MADRID — Underscoring its strong political and social issue focus, the San Sebastian fest has lined up Nick Broomfield’s “Battle for Haditha,” Wayne Wang’s “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers” and Paulo Barzman’s “Emotional Arithmetic” for the main competition. Based on true events, Iraq War drama “Battle” charts the retaliation taken by U.S. Marines after their convoy is hit by insurgents.
Toronto closing night player, “Arithmetic” explores the longtime legacy of the Holocaust. Susan Sarandon, Christopher Plummer and Gabriel Byrne star.
Wayne Wang’s father-daughter drama, “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers,” portrays the lives of Asians in America.
The competish lineup features latest turns by well-known auteurs. Manuel Poirier’s “La Maison” is a country house-set drama toplining Poirier regular Sergi Lopez, while John Sayle’s Danny Glover starrer “Honeydripper” is a ‘50s Alabama juke joint-set tale tracing the origins of the electric guitar.
But in another time-honored San Sebastian tradition, the competition mixes established helmers with lesser-known, up-and-coming directors. Six main competition films are first or second pics, which compete for San Sebastian’s E90,000 ($120,000) New Directors prize.
In Esteban Shroeder’s “Matar a todos,” a Uruguay-Chile-Argentina co-production, an Uruguayan woman investigates her family and country’s military past after a possibly covered up kidnapping.
Sporting a strong Danish cast, and co-produced by Zentropa Entertainment, Dane Simon Staho’s “Daisy Diamond” turns on an actress’ troubled motherhood. An aging actress drama, “Encarnacion,” is the sophomore pic from Argentine Anahi Berneri, who won a Berlin Teddy Award in 2005 for “A Year Without Love.”
Some pics offer auteurist genre takes. Pang Ho-cheung’s offbeat “The Exodus,” which leads noms at Hong Kong’s annual Golden Bauhinia Film Awards, turns on a femme conspiracy to eliminate men. Likewise, Kim Mi-jeong’s debut “Goong-nyuh” is a period noir, set during Korea’s Joseon Dynasty.
The lineup offers select international (“Maison”) and world preems, such as the already announced Spanish “Mataharis” and “Siete mesas de billar frances,” and BBC-Greenlight Media docupic “Earth.”
Both David Cronenberg’s fest opener “Eastern Promises” and Michael Radford’s closing night player “Flawless,” playing out of competition, have their European preems at San Sebastian.
Inevitably, however, around half of the competing films, especially titles from name directors, will spool a few days earlier at Toronto.
Fest runs Sept. 20-29.
55TH SAN SEBASTIAN FESTIVAL
OPENING NIGHT FILM (IN COMPETITION)
“Eastern Promises,” U.S., David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel
“Battle for Haditha,” U.K., Nick Broomfield
Cast: Falah Abraheem Flayeh, Yasmine Hanani, Duraid A. Ghaieb, Elliot Ruiz
“Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame,” Iran-France, Hana Makhmalbaf
Cast: Nikbakht Noruz, Abdolali Hoseinali, Abbas Alijome
“The Exodus,” Hong Kong, Pang Ho- cheung
Cast: Simon Yam, Annie Liu, Nick Cheung, Irene Wan
“Daisy Diamond,” Denmark, Simon Staho
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Sofie Grabol, Trine Dyrholm, Charlotte Munck, Stine Stengade
“Earth,” U.K.-Germany, Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield (documentary)
“Emotional Arithmetic,” Canada, Paolo Barzman
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Christopher Plummer, Gabriel Byrne, Roy Dupuis, Max von Sydow
“Encarnacion” (Embodiment), Argentina, Anahi Berneri
Cast: Silvia Perez, Martina Juncadella, Luciano Caceres, Osmar Nunez, Fabian Arenillas, Carlos Portaluppi
“Reclaim Your Brain,” Germany- Austria, Hans Weingartner
Cast: Moritz Bleibtreu, Elsa Schulz Gambard, Milan Peschel, Gregor Bloeb, Simone Hanselmann
“Goong-Nyuh,” Korea, Kim Mi-jeong
Cast: Park Jin-hee, Yun Se-ah, Seo Yeong-hee
“The Inner Life Of Martin Frost,” France-Spain-Portugal, Paul Auster
Cast: David Thewlis, Irene Jacob, Michael Imperioli, Sophie Auster
“Honeydripper,” U.S., John Sayles
Cast: Danny Glover, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Yaya da Costa
“La Maison,” France, Manuel Poirier
Cast: Sergi Lopez, Bruno Salomone, Berenice Bejo, Barbara Schulz
“Mataharis,” Spain, Iciar Bollain
Cast: Najwa Nimri, Tristan Ulloa, Maria Vazquez, Diego Martin, Nuria Gonzalez, Antonio de la Torre
“Matar a todos,” Uruguay-Chile-Argentina, Esteban Schroeder
Cast: Roxana Blanco, Dario Grandinetti, Walter Reyno, Maria Izquierdo, Cesar Troncoso, Patricio Contreras, Jorge Bolani, Claudio Arredondo
“Padre Nuestro,” U.S., Christopher Zalla
Cast: Jesus Ochoa, Armando Hernandez, Paola Mendoza, Jorge Adrian Espindola
“Siete mesas de billar frances,” Spain, Gracia Querejeta
Cast: Maribel Verdu, Blanca Portillo, Jesus Castejon, Victor Valdivia, Lorena Vindell, Raul Arevalo
“A Thousands Years of Good Prayers,” U.S., Wayne Wang
Cast: Faye Yu, Henry O, Pavel Lychnikoff
CLOSING NIGHT FILM (OUT OF COMPETITION)
“Flawless,” U.K., Michael Radford
Cast: Michael Caine, Demi Moore, Joss Ackland, Lambert Wilson