Campanella’s ‘Foosball’ to Open San Sebastian

61st fest edition begins to fall into place

LOCARNO — A blockbuster in its native Argentina, Juan Jose Campanella’s “Foosball,” one of the biggest films ever to come out of Latin America, will open September’s 61st San Sebastian Festival.

Budgeted at $21 million, the 3D animation feature — about a young man whose childhood table football figures come alive to help him save his village and regain the love of his childhood sweetheart — made the biggest bow ever for an Argentine film, scoring Pesos 17.7 million ($3.3 million) and 418,280 admissions at Argentina’s box office over July 18-21.

Campanella’s follow-up to his 2010 Foreign Language Oscar winning “The Secret in Their Eyes,” which won rave reviews in competition at San Sebastian but remarkably failed to score any prize, “Foosball’s” first four-day box office was the fifth-best of any film of any nationality ever, per Universal, which released “Foosball” in Argentina. UPI handles Spanish distribution.

Celebrating its European and possibly international premiere at San Sebastian, “Foosball” opening slot looks like a coup for the Spanish festival which is said to have pursued Campanella’s movie energetically.

Though playing out of competition, “Foosball” adds a further and important element to a 61st San Sebastian whose major contours are rapidly falling into place after the announcement of more competition titles, including Jonathan Teplitzky’s “The Railway Man,” Roger Michell’s “Le Week-End” and Bertrand Tavernier’s “Quai d’Orsay.”

Sold by Pathe Intl., “Quai” is Tavernier’s 25th film and his first comic-book adaptation — of Christophe Blain and Abel Lanzac’s political satire about France’s ministry of foreign affairs under Domnique de Villepin.

Adapting Eric Lomax’s memoir, and a passion project of U.K. producer Andy Paterson at London’s Archer Street Prods, “The Railway Man” stars Colin Firth as a former World War II POW who seeks out the man who tortured him on Burma’s ghastly “death railway.”

A Paris-set marriage-on-the-rocks drama from “Hyde Park on Hudson” helmer Michell, “Le Week-End” stars Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan and Jeff Goldblum.

San Sebastian’s main competition also features Francois Dupeyron’s drama, “My Soul Healed By You,” which marks his return to San Sebastian 14 years after winning its Golden Shell with “C’est quoi la vie,” and two anticipated films from Latin America: Venezuela’s mother-son drama “Bad Hair,” from Mariana Rondon, and the coming-of-age tale “Club Sandwich,” which reteams Berlin-prized Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke (“Duck Season,” “Lake Tahoe”) and his longtime producer Christian Valdelievre and regular ales agent Funny Balloons.

The San Sebastian Festival runs Sept. 20-28.

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