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Sebastian firms up

New filmmakers to vie in fest's Open Zone

ROME — The 47th San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival, which will run Sept. 16-25 in the Basque resort town, has announced the lineup for its Open Zone section, including first and second features competing for the event’s New Directors Award, worth $160,000.

Titles in the running for the coveted prize include “Bobby G. Can’t Swim,” U.S. newcomer John-Luke Montias’ portrait of the mean streets of Hell’s Kitchen; Belgian Harry Cleven’s “Pourquoi se Marier le Jour de la Fin du Monde,” starring Hal Hartley regular Elina Lowensohn; and “Tuvalu,” a silent movie paying tribute to Melies and Jean Vigo that marks the feature bow of award-winning German short film director Veit Helmer.

Dutch debut

Also competing will be Dutch TV veteran Casper Verbrugge’s first theatrical feature, “Sombreman’s Action,” a tough picture of millennium blues in Holland; Norwegian Karin Julsrud’s thriller “Bloody Angels,” set in an isolated Eskimo community; and from France, Laurent Cantet’s “Resources humaines,” a drama about father-son conflict played against the backdrop of a workers’ protest.

Representing Spain in the New Directors competition will be Catalan debuting director Agusti Vila’s “A Park Bench,” a drama about a group of thirtysomething friends in Barcelona that pays homage to the style of Eric Rohmer.

Screening out of competition in the Open Zone section will be several of this year’s major fest hits and prize winners. Among these will be Jim Jarmusch’s “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai,” Jeremy Podeswa’s “The Five Senses,” Murali Nair’s Cannes Camera d’Or winner “Throne of Death,” Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides” and “Agnes Browne,” whose director and star Anjelica Huston will receive one of San Sebastian’s 1999 Donostia career awards.

Cannes carry-over

Also unspooling will be Jessica Hausner’s “Inter-View,” which won this year’s Cannes Cinefondation Grand Prix; “Mifune,” Danish director Soren Kragh-Jacobsen’s entry in the Dogma series; and “Le Petit Voleur,” the sophomore work from “Dreamlife of Angels” helmer Erick Zonca.

Antonio Banderas’ directing debut, “Crazy in Alabama,” starring Melanie Griffith and Lucas Black, will play in San Sebastian after its world premiere in competition at the Venice Intl. Film Festival. Banderas was one of the Spanish event’s most popular guests in 1998, accompanying “The Mask of Zorro.”

Gallic veteran Bertrand Tavernier, who heads this year’s international competition jury and is the subject of one of the fest’s major retrospectives, will screen his latest feature, “It All Starts Today,” in the Open Zone.

Homegrown pics

While the official competition selection will be unveiled in the coming weeks, two eagerly awaited Spanish productions have been announced as part of the lineup. These are Bigas Luna’s big-budget period piece “Volaverunt (The Naked Maja)” and Gracia Querejeta’s story of family secrets, “By My Side Again.”

Set in the 18th century court of King Carlos IV, “Volaverunt” stars Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Jorge Perugorria, Jordi Molla and Penelope Cruz. Tale concerns the mystery surrounding the death of the duchess of Alba and her love-hate relationship with artist Francisco de Goya.

Querejeta’s film centers on three sisters reunited by their mother’s death.

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