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Daniel Burman, Christophe Honoré, Kim Ki-duk and Jaime Rosales will compete in the Official Selection at San Sebastian Festival

One of the creators of Dogme 95 movement, Kristian Levring, the North American Courtney Hunt and the Palestinian Rashid Masharawi, will also contend for the Golden Shell

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Acclaimed directors Daniel Burman, Christophe Honoré, Kim Ki-duk and Jaime Rosales feature among the Official Selection competitors at the coming San Sebastian Film Festival. They will be accompanied by one of the creators of Dogme 95 movement, Kristian Levring, the North American Courtney Hunt and the Palestinian Rashid Masharawi. These are the first confirmed names of contenders for the Golden Shell and other awards bestowed at the 56th San Sebastian Film Festival, to take place from 18-27 September. 

The Argentine director Daniel Burman will present his sixth feature, El nido vacío, a huge box-office success in his country, with over 300,000 spectators. This winner of the Silver Bear at Berlin Festival with El abrazo partido (Lost Embrace, 2004), not to mention a whole list of other prizes for his films Esperando al Mesías (Waiting for the Messiah, 2000), Todas las azafatas van al cielo (Every Stewardess Goes to Heaven, 2002) and Derecho de familia (Family Law, 2006), gives a twist to his trajectory, departing from the perspective of his own generation to approach the fears of a man on catching a glance of things to come in his life. 

Christophe Honoré, one of new French cinema’s most highly thought of directors, will compete at San Sebastian with La belle personne. Following the presentation at Cannes of his two latest features, Dans Paris (2006) in the Director’s Fortnight and Les Chansons d’amour (2007) in the Official Selection, Christophe Honoré transfers the essences of the classic novel La Princesse de Clèves to today’s Paris. This director, who launched his career with the features 17 fois Cécile Cassard (2002) and Ma Mère (2004), works once again with the actor starring in most of his films, Louis Garrel.  

The Korean director Kim Ki-duk, one of the great masters of contemporary Asian cinema, will also bring his new movie to San Sebastian. Bi Mong (Dream) looks at the paradox of couples while portraying the hidden desires of people who love and hate each other in the world of dreams. Kim Ki-duk, who will compete for the first time in the Official Selection, bagged the international critics’ Fipresci film of the year award at San Sebastian in 2005 for 3-Iron, while Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring won the Audience Award in the 2003 Pearls section. Other of his prize-winning films the world over are The Isle (2000), Samaritan Girl (2004), The Bow (2005) and Time (2006).

Goya award-winner for best director and best film with La soledad (2007), Jaime Rosales will compete at San Sebastian with his new film, Tiro en la cabeza. This director from Barcelona who debuted in feature films with Las horas del día (2003), garnering the Fipresci award at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, continues to explore the new forms of film language already causing surprise in La soledad (2007), a movie that went on to earn him international acclaim following its participation in the Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes Festival.

Having uncovered the might of contemporary Nordic cinema last year with its Cold Fever retrospective, San Sebastian’s Official Selection will include a work by the Danish director Kristian Levring. One of the creators of the Dogme 95, a movement to which he contributed with the film, The King Is Alive (2000), a competitor at Cannes, Levring will present Den Du Frygter (Fear Me Not), his fourth movie as a director, co-written with the Oscar-winning Anders Thomas Jensen. The film stars Ulrich Thomsen, winner of the Golden Shell for best actor at San Sebastian Festival for Brødre (Brothers, 2004). 

The Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi, author of films like Curfew (1994) and Ticket to Jerusalem (2002), winner of the Silver Pyramid at the Cairo Festival, and of documentaries including En direct de Palestine (2003) and Arafat, mon frère (2005), will compete at San Sebastian with Eid milad Laila (Laila’s Birthday), describing a normal day in Ramala through a judge forced to work as a taxi driver.   

The Official Selection will also present the debut of North American director Courtney Hunt, who will compete with Frozen River. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2008 and was qualified by Quentin Tarantino, member of the jury, as “a marvellous description of poverty in America.”



Director: Christophe Honoré.
Cast: Léa Seydoux, Louis Garrel, Grégoire Leprince–Ringuet.

A contemporary adaptation of The Princess of Clèves. Christophe Honoré, director of Ma mère (2004), Dans Paris (2006) and Les Chansons d’amour (2007) transposes the action from the court of Henry II to examine amorous pursuit in modern day Paris. Sixteen-year old Junie changes high school mid-year, following the death of her mother. She finds herself in the same class as her cousin Mathias, who introduces her to his friends. All the boys want to date Junie, and she chooses the quietest among them, Otto Clèves. But soon after, she encounters the great love of her life, Nemours, her Italian teacher. The passion that burns between them is, however, doomed. Junie refuses to give in to her feelings and persists in denying herself happiness, which in her eyes is merely illusory.


