Goya, Luna, Querejeta films first named to compete

MADRID — Continuing its tradition of cherrypicking top local pics ripe for fall bows in Spain, the San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival has announced its first competition titles.

One is Goya period pic “Volaverunt” (The Naked Maja), a historical whodunit from Bigas Luna (“Jamon, Jamon,” “The Chambermaid of the Titanic”); the other is “Cuando vuelvas a mi lado” (When You’re At My Side Again), a contempo femme drama by Gracia Querejeta (“Robert Ryland’s Last Journey”).

Both will world preem at the 47th San Sebastian Film Festival, which runs Sept. 16-25.

A co-production between Spanish indie Mate Production and UGC YM, the production arm of French mini-major UGC, “Volaverunt” is tipped by local exhibs to become the top-grossing Spanish pic on home turf in the second half of 1999. It stars Aitana Sanchez-Gijon (“A Walk in the Clouds”) as Goya patron, mistress and the film’s murder victim; Jorge Perugorria (“Strawberry and Chocolate”) as Goya; and Penelope Cruz (“Hi-Lo Country”) as Goya’s model.

Produced by helmer Gracia Querejeta’s father, Elias Querejeta, “When You’re At My Side Again” is one of the most awaited fall titles with art/crossover potential in Spain, exhibs said. It explores the contrasting sentiments of three sisters who meet to scatter their mother’s ashes.

This year’s San Sebastian also includes out-of-competition Jose Luis Cuerda’s latest, “La lengua de las mariposas” (Butterfly’s Tongue), a rites-of-passage tale set at the dawn of the Spanish Civil War. It stars Spanish actor-director Fernando Fernan-Gomez, who will receive a Festival Donostia Award for career achievement this year, along with Anjelica Huston and Vanessa Redgrave.

Catalan Agusti Vila’s feature debut, “Un banco en el parque” (Park Bench), a Rohmer-ish relationship drama, will screen in the festival’s Zabaltegi side-bar section.

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