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You are in: Home > 2021. 69th Edition  > News > Thirteen first and second films to compete for the Kutxabank-New Directors Award
Thirteen first and second films to compete for the Kutxabank-New Directors Award
Among the selected works are five films from the Festival’s works in progress initiatives and from the Co-Production Forum
Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

A total of thirteen productions from 15 countries will compete for the Kutxabank-New Directors Award at the San Sebastian Festival, whose 69th edition will run from September 17-25. Of the total works selected, nine are first works while the remainder are second films by their authors, as explained today at a press conference by the San Sebastian Festival director, José Luis Rebordinos, and the director of the Kutxabank Gipuzkoa Network, Ainhoa Arruabarrena.

Philippe Grégoire is one of the moviemakers who will present his feature film debut in New Directors. Having participated in over a hundred festivals with his shorts, the Canadian will compete with Le bruit des moteurs / The Noise of Engines, an autofiction based on his past experience working as a customs agent to cover the cost of enrolling at film school.

Having participated in programmes including Berlinale Talent and First Films First, the Turkish filmmaker Selman Nacar directed the project earning him last year’s WIP Europa Industry Award and WIP Europa Award at San Sebastian, İki Şafak Arasında / Between Two Dawns, focusing on concepts of conscience, family, and justice.

Also selected for WIP Europa was the Slovenian Darko Sinko, director and producer of documentaries and short films, whose first feature Inventura / Inventory follows a man, who after a tragical event learns that his life might be an illusion and that more people might hate him than he imagined.

Likewise, New Directors will also include the first-time feature of Korea’s Hong Sung-eun, who in Hon-ja Sa-neun Sa-ram-deul / Aloners follows the adventures of a woman whose life changes when her neighbour is found dead in his apartment.

The Argentine Mara Pescio will present her debut behind the camera, Ese fin de semana / That Weekend, the project selected for the Co-Production Forum at San Sebastian Festival in 2017. The film narrates a mother’s reunion with her daughter after a long time without seeing each other.  

Following its screening at Sundance Festival, North American actor Fran Kranz will screen in New Directors his first film as a filmmaker, Mass, a work about forgiveness and guilt with a cast featuring Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton.

Javier Marco, who also comes with long experience in the field of short films –he landed the Goya Award with A la cara (2020)– and was selected for Berlinale Talents and Reykjavik Talent Lab, will participate with Josefina / Josephine, a story written by Belén Sánchez-Arévalo starring Emma Suárez and Roberto Álamo.

For his part, the Uruguayan Agustín Banchero will present Las vacaciones de Hilda / Hilda’s Short Summer, a project selected for Films in Progress 36 (the programme now going by the name of WIP Latam) about a lonely woman who relives memories of a summer in the past.

Russian director Lena Lanskih, who has written and directed short films shown at various festivals, will participate with her first feature film, Nich'ya / Unwanted, which follows the adventures of an adolescent faced with all sorts of problems when she has an unwanted child.

Among those to present their second features in New Directors are the Colombian Juan Sebastián Mesa, who, after winning the Audience Award at the Venice International Film Critics’ Week with his debut, Los nadie (2016), will participate with La roya / The Rust, a tale of rural identity conceived at the Festival de Cannes Cinéfondation residence and presented in San Sebastian’s WIP Latam (2020) and in the Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum (2017).

The Romanian Emanuel Parvu, who has also worked as an actor with directors including Cristian Mungiu, Adrian Sitaru and Constantin Popescu, bagged the best director and actor awards at Sarajevo Festival with his debut, Meda or The Not So Bright Slide of Things (2017) and will now compete at San Sebastian with Marocco / Mikado, a film about decisions, distrust and guilt.

Having participated in New Directors with Tigre (2017), the tandem formed by the Argentine Silvina Schnicer and the Catalonian settled in Buenos Aires, Ulises Porra, returns to the section with Carajita, following the breakdown of the relationship between a young girl and the nursemaid who raised her.

The Chinese filmmaker Sun Liang, whose first work Kill the Shadow (2017) was selected for Montreal and Shanghai, among other festivals, will compete with Shu Qi Shi Guang / Lost in Summer, about a teenage boy struggling to deal with the confusion in his life.

All of the films in this section compete for the Kutxabank-New Directors Award, coming with 50,000 euros distributed in equal parts between the director and the distributor of the film in Spain. The Kutxabank-New Directors Award is sponsored by Kutxabank, an official Festival collaborator. The Jury of the Kutxabank-New Directors Award has the task of appraising and granting the awards to these films. Films in the New Directors section are also candidates for the TCM Youth Award, decided by a jury of students between the ages of 18 and 25 years.

New Directors is San Sebastian Festival’s most obvious example of its commitment to new talents; but it’s not the only one. First and second works are programmed in almost all of its sections, while others are shown in Nest, the competitive section for short films by students from film schools all over the world. The Festival also heads, together with Tabakalera and the Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola, the programme of residencies providing support to innovative audiovisual projects, Ikusmira Berriak.



Silvina Schnicer (Argentina), Ulises Porra (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Dominican Republic - Argentina
Cast: Cecile Van Welie, Magnolia Núñez, Adelanny Padilla, Genesis Buret, Javier Hermida, Richard Douglas, Clara Luz Lozano, Yuberbi De La Rosa

Sara and her nanny Yarisa have a relationship that seems to transcend their class conditions: they are the closest thing to a daughter-mother, but an accident will test their intimate loyalty and the innocent illusion that nothing can separate them.