Director: Kim Ki-duk.
Cast: Odagiri Joe, Lee Na-young.

The prestigious Korean director Kim Ki-duk, author of The Isle, 3-Iron, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring and Time, will compete for the first time in the Official Selection with Dream. Jin (Joe Odagiri) wakes up from a nightmare of a traffic accident on the way to his ex-girlfriend’s home. The dream drives him to the very spot and stumbles upon an aftermath of an accident, which unfolded in the same way as his dream. He follows the police to the suspect’s home and watches Ran (Lee Na-young) deny the hit-and-run accusation since she was asleep the entire night. Jin explains his dream to the police and asks to be charged instead. The police dismiss him and arrest Ran. Jin is convinced that there’s an unexplainable connection between the two. He discovers that when he dreams, Ran unconsciously acts out his dream while sleeping.


Director: Kristian Levring.
Cast: Ulrich Thomsen, Paprika Steen, Emma Sehsted Høeg, Lars Brygmann.

Fourth feature from one of the creators of Dogme 95 movement, director of The King is Alive (2000). When Michael hears about a clinical trial for a new anti-depressant, he signs up on a whim.  Unfortunately, the pills turn out to have serious side effects and the trial is abandoned. Michael refuses to give up his new-found sense of calm and self control which the pills have provided, so decides to continue the experiment on his own. Intoxicated by his immediate success, Michael feels an urge to take control of other people’s lives as well. Slowly, his psychological games grow more drastic, until Michael makes a discovery which forces him to view his actions in a terrifying new light.


Director: Rashid Masharawi.
Cast: Mohamed Bakri.

From the Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi, author of Curfew (1994) and Ticket to Jerusalem (2002). Abu Laila (Mohamed Bakri) used to be a judge, but because the government does not not have the means to pay him anymore he is forced to be a Taxi Driver. On the day his daughter Laila becomes seven years old, his wife insists that he be home early with a present and cake. Abu Laila has nothing else on his mind then completeing this mission, but the daily life in Palestine has other plans ...


Director: Courtney Hunt.
Cast: Melissa Leo, Michael O’Keefe, Misty Upham, Mark Boone Junior.

First film from the North American director Courtney Hunt, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Festival 2008. Ray Eddy is about to buy her little family the house of her dreams. But when her gamble-loving husband takes off with the money, Ray finds herself alone with her kids and completely broke. Trying to trace her husband down, she meets Lila Littlewolf, a Mohawk girl who provides her with a plan for earning easy money. But the risks are high: smuggling immigrants on the frozen Saint Lawrence, with border patrols on both banks. Desperate for money, Ray accepts the offer: Ray will drive the car and they will share the cash. At first the ice is still thick, but as the deals go on and the Saint Lawrence gets thinner, Ray and Lila will discover that smuggling immigrants comes at a cost.


Director: Daniel Burman.
Cast: Oscar Martínez, Cecilia Roth, Arturo Goetz, Inés Efron.

Sixth film from the Argentine director Daniel Burman, author of Esperando al Mesías (2000), El abrazo partido (2004) and Derecho de familia (2006). El nido vacío explores the emptiness experienced when children grow up and leave home, suddenly revealing the marital cracks (hidden for years beneath the everyday noise and chaos of family life). In El nido vacío, it’s Leonardo, a successful if somewhat weary author, who finds himself in this situation. Uncomfortable in the social situations demanded by his life as a member of the middle classes in Buenos Aires, Leonardo behaves like a man on the verge of a middle-age crisis, indulgent towards his neurosis and phobic towards the changes occurring around him.  


Director: Jaime Rosales.
Cast: Ion Arretxe, Iñigo Royo, Jaione Otxoa, Ana Vila.

Ion is apparently a normal guy. He gets up in the morning, has breakfast, sorts his things, meets his lawyers. One night he meets a girl at a party. They spend the night together at her flat. His life follows its course uneventfully. A phone call in a phone box; a meeting with a friend; small, unimportant everyday situations. One day he gets into a car with another two people. They drive across the border to France. They spend the night at a couple’s house. The next morning, after a chance meeting in a roadside cafe, they kill two civil guards in plain clothes.


26 June, 2008

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