Andrew Dosunmu’s “Mother of George,” Neto Villalobos’ “All About the Feathers” and Jim Taihuttu’s “Wolf” are among 16 titles in this year’s San Sebastian’s Kutxa-New Directors section, one of the Spanish fest’s highest-profile sidebars.
Handed out to first or second films, the Kutxa-New Directors plaudit comes with a Euros 50,000 ($67,000) cash-prize.
A Sundance hit, acquired for North America by Oscilloscope Laboratories, “George,” about a childless Nigerian couple in Brooklyn, helped win Bradford Young Sundance’s cinematography prize.
A movie about a bored security guard’s budding bromance with his rooster, which he trains as a gamecock, Villalobos’ debut, a feel-good dramedy, was a highlight at BAL Goes to Cannes, and picked up for world sales by France’s UDI. It won BAL’s Sinsistema prize and Miami’s Encuentros.
Helmed by Jim Taihuttu, who caught heat with his co-directed “Rabat,” a sleeper in Holland, “Wolf’s” trailer has been sparking buzz for what looks like a hard-hitting noirer of a kickboxer courted by organized crime.
Covering a huge range of subjects and film styles, this year’s New Directors competition features films with stars or producers of large pedigree, or both.
From TV director Michalis Konstantatos, “Luton,” for example, marks the latest movie from Yorgos Tsourgiannis, producer of the Oscar-nominated Cannes hit “Dogtooth.”
World preeming at San Sebastian, coming of age tale “Puppy Love,” the feature debut of Delphine Lehericey, co-stars Vincent Perez (“Cyrano de Bergerac”) and is lead-produced by Belgium’s Entre Chien et Loup (“The Congress,” “Vijay and Me”).
July August Productions, whose credits include Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette’s “Inch’Allah,” produced Adam Sanderson’s Israeli-village set “Funeral at Noon.”
Some New Directors’ players could happen most places.
In Ukrainian Volodymyr Tykhyy’s “The Green Jacket,” a young girl exacts revenge for her small brother’s kidnapping; Ignas Jonynas’ “The Gambler,” which won $125,00 in Eurimages coin, features a man desperate to pay off his debts. In Romanian Tudor Cristian Jurgiu’s “Japanese Dog,” an old man meets his son after 20 years of estrangement.
Others, however, are slice-of-lifers, or closely grounded in cultural or political realities.
Re-teaming France’s Les Films du Poisson with its “Meduzot” production partner, Tel Aviv-based Lama Films, Yossi Aviram’s directorial debut “The Dune” turns on an Israeli who loses his memory in Paris.
Yu Liu’s “The Blinding Sunlight” portrays the daily life of a low-income family living in Beijing. World preeming at April’s Istanbul Fest, Mahmut Fazil Coskun’s “Yozgat Blues” follows an Istanbul musician who accepts a gig in the Anatolian sticks.
In the most prominent example of a localized though not local movie, thesp-turned-helmer Benedikt Erlingsson’s “Of Horses and Men,” which debuted at Sundance and is set in Icelandic farmlands, where a farmer’s status can still measured by his horses, is, said “Erlingsson’s “about the horse in the man and the man in the horse.”
New Directors also features three already-announced Spanish productions/co-productions: Mexican Aaron Fernandez’s “The Empty Hours,” Isabel Ayguavives’ “The Magnetic Tree” and Fran Araujo and Ernesto de Nova Roldan’s “El Rayo (Hassan’s Way).”
Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this article