The director of the San Sebastián Festival, José Luis Rebordinos, and the director of Kutxabank in the Donostia area, Gerardo Cangas, have revealed today at a press conference the titles of thirteen first or second films by European, Asian and Latin American directors that will be competing for the Kutxabank-New Directors Award.
This year in New Directors, the section that aims to make new filmmakers better known, that is, new ways of thinking about and making cinema, personal and family conflicts are addressed on a remote Russian farm, in 19th-century Vietnam, Yugoslavia at the start of the 1990s or modern Switzerland. These are some of the settings that the thirteen filmmakers that have been selected this year travel to. Eight of them will present their first films and the other five their second works.
Koldo Almandoz (San Sebastián, 1973) has had an intense career in the world of short films, linked to the Kimuak programme and to the San Sebastián Festival, which programmed his first short, Razielen itzulera (The Return of Raziel), in 1997 in Zabaltegi, the section in which two decades later he presented his first full-length film, Sipo Phantasma (Ghost Ship), after premiering it in Rotterdam. Oreina (The Deer) is his second feature film.
Elías León Siminiani (Santander, Spain, 1971), nominated for a Goya for Mapa (Map), is now presenting Apuntes para una película de atracos (Notes for a Heist Film). For her part, Nataliia Meshchaninova (Krasnodar, Russia, 1982), who competed in Rotterdam with her first full-length film, Kombinat ‘Nadezhda’ / The Hope Factory, focuses on the vet on a farm in Serdtse Mira / Core of the World. And after Ama Doren / Hold my hand, Ismet Sijarina in Nëntor i ftohtë / Cold November returns to the War in the Balkans, in this case to its background, when Kosovo’s autonomy was suppressed.
Hadrian Marcu (Brăila, Rumanía, 1976) will be presenting Un om la locul lui / A Decent Man, about a man who is torn by an emotional conflict, that was selected last year in the first Glocal in Progress, the industry activity at the Festival aimed at European films in non-hegemonic languages. It stars Bodgan Dumitrache, who won the Silver Shell for best actor last year for his performance in Pororoca.
The selection also includes the first film by Francisco Marise (La Plata, Argentina, 1985), Para la Guerra (To War), coproduced by the filmmaker, Javier Rebollo, who also takes part in the editing process, and the first film by Hiroshi Okuyama (Japan, 1996), the award-winning music video director, who makes his debut with Boku wa Iesu-sama ga kirai / Jesus.
The short by Inés María Barrionuevo (Córdoba, Argentina, 1980), La quietud (2012), competed in the official section at Locarno, and her first feature film, Atlántida (2014), was selected at the Berlinale in the Generation 14plus section. In Julia y el zorro (Julia and the Fox) she deals with a woman and her twelve-year-old daughter who are going through a mourning process. The director, producer and actress Lila Avilés (Mexico, 1982), after working in theatre and presenting shorts at international festivals, in her first full-length film, entitled La camarista (The Chambermaid), describes the everyday life of one of the so-called ‘chambermaids’.
After winning awards in his short-film career (with films like Teneriffa), Hannes Baumgartner (Männedorf, Switzerland, 1983) has been inspired in his first feature film Der läufer / Midnight Runner, by the true story of an athlete who starts to commit robberies and lead a double life.
Snow, the graduation film by Laurits Flensted-Jensen (Aarhus, Denmark, 1985), was selected at Rotterdam and was chosen as best documentary short by the Danish Academy. His fictional short Melon Rainbow was once again programmed at the Dutch festival and won the most important award at Odense. Neon Heart is his first full-length film.
After taking part in the Short Film Corner at Cannes with Grasshopper, the Vietnamese director Ash Mayfair (Ho Chi Minh City, 1985) is presenting her feature-film debut at San Sebastián with The Third Wife, whose screenplay was chosen by Spike Lee as the winner of his Spike Lee Film Production Fund Award in 2014.
The short film Luisa no está en casa (Luisa is not Home) by Celia Rico Clavellino (Seville, 1982) was chosen in the Short Film Corner at Cannes and at Venice and won the Gaudí award for best short. Her first full-length film, Viaje al cuarto de una madre (Journey to a Mother's Room), whose screenplay took part in the Berlinale Talents Script Station Lab, stars Lola Dueñas and Anna Castillo.
The remaining titles making up the New Directors section will be announced in the coming weeks. This section, forming part of the Festival’s commitment to upcoming film talents, is a platform that lends visibility to their films. The last three winners of the Kutxabank-New Directors Award have been released in Spain: Le nouveau / The New Kid (2015), Park (2016) and Le semeur / The Sower (2017).
The Kutxabank-New Directors Award, to be decided by an international jury, comes with €50,000 for the film’s director and distributor in Spain. Kutxabank’s sponsorship of the New Directors section comes as part of a wider participation, under which the financial institution continues to occupy its place this year as the Film Festival’s Official Collaborator.
The films screened in this section will also compete for the Youth Award, to be decided by a jury of 300 students between the ages of 18 and 25.
