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You are in: Home > 2021. 69th Edition  > News > Iciar Bollaín, Fernando León de Aranoa, Paco Plaza and Jonás Trueba to compete in San Sebastian Festival’s Official Selection
Iciar Bollaín, Fernando León de Aranoa, Paco Plaza and Jonás Trueba to compete in San Sebastian Festival’s Official Selection
'Las leyes de la frontera', by Daniel Monzón, the Festival closing film; 'La hija', by Manuel Martín Cuenca; Alejandro Amenábar’s series 'La Fortuna' and the short film 'Rosa Rosae. La Guerra Civil' by Carlos Saura will participate out of competition
Friday, July 30th, 2021

Fourteen Spanish productions have been selected for the Official Selection, New Directors, Horizontes Latinos, Zabaltegi-Tabakalera and Perlak at San Sebastian Festival’s 69th edition. Four of them will compete for the Golden Shell: Maixabel, by Iciar Bollaín; El buen patrón / The Good Boss by Fernando León de Aranoa; La abuela by Paco Plaza and Quién lo impide, by Jonás Trueba. The following will also participate in the Official Selection, out of competition: La hija / The Daughter, by Manuel Martín Cuenca; the series La Fortuna, by Alejandro Amenábar; the short film Rosa Rosae. La Guerra Civil / Rosa Rosae. A Civil War Elegy by Carlos Saura, to be screened as part of the opening gala; and Las leyes de la frontera, by Daniel Monzón, the Festival closing film.

Icíar Bollaín will present Maixabel, starring Blanca Portillo as the widow of the socialist leader murdered by ETA, Juan Mari Jáuregui. Luis Tosar plays one of those involved in the killing in a film recreating the restorative meetings advocated in 2001 as a result of the so-called ‘vía Nanclares’ project, under which Maixabel Lasa agreed to meet her husband’s assassins in prison. This is the fourth time the moviemaker from Madrid will have competed in the Official Selection, where Laia Marull and Luis Tosar, the lead characters of Te doy mis ojos / Take my Eyes (2003), landed both Silver Shells. She later returned to the competition with Mataharis (2007) and Yuli (2018), which won the Jury Prize for Best Screenplay.

Fernando León de Aranoa will compete for the third time in the Official Selection, where Barrio (1998) bagged him the Silver Shell for best director and the Fipresci Prize, while Los lunes al sol / Mondays in the Sun (2002) carried off the Golden Shell for best film. In his latest participation in the competition, the filmmaker from Madrid once again works with Javier Bardem in the lead part of El buen patrón / The Good Boss, a tragicomic tale offering a ferocious take on personal and labour relations. 

Valencian filmmaker Paco Plaza, nominated for several Goya and responsible for great horror hits such as the recent Veronica (2017) and the [REC] franchise, will compete for the Golden Shell for the first time with La abuela, another horror movie based on his own original idea developed by Carlos Vermut in the screenplay. The film narrates the nightmarish turn taken by the life of a young woman who leaves her job as a model in Paris to return to Madrid and take care of her sick grandmother.

Jonás Trueba will once again compete in San Sebastian’s Official Selection following his participation with La Reconquista / The Reconquest in 2016. Quién lo impide, taking its title from a song by Rafael Berrio, follows the reflections of teenagers in their life today and their prospects for the future, filmed before, during and after the lockdown. The film is the culmination of a long film project, with many shoots and edits over five years.

Bollaín, León de Aranoa, Plaza and Trueba join the already-announced list of moviemakers participating in the official competition: Inés Barrionuevo, Laurent Cantet, Terence Davies, Alina Grigore, Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Zhang Ji, Tea Lindeburg, Claudia Llosa and Claire Simon.

Out of competition

La hija / The Daughter represents the return to San Sebastian of Manuel Martín Cuenca, whose career has developed parallel to the San Sebastian Festival: his first feature, La flaqueza del bolchevique / The Weakness of the Bolshevik (2003), screened in Zabaltegi-New Directors, while he competed in the Official Selection with Malas temporadas (2005), Caníbal / Cannibal (Jury Prize for Best Cinematography, 2013) and El autor /The Motive (2017). La hija is a dramatic thriller starring Javier Gutiérrez, Patricia López Arnaiz and Irene Virgüez Filippidis.

Also to have its premiere out of competition is La Fortuna, the action & adventure 6-episode series running for 5 hours directed by Alejandro Amenábar. He opened the Festival out of competition in 2015 with Regression and competed in 2018 with Mientras dure la guerra / While at War.

Within the Official Selection, also out of competition, the opening gala will include the screening of Carlos Saura’s documentary short Rosa Rosae. La Guerra Civil / Rosa Rosae. A Civil War Elegy, a tribute to the children of war set to the song by José Antonio Labordeta and manipulated photographs and drawings by Saura himself. The filmmaker from Aragón received an honorary Golden Shell in recognition of his career in 2007.

