S Kor)
Dir Kim Ki-duk
Sales Finecut - email@example.com
Dir Mathieu Demy
Sales Bac Films - firstname.lastname@example.org
Blood Of My Blood (Port)
Dir Joao Canijo
Contact Midas Filmes - email@example.com
The Deep Blue Sea (UK)
Dir Terence Davies
Sales Protagonist - firstname.lastname@example.org
The double steps* (Sp-Switz)
Dir Isaki Lacuesta
Sales Tusitala Producciones Cinematograficas - email@example.com
Happy End (Swe)
Dir Bjorn Runge
Contact Swedish Film Institute - firstname.lastname@example.org
I Wish (Jap)
Dir Hirokazu Kore-eda
Sales Wild Bunch - www.wildbunch.biz
The Marziano’s Family (Arg)
Dir Ana Katz
Contact K&S Films - email@example.com
No rest for the wicked* (Sp)
Dir Enrique Urbizu
Sales Filmax - firstname.lastname@example.org
Dir Oren Moverman
Sales Sierra/Affinity - (1) 424 653 1977
The Reasons Of The Heart* (Mex)
Dir Arturo Ripstein
Contact Wanda Vision - email@example.com
Dir Julie Delpy
Sales Films Distribution - firstname.lastname@example.org
The sleeping voice (Sp)
Dir Benito Zambrano
Sales The Match Factory - email@example.com
Take This Waltz (Can)
Dir Sarah Polley
Sales TF1 International - sales@TF1.fr
Unfair World* (Gr-Ger)
Dir Filippos Tsitos
Contact Nueu Road Movies - firstname.lastname@example.org