The movie projects of Sameh Alaa, María Alché, Maddi Barber, Naomi Pacifique, David Pérez Sañudo and Hikaru Uwagawa have been chosen from among the 348 submissions received for the ninth edition of Ikusmira Berriak, to run in 2023. The programme of residences for the development of audiovisual projects organised by the San Sebastian Festival, Tabakalera, International Centre for Contemporary Culture and the Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola (EQZE) has achieved consolidation on the international scene and, since its creation in 2017, has provided support to the production of a total of 38 audiovisual projects, half of which have been completed and, in many cases, premiered in cinemas and festivals all over the world.
Of the 348 submissions received for the residencies, eleven belong to the EQZE category, eleven to the Nest section, fourteen to the Basque Autonomous Country, 118 to the category of Spanish filmmakers and 194 to the international category. The following are the six titles selected for the ninth edition of Ikusmira Berriak:
In the Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola category, the chosen candidate is the Japanese moviemaker living in Madrid, Hikaru Uwagawa (Hiroshima, 1996), who completed the school’s post-graduate course in Filmmaking and who, having directed several short films, will make the most of the residency to continue working on Ulysses, a full-length film for which he has already filmed a few episodes. The Swiss-Dutch director Naomi Pacifique (San José, Costa Rica, 1994) will develop her full-length feature film after the night, the night, based on a triptych of short films starting with after the room (2021), which screened as part of Nest at the San Sebastian Festival and won the Silver Pardino at the Locarno Festival.
Chosen in the Basque category, David Pérez Sañudo (Bilbao, 1987) will participate in Ikusmira Berriak with La última noche de un Erasmus en Roma / An Erasmus Student’s Last Night in Rome, his second feature film after Ane (2020), which competed in New Directors and landed the Irizar Award at the San Sebastian Festival. For her part, the director from Navarre Maddi Barber (Lakabe, 19889, has been selected in the Spanish category and, after presenting titles such as 592 metroz goiti / Above 592 Metres (2018) and Urpean lurra (2019) in Zabaltegi-Tabakalera will make the move to fiction with Claros de bosque / Forest Clearing, a project that also received the support from Noka Mentoring, the programme promoted by the Basque Government and coordinated by Tabakalera in collaboration with the Festival and Zineuskadi to support full-length projects by emerging directors based in the Basque Country and Navarre.
For the second year running, the international category will have two representatives. On the one hand, the Egyptian Sameh Alaa (Cairo, 1987), winner of the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at the Festival de Cannes with I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face (2020) and who will develop his first feature film with the title of I Can Hear Your Voice… Still. On the other, the Argentinian filmmaker and actor María Alché (Buenos Aires, 1983) will participate with Te amo y hoy todo es hermoso / I Love You and Everything is Beautiful, her second film following her debut with Familia sumergida (2018), premiered at the Locarno Festival and winner of the Horizontes Award at the San Sebastian Festival after being selected at Films in Progress.
Made up of representatives of the San Sebastian Festival, Tabakalera, International Centre for Contemporary Culture and the EQZE, the selection committee has chosen projects of varied subject matter and settings: a Japanese revisitation of Homer’s Odyssey exploring the concept of ‘home’ (Ulysses); a questioning of monogamy from the streets of Amsterdam (after the night, the night); the return to Rome of a 30-year-old who realises that he is no longer the person he once was (La última noche de un Erasmus en Roma); a story connecting a woman, a man and three roosters in the Navarrese Pyrenees (Claros de bosque); the tale of a woman as she tries to find her way in Egypt’s patriarchal society (I Can Hear Your Voice… Still) and an intimate melodrama running parallel to the convulsive events that marked the history of Argentina from the 40s to the 60s (Te amo y hoy todo es hermoso).
The residency will run for eight weeks divided into two periods. The six moviemakers will arrive on 6 March to Tabakalera, where they will have time to work on the development of their projects in the Artists Space until 16 April. During that time, they will receive advice from the committee of experts and professionals expressly chosen for each project according to its needs. In June, each resident will receive a development grant of 10,000 euros to continue working on their project between the two periods of their stay. In September, coinciding with the dates of the Festival, they will return to San Sebastian to complete the two last weeks of the residency. During that stage they can present their project to industry professionals and will have a personalised agenda of meetings with people interested in participating in their projects. In addition, the post-production company Elamedia Euskadi will give the Elamedia Post-production Award to one of the selected projects. The award consists of the sound and colour post-production, the graphic work and the obtaining of a DCP master.
The Ikusmira Berriak programme has received, for the years 2022 and 2023, grants for creation laboratories and the development of audiovisual projects launched by the Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales (ICAA) in the framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (RTRP) to promote the audiovisual Sector. This plan is intended to strengthen laboratories, incubators, residencies, platforms and similar initiatives that share the aim of supporting projects at the writing and development stage, with a view to achieving greater quality in the productions and improved access to the market and the audience with optimum conditions to guarantee their circulation and profitability. Thanks to these grants, Ikusmira Berriak has doubled the financial amount going to the projects at the residency so each filmmaker will receive 10,000 euros to work on their proposal instead of the 5,000 euros delivered to date.