The Festival will also close with a Spanish production. Daniel Monzón, who participated in Made in Spain with El corazón del guerrero (2000) and Celda 211 / Cell 211 (2010), winner of eight Goya awards including best film and best director, will close the Official Selection out of competition, with Las leyes de la frontera, the big-screen adaptation of the homonymous novel by Javier Cercas, set in the late 70s in Girona, where three young people from two very different worlds run into one another.

Other Spanish productions at the 69th edition

New Directors, the Festival section dedicated to the first and second films by their filmmakers, will host the presentation of Josefina / Josephine, first work from the duo made up of filmmaker Javier Marco and screenwriter Belén Sánchez-Arévalo. Emma Suárez and Roberto Álamo star in this love story.

Also screening in this section is the co-production with Turkey İki Şafak Arasında / Between Two Dawns, winner of the WIP Europa and WIP Europa Industry Awards at the last edition of the Festival. Directed by the moviemaker Selman Nacar, the film focuses on concepts of conscience, family, and justice.

Another co-production, this time with Argentina and Chile, will participate in the Horizontes Latinos selection: Piedra Noche / Dusk Stone, directed by Iván Fund. The winner of the WIP Latam Industry Award in 2020 is a fantasy drama set in a small seaside town.

Following its showing in the short film competition in the Orizzonti section of Venice Festival, Zabaltegi-Tabakalera will screen Mikel Gurrea’s short film, Heltzear, selected for the Kimuak catalogue in 2021. The filmmaker from San Sebastian, who participated in the Ikusmira Berriak project residency, brings a story about overcoming the odds in a context of political violence.

The Tabakalera cinema will also host, following its screening at the Venice Critics’ Week, the screening of Eles transportan a morte / They Carry Death, the first feature film from Helena Girón and Samuel M. Delgado, developed at Ikusmira Berriak, a tale of adventures with a critical discourse on colonisation.

Competencia Oficial, by Argentinian directors Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn, will open the Perlak section. It is a tragicomedy set in the world of cinema which will compete for the Golden Lion in Venice, starring Oscar Martínez alongside Donostia Award-winners Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas.



© Fernando Marrero
Fernando León de Aranoa (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Cast: Javier Bardem, Manolo Solo, Almudena Amor, Óscar de la Fuente, Sonia Almarcha, Fernando Albizu, Tarik Rmili, Rafa Castejón, Celso Bugallo

The good boss likes to tell his workers that Justice holds Blanco scales in her hand.

His company produces industrial scales, but the ones presiding over the entrance to the company, an old model with two plates, is out of kilter. Standing on the industrial outskirts of a small provincial town, for decades Básculas Blanco has been making industrial scales for major retail outlets, to weigh vehicles and livestock.

Blanco, its owner, is happy. His business is going through a healthy period: they are about to receive the Business Excellence award from the provincial government. The committee visit is imminent, and things must be perfect when the time comes.

But problems with his workers seem to be conspiring against him. The good boss tries to iron out the issues at any price: doing his all to restore the lost balance, he will cross every line imaginable.

Paco Plaza (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Spain - France
Cast: Almudena Amor, Vera Valdez

Susana has to leave her life in Paris working as a model to return to Madrid. Her grandmother Pilar has just had a stroke. Years ago, when Susana’s parents died, her grandmother had brought her up as if she were her own daughter. Susana needs to find someone to take care of Pilar, but what should have been only a few days with her grandmother will end up turning into a terrifying nightmare.

Icíar Bollaín (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Cast: Luis Tosar, Blanca Portillo, Urko Olazabal, María Cerezuela

Maixabel Lasa lost her husband, Juan María Jáuregui, assassinated by ETA in 2000. Eleven years later, she receives an unusual request: One of the murderers has asked to meet her in the Nanclares de la Oca prison in Álava, where he is serving a sentence after having severed ties with the terrorist gang. Despite the doubts and the immense pain, Maixabel Lasa agrees to meet face to face with the people who ended in cold blood with the life of who had been her partner since the age of sixteen. “Everyone deserves a second chance,” she says when asked about the reasons for sitting in front of her husband’s killer.

Jonás Trueba (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Cast: Candela Recio, Pablo Hoyos, Silvio Aguilar, Pablo Gavira, Claudia Navarro, Marta Casado, Rony-Michelle Pinzaru, Javier Sánchez

Quién lo impide is a call to change our perception of adolescents and youths; our idea of those born in the early 21st century who have recently reached adulthood; those who now seem guilty of everything as they themselves see their hopes dashed. Somewhere between documentary, fiction and pure testimonial record, the young adolescents show themselves the way they really are, the way we rarely see them, or the way they let us see them: taking advantage of the film camera to show off the best of themselves and renew our trust in the future; from fragility and emotion, with humour, intelligence, beliefs and ideas. Because the young people who speak to us about love, friendship, politics or education refer not only to their own situation, but to the things that always matter to us, at any age. Quién lo impide is a film about ourselves: about what we were, what we are and what we will continue to be.

