Gijon favors U.S., Argentine films

Fest opens with Clark Gregg's 'Choke'

MADRID — U.S. indie pics and Argentine arthouse titles feature prominently in the lineup of the Gijon Film Festival, which unspools Nov. 20-29.

The fest opens with Clark Gregg’s “Choke,” which picked up a Sundance special jury prize, and closes with Alex Holdridge’s blind-date comedy, “In Search of a Midnight Kiss.”

The competition features three U.S. titles: “Ballast,” Lance Hammer’s Mississippi Delta family drama; Kelly Reichardt’s American Northwest roadmovie “Wendy and Lucy”; and Antonio Campos’ prep school dystopia, “Afterschool.”

Gijon’s competish underscores the strength of filmmaking in Argentina, with three key pics from the country running in the kudo contest.

In the lineup are “Liverpool,” Lisandro Alonso’s drama about the return of a sailor to Tierra del Fuego; “Salamandra,” Pablo Aguero’s feature debut, set in the expanses of Patagonia; and “A Week Alone,” Celina Murga’s study of well-off adolescents with time to kill.

Another Argentine pic, Lucrecia Martel’s contempo social allegory, “The Headless Woman,” screens out of competition.

Fest director Jose Luis Cienfuegos has cherrypicked some of the most admired left-of-field titles of the year.

These include some of Cannes’ top titles, such as “Waltz With Bashir,” Kazakh steppe courtship story “Tulpan,” which won Un Certain Regard, Belgian actor-helmer Bouli Lanners’ oddball road movie “Eldorado,” and Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Cannes director winner, family drama “Three Monkeys.”

Gijon’s competition ranges far and wide, from another family drama, “9mm,” by Istanbul-born Taylan Barman, to Patrice Toye’s “Nowhere Man,” about a fortysomething husband who dreams of a different life, and Chilean Jose Luis Torres Leiva’s solitude tale “The Sky, The Earth and the Rain.”

Set on the Chilean coast near Valdivia, “Sky” is the third film in competition to use the stark, inhospitable landscapes of South America to suggest larger spiritual malaise.

Claire Denis’ Venice player “35 Shots of Rhum” and Sylvie Verheyde’s “Stella,” about a 70s working class ‘hood, round up Gijon’s Official Section.

Hannes Stohr’s “Berlin Calling,” tracking a DJ in the German capital, and New Zealander Gregory King’s redemption tale, “A Song of Good,” play out of competition.

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