'Loneliness,' 'Death Row' in lineup

Spanish festival San Sebastian rounded out its Zabaltegi New Directors section on Friday, leaning heavily on pics plying various forms of social realism.

Helmers Victoria Galardi and Martin Carranza’s “Lovely Loneliness,” from Buenos Aires-based Rizoma, is one of the few films that brings humor to the sidebar, one of the most important in the fest. It offers a e90,000 ($134,000) prize split between a pic’s director and Spanish distributor.

Romantic comedy features a kooky perf from Ines Efron, a rising star of Argentine cinema (“XXY”), as a girl who swears celibacy after a disastrous affair.

“Passion,” the debut feature from Japan’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi, turns on a couple’s prenuptial problems.

Aside from those two, most of the section’s 14 features, whose Spanish players have already been announced, home in on real-world problems, as did many pics at Cannes this year.

Seen at June’s Midnight Sun Festival, “Thomas,” from Finland’s Miika Soini, turns on an ageing widower.

Belgian Fien Troch’s “Unspoken” portrays a couple who must confront the reality of their daughter’s disappearance five years earlier.

Dutch first-timer Arno Dierickx’s “Blood Brothers” recreates a notorious 1960s murder.

“Noise,” a directorial two-hander from Portugal’s Tiago Guedes and Frederico Serra, depicts the travails of a struggling modern family.

Asian-American Kevin Feng Ke’s “Letters From Death Row” looks set to be one of the section’s most talked-about titles, offering a rare portrayal of China’s maximum security prison system, with a romantic plot driver to boot.

The escort business is critiqued in “Derriere moi,” the second feature from Montreal cineaste Rafael Ouellet (“Le Cedre penche”). “The Equation of Love and Death” is a drug trafficking crime drama from China’s Cao Baoping, who broke through with his first solo effort, “Trouble Makers.”

Directed by Chapour Haghighat, “The Firm Land,” an Indian drama that moves from a remote village to a big city, received development funding from the Hubert Bals Fund.

Fest runs Sept. 18-27.

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