OFFICIAL SELECTION - Not in competition
Carlos Saura (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Opening Night Film
Not in competition

Saura creates and recovers more than thirty images, drawings and photographs that he prints, manipulates, plays with and subsequently films, to produce a story which, while recreating the Spanish Civil War, could also reflect the horrors of universal conflict, seen through the eyes of a child and his surroundings.

Daniel Monzón (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Cast: Marcos Ruiz, Begoña Vargas, Chechu Salgado
Closing Night Film
Not in competition

The story begins in summer 1978. Nacho Cañas, a shy student and something of a misfit, is seventeen years old and lives in Girona. His meeting with Zarco and Tere, two young tearaways from the city’s red-light district, catapults him into a love triangle leading to a continual spate of thefts, robberies and heists that will last throughout the summer and forever change his life. Las leyes de la frontera is the tale of the summer when Nacho fell in love for the first time and grew up, constantly crossing the border between two worlds, crossing the line between good and bad, between justice and injustice.  

Alejandro Amenábar (Chile - Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Cast: Álvaro Mel, Ana Polvorosa, Stanley Tucci, Clarke Peters, T'Nia Miller, Karra Elejalde, Manolo Solo
Not in competition

Álex Ventura, a young and inexperienced diplomat, becomes the leader of a mission that will test his convictions: to recover the underwater treasure stolen by Frank Wild, a fortune hunter who travels the world looting common heritage from the depths of the sea. Together with Lucía, a feisty official, and Jonas Pierce, a brilliant American lawyer, Álex will set out on the adventure of his life, discovering the importance of love, friendship and following your beliefs. 6-episode series.

Manuel Martín Cuenca (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Cast: Javier Gutiérrez, Patricia López Arnaiz, Irene Virgüez
Not in competition

Irene is fifteen years old and lives in a centre for juvenile offenders. She has just realised that she’s pregnant and is determined to turn her life around with the help of Javier, one of the centre educators. Javier invites her to come and live out her pregnancy with himself and his wife Adela in their house in a remote and rugged spot in the mountains. The only condition is that, in exchange, she must agree to give them the baby she is carrying in her womb. This feeble pact will be threatened when Irene starts to feel that the life growing inside her is her own.

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.

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.

© Iván Fund, Laura Mara Tablón, Rita Cine, Insomnia Films, Globo Rojo Producciones
Iván Fund (Argentina)
Country(ies) of production: Argentina - Chile - Spain
Cast: Maricel Álvarez, Mara Bestelli, Alfredo Castro, Marcelo Subiotto, Jeremías Kuharo
WIP Latam 2020

Sina makes her way to the coast to help her friend Greta with the sale of her summer house. Greta lost her only son less than a year ago in that sea and needs her help. As they pack everything up and get ready to hand over the key, Bruno, Greta’s husband, claims to have seen something that confirms the local rumours referring to sightings of a strange creature.

Helena Girón (Spain), Samuel M. Delgado (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Spain - Colombia
Cast: Nuria Lestegás, Sara Ferro, Xoán Reices, Valentín Estévez, David Pantaleón
Ikusmira Berriak III

1492. Travelling among the crew captained by Christopher Columbus are two men who should have been dead by now. They have managed to avoid their sad fate by signing up for the uncertain voyage. But on reaching the Canary Islands the men flee, taking one of the ship’s sails with them. Meanwhile, in the Old World, a woman tries to save her dying sister by taking her to a healer. Both journeys try to outwit death. Both journeys are at the mercy of time and history.

Heltzear (Short film)
Mikel Gurrea (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Cast: Haizea Oses, Mikel Arruti, Oier de Santiago
Zinemira Kimuak

San Sebastian, the year 2000. The Basque conflict is ongoing. While writing a letter to her absent brother, Sara, a 15-year-old mountain climber, trains for the hardest ascent of her life.

Gastón Duprat (Argentina), Mariano Cohn (Argentina)
Country(ies) of production: Spain - Argentina
Cast: Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Martínez
Opening Film (In competition)

In search of significance and social prestige, a billionaire businessman decides to make a film to leave his mark. To do it, he hires the best: a stellar team made up of the famous filmmaker Lola Cuevas and two renowned actors, both with enormous talent, but with even bigger egos: the Hollywood actor Félix Rivero and the radical thespian Iván Torres. Both are legends, if not exactly the best of friends. Through a series of increasingly eccentric challenges set by Lola, Felix and Iván must face not only each other, but also their own legacies.

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