© Murillo Cine Maravillacine
Mara Pescio (Argentina)
Country(ies) of production: Argentina - Brazil
Cast: Miss Bolivia, Irina Misisco, Laura Kramer
VI Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum

Julia returns to her neighborhood, from which she left years ago after a scam. She has to sign a permission to authorize her daughter to emigrate with her father; but, above all, she needs to recover the money she left there, that would solve many problems for her. This reunion with her past will not turn out as expected.

Hong Sung-eun (South Korea)
Country(ies) of production: South Korea
Cast: Gong Seung-yeon, Jung Da-eun, Seo Hyun-woo, Park Jeong-hak, Kim Hannah, Kim Mo-beom

Jina is the best employee at a credit card company call center. She avoids building close relationships, choosing instead to live and work alone. Jina maintains her solitary lifestyle well until her irritating neighbor, who would attempt to strike up conversations with her, is discovered dead a few days after his lonely death. From that moment, tons of relationships she decided to ignore suddenly start to bug her: her father hounding her over her mother's inheritance, Sujin, a new recruit, who is bothersome but likeable, and nonchalant Seonghun, her new neighbor.

Selman Nacar (Turkey)
Country(ies) of production: Turkey - France - Romania - Spain
Cast: Mücahit Koçak, Nezaket Erden, Burcu Gölgedar
WIP Europa 2020

After a worker is severely injured in their family business, Kadir is forced into making a moral decision, which will have an impact on his dreams, his family and the life of the injured worker’s wife.

Darko Sinko (Slovenia)
Country(ies) of production: Slovenia
Cast: Rados Bolčina, Dejan Spasić, Mirel Knez
WIP Europa 2020

Boris Robic is, as we say, an ordinary kind of bloke. One evening, however, someone tries to shoot him. The investigations reveal nothing. No enemies, no suspects. You could say that Boris is the last person anyone would want to kill. After the police close the investigation, Boris decides to make his own enquiries. As he searches for the suspect, we see the tragi-comedy unfold of a man who discovers that a lot more people hate him than he ever realised, and that the way he sees his own life was an illusion.

Javier Marco (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Cast: Emma Suárez, Roberto Álamo, Miguel Bernardeau, Olivia Delcán

Juan, a prison officer, silently observes the visit every Sunday of Berta, mother of one of the inmates. The day he finally approaches her, he surprises himself by pretending to be the father of a made-up daughter inside the jail: Josefina. The need to fill the vacuum of their lives prompts Juan and Berta to continue meeting beyond the reality around them.

© Foto por Alejandro Pérez Ceferino
Juan Sebastián Mesa (Colombia)
Country(ies) of production: Colombia - France
Cast: Juan Daniel Ortíz, Paula Andrea Cano, Laura Gutierrez
VI Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum
WIP Latam 2020

Jorge, a young peasant, lives at the top of a mountain. Although the others in his generation have emigrated to the city, he has stayed behind to take care of the coffee plantation left to him by his father, while looking after his grandfather and dabbling in a love affair with his cousin Rosa. The village festivities are approaching and he anxiously looks forward to meeting Andrea, the former girlfriend he has been unable to forget despite the time and the distance. As the desire to see her again turns into an obsession, a silent plague invades the coffee trees. Once the celebrations are underway, amid the loud music and the hallucinations, Jorge will realise that the ties between them are no more and that staying in his land is an act of love and resistance.

Las vacaciones de Hilda / Hilda's Short Summer
Agustín Banchero (Uruguay)
Country(ies) of production: Uruguay - Brazil
Cast: Carla Moscatelli, Edgardo Castro, Gabriel Villanueva
Films in Progress 36

Hilda is a lonely woman living in the town of Conception. She intentionally shatters any kind of emotional bond with the people around her. Her life is interrupted when her eldest son announces a visit after several years. She hurries to improve her house and her own appearance, somewhat neglected in recent times. But a last-minute cancellation of the visit throws her into a tailspin. Now Hilda must relive a summer from long ago.

Philippe Grégoire (Canada)
Country(ies) of production: Canada
Cast: Robert Naylor, Tanja Björk, Marie-Thérèse Fortin, Alexandrine Agostini, Naïla Rabel, Marc Beaupré, Maxime Genois

Alexandre, an instructor at the Canadian customs college, will finds himself under surveillance by police investigators trying to get to the bottom of the sexually explicit drawings that have been troubling the town.

Emanuel Pârvu (Romania)
Country(ies) of production: Romania - Czech Republic
Cast: Serban Pavlu, Ana Indricau, Tudor Cucu-Dumitrescu, Crina Semciuc

One day, teenager Magda offers her expensive necklace to a sick child in the hospital she volunteers for. Her father is certain she is lying again, and when Magda proves her innocence, he is ashamed and guilty but also incapable of admitting he was wrong. Their relationship is broken and in chaos, and past decisions have irreversible consequences.

Fran Kranz (USA)
Country(ies) of production: USA
Cast: Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton

Years after an unspeakable tragedy tore their lives apart, two sets of parents agree to talk privately in an attempt to move forward.

Nich’ya / Unwanted
Lena Lanskih (Russia)
Country(ies) of production: Russia
Cast: Anastasiia Strukova, Olga Malahova, Vladimir Shabelnikov, Tatiana Tihmeneva, Slava Baranov, Ivan Ivashov, Tatiana Vorotnikova

Fourteen-year-old Vika lives in a small provincial town in Russia’s Ural region. She picks wild berries that grow on the wetlands and helps her mom sell them in the street market. She enjoys her choreography classes at school. And she has a baby that nobody must ever know about.

Shu qi shi guang / Lost in Summer
Sun Liang (China)
Country(ies) of production: China
Cast: Yue Xiaoke, Yang Bo

During summer, after high school, a teenage boy confronting the confusion of his life tries everything he can to find a way out. But he fails, murder included.

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