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San Sebastián: ‘Alanis,’ ‘Beyond Words,’ ‘Memoir of Pain’ Join Main Competition

‘The Captain,’ ‘Pororoca,’ ‘So Help Me God’ also competing for San Sebastian’s Golden Seashell

MADRID — Anahi Berneri’s “Alanis,” Urszula Antoniak’s “Beyond Words” and Emmanuel Finkiel’s “Memoir of Pain” will vie in main competition for San Sebastián’s top Golden Seashell.

Also announced Monday by San Sebastián, and completing an 18-title competition are German Robert Schwentke’s “The Captain,” Romanian Constantin Popescu’s “Pororoca” and dock-feature “So Help Me God,” from the creators of French TV series “Strip-Tease.”

Framing three world premieres – “Beyond Words,” “Alanis” and “The Captain” segue to San Sebastian from Toronto – most of the titles reflect, as others already announced in San Sebastian’s main competition and its main New Directors sidebar, a world which questions the security of basic social bedrocks – the family, identity, even the judiciary –  in fragile lives where one event can shatter characters’ stable existence.

“Alanis,” the fifth feature and third time in San Sebastián competition for director-writer-producer Anahí Berneri, one of Argentina’s foremost woman cineasts, paints an intimate portrait of a prostitute (Sofia Gala Castiglione) whose call girl business is closed down, forcing her onto the streets, as Berneri questions whether her work is really a profession or  case of survival subsistence. Fandango handles sales.

Produced by Poland’s Opus Film, which backed Pawel Pawlikowski’s Academy Award-winning “Ida,” “Beyond Words” explores issues of identity as a young hip lawyer in Berlin sees his Polish past resurface in the figure of his long-estranged father. It is the fourth film from Dutch-Polish filmmaker Antoniak, whose burst to international attention with 2009’s “Nothing Personal.”

Marking the return to German filmmaking of Schwentke (“The Divergent Series: Insurgent”), “The Captain” tracks a German private who steals a Nazi captain’s uniform and persona, killing and plundering his way through an on-its-knees Nazi Germany.

“Pororoca,” from Popescu (“Principles of Life”), details how a young Romanian couple’s happy family life is swept away by the disappearance of their young daughter and how they attempt to battle that event’s – however irrational –  emotional consequences. Wide handles world sales.

A docu-feature, Jean Libon and Yves Hinant’s “So Help Me God” lifts the lid on real-life criminal investigation at a Brussels magistrates court.

Produced by Les Films du Poisson (“The Tree,” “On Tour”), sold by TF1 Studio and starring Benoit Magimel and Melanie Thierry, “Memoir of Pain” is the fifth feature of multi-prized French director Emmanuel Finkiel. It adapts Marguerite Duras’ polemical semi-autobiographical World War II account  – “The War: A Memoir,” inspired by her memories of how her life was shattered by the deportation of her husband, the fellow French Resistance fighter Robert Antelme, to Dachau.

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