This year has highlighted the growing consolidation of the programme which, in 2022 alone, saw three projects developed at Ikusmira Berriak premiere at international festivals. On one hand, Elena López Riera presented El agua / The Water at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs in Cannes, participated in Zabaltegi-Tabakalera and won the Violette d’Or Award at the CineEspaña Festival in Toulouse. On the other, Manuel Abramovich and Mikel Gurrea became the first Ikusmira Berriak moviemakers to compete in San Sebastian Festival’s Official Selection: the former, with Pornomelancolía, landing the Jury Prize for Best Cinematography in San Sebastian and the Grand Prix for Best Film at the Bordeaux Independent Film Festival, while the latter, with Suro, bagged the Irizar Basque Film Award and the FIPRESCI Prize in San Sebastian, among other accolades.
Since its first edition in 2015, Ikusmira Berriak has supported the development of 38 audiovisual projects, 16 of which have been completed while the remainder are at the development stage. Ten of those now finished have won major awards at international festivals, such as 918 gau / 918 Nights (2021), by Arantza Santesteban, which won the Best Film Award in the Official Selection of the Torino Festival, the City of Lisbon Award for Best Film at DocLisboa and the Audience Award and a special mention at Punto de Vista in Navarre, as well as being programmed this year in the Zinemira section of the San Sebastian Festival. For his part, among other accolades, Kiro Russo won the Jury Special Prize in the Orizzonti section of the Venice Festival with El gran movimiento (2021), also included in Zabaltegi-Tabakalera, while Helena Girón and Samuel Delgado bagged with Eles transportan a morte / Ellos transportan la muerte (2021) the Award for Best Technical Contribution at the Venice Critics’ Week and a special mention in the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera section.
In addition, several projects included in Ikusmira Berriak are now at the post-production stage and will be premiered in the coming months. This is the case of O corno do centeo / The Rye Horn, by Jaione Camborda; Antier noche / Nights Gone by, by Alberto Martín Menacho; Creatura, by Elena Martín Gimeno, and Dormen os peixes de olhos abertos / Do Fish Sleep with Their Eyes Open?, by Nele Wohlatz.
Tonight Naomi’s partner tells her he will return to monogamy with one of his recent relations. Confronted with the harsh reality of non-monogamy, Naomi heads out onto the streets of Amsterdam for a night of diverse intimacies, to remember why she committed to this kind of relationship in the first place. And while she looks, listens and talks her way through the city’s cobbled streets, is the night getting longer, or is it only the lights from people’s windows engaging in deep conversation with the moon?
It’s winter in a small valley in the Navarrese Pyrenees. Ana (39) lives alone and struggles to fit into a rural world to which she doesn’t belong and that she finds hostile; three roosters struggle to survive overnight in a forest after being abandoned; Julen (35) will try to reverse the effects of climate change in his town as he questions the values he has grown up with. Three stories tied in by a chain of random events create a tale about possible ways of life in a traditional rural setting.
In the ghost city of Cairo, just before midnight, Miriam leaves home at such a late hour for the first time in her life. Her night is full of manipulation and other physical and emotional obstacles as she finds her way in a patriarchal society. Overcoming them one by one, she faces her own limits, blurring the line between the real and the unreal.
Marcos goes to Rome to collect the body of his brother, who died while on his Erasmus stay, and where he too had studied years back. There he learns that his brother Alejandro was a different person to the one he had known. Intrigued by this version of his brother, Marcos recreates his last days; he goes out with his friends, sleeps in his bed, smokes his tobacco… Meanwhile, the phone calls keep coming: his mother, his boss… “When are you coming back?” But Marcos is happy squatting his brother’s life.
It’s summer 1952. Josefina (8) lives with her brother Jorge (13) and their mother, a geologist in the Andes Mountain Range. But a tragic accident leaves Josefina and Jorge orphaned and they are farmed out to Berta, one of their aunts, whose intense political and cultural life filters through to the children’s home and private lives. Soon Jorge feels uncomfortable and leaves. Josefina is left behind, living alone with her aunt, her husband and her two cousins. With a few narrative ellipses, personal life starts merging with the political, social and cultural life of the convulsive 50s and 60s.
The film is a parody of Homer’s Odyssey in the style written by James Joyce in his novel Ulysses. Several Ulysses travel in search of their imaginary home (Ithaca), a place that no longer exists. Episode 3 (Hades) follows Kazuko (read Tiresias), a woman living in Okayama, who has lost her husband and is preparing for her first Obon, the yearly Japanese festivity when the spirits of ancestors return to this world to visit their family members. At the same time and in the same city, Ulysses meets Kazuko and, during the Obon, his dead father (read Anticlea).