Elías is a film director whose dream was to make a heist movie. During the summer of 2013 he reads an article about the arrest of "The Robin Hood of Vallecas", leader of "the sewer gang", making him feel as though he may have found the opportunity to make his dream come true. He writes to Robin Hood in the prison where he is serving his sentence. Against all odds, Elías receives a reply three weeks later. Robin Hood agrees to receiving a visit from him in prison.
Yura is a young boy whose family leaves Tokyo to live with his grandmother in the snowy countryside. Not only must he fit in at a new school, but it's a Christian one to boot. At first he's puzzled when he and his classmates are called to "worship", but he gradually adjusts to his new environment. One day, in the middle of a prayer, he sees a small Jesus appear before him. Every wish Yura makes to Jesus comes true, and he starts to have faith in the power of the Lord.
Jonas Widmer, one of the best runners in Switzerland, is focussed on participating in the Olympic games. Besides sports, Jonas is also a successful cook and plans to move in with his girlfriend, Simone. But Jonas's perfect life is increasingly disturbed by memories of his late brother. He starts leading a tragic double life, robbing young women at night. Based on a true story.
Julia, an ex-actress, and her daughter Emma, move into a mansion in a village of Córdoba, Argentina. It's winter and Julia has to get the house into shape to sell it. Despite the time to have passed since her husband and Emma’s father died, they are still in mourning. The days go by gloomily. Grief has made Julia quiet and cool with her daughter. One night, Julia runs into Gaspar, a life-long friend. Gaspar tries to convince Julia to take part in a theatre competition. Julia, Emma and Gaspar find a way to rebuild their lives by starting a somewhat shaky project to form a new type of family.
Young Eve works as a chambermaid in one of Mexico City's most luxurious hotels, an exclusive glass tower inhabited by guests so wealthy she can only imagine their lives through intimate fantasies around the belongings they've left behind. Long, laborious shifts prevent Eve from caring for her son while she helps guests with their own children. Believing her situation will improve if she is promoted to work in the executive suites, she accepts a grueling schedule. To meet her goal, she also enrolls in the hotel's adult education programme...
In the early '90s, the Yugoslavian Government cancelled the autonomy of Kosovo, dissolved its Parliament and closed down the National Television. All institutional life was reorganized by the new authorities, while the majority of the citizens responded with peaceful demonstrations. During this terrible time, Fadili, who works as an archivist, has to choose between two options, knowing that both of them are wrong. He therefore involuntarily and unwillingly "swallows" the shame, endures the pressure bearing down from all sides and puts up with the bad reputation for only one reason: to provide for his family.
Neon Heart is a story about three people who are chasing life and each other. Laura comes home to Denmark after a short-lived porn career in the USA. Despite the remaining online videos of her, she tries to put the pieces of a normal existence back together. Niklas, Laura's ex, is a recovering addict who finds meaning in his new job taking care of two men with Down's syndrome. As he develops newfound empathy for the pair, he begins to bend the rigid rules of his role, leading him down a slippery slope. Frederik, Niklas' teenage brother, is out to gain respect as a hooligan, peer-pressured into difficult situations and forced to negotiate the demands of masculine bravado. In glimpses and fragments of the past and present, we follow Laura, Niklas and Frederik on a journey full of taboos and desires where connections are made and torn apart.
Khalil is a young man torn from his roots who lives on the edge of town, where the industrial estates merge into the river and the marshes. Khalil gets by as best he can and spends his time with an old poacher, who shares a house on the riverbank with a brother he hasn't spoken to in years. On the banks of the marshes, the tides mark the time of love and heartbreak, of friendship and revenge.
Para la guerra explores the memory and loneliness of a former Cuban internationalist soldier by observing his body and his (extra)ordinary gestures. This is a war film with no shooting, but with a wound: that of this special forces veteran who tries to find the colleagues of his commando who survived their last mission 30 years ago.
Egor is a 25-year-old vet on a rural farm which doubles as a hunting dog training center using domesticated foxes. Although he is a grown man, deep inside he is a wounded child who finds it easier to get along with animals than with people. In desperate need of a controlled environment after a violent past relationship with his mother, all he wants is to care for the animals and to feel part of the close-knit family he works for. When animal rights activists invade this fragile microcosm, upsetting its delicate balance, Egor's world begins to crumble...
In 19th century rural Vietnam, 14-year-old May becomes the third wife of wealthy landowner Hung. Soon she learns that she can only gain status by asserting herself as a woman who can give birth to a male child. May's hope to change her status turns into a real and tantalizing possibility when she falls pregnant. Faced with forbidden love and its devastating consequences, May finally comes to an understanding of the brutal truth: the options available to her are few and far between.
Petru is a drilling engineer living in a community of oil industry workers. He has mixed feelings. On the one hand he is about to marry his pregnant girlfriend Laura, on the other he is involved with the wife of one of his colleagues, Sonia, the victim of a serious accident at work. His new life seems about to begin while she feels hers is ending. When Laura finds out about his relationship with Sonia, all hell breaks loose. Petru feels terrible guilt, but also responsibility for the baby-to-be. Participant in the first edition of Glocal in Progress.
Leonor wants to leave home but she doesn't dare tell her mother. Estrella doesn't want her daughter to leave, but she isn't able to keep her by her side. Mother and daughter will have to face up to a new stage in their lives in which the world they share is wavering.