‘Enemy,’ ‘Vivir,’ ‘Cannibal’ At San Sebastian

Spanish fest presence underscores range of contempo production

MADRID – Denis Villeneuve’s “An Enemy,” David Trueba’s “Vivir es facil” and Manuel Martin Cuenca’s “Cannibal” will face off in competition at September’s 61st San Sebastian Festival, the biggest movie event in the Spanish-speaking world.

A co-production between Canada (Rhombus Media) and Spain (Roxbury Pics), “Enemy” – Villeneuve’s follow-up to the Oscar-nominated “Incendies,” was shot in Toronto from April 2012 before Villeneuve took on Warner Bros.-distribbed “Prisoners.”

“Enemy” stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a man who discovers his double, (Gyllenhaal again), lives close by. With “Prisoners” world preeming at Toronto, “Enemy’s” San Sebastian berth gives Villeneuve the singular distinction of having two movies in major near back-to-back festivals.

Produced by Cristina Huete for Fernando Trueba P.C., David Trueba’s “Vivir” sits as a companion piece to his Sundance-screened “Madrid 1987,” a humor-tinged portrait of recent times past in Spain, caught through the psychology of the characters. Here, a man who teaches English via Beatles songs, sets off across Spain in 1966 to find John Lennon, then shooting Mark Lester’s “How I Won the War,” and composing “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

A suspense drama from “Agora” and “Biutiful” producer Mod Producciones, “Cannibal” stars Antonio de la Torre as a prestigious tailor in southern Spain’s Granada who dedicates his life to work and eating, especially women, until he meets the twin-sister of his last meal, and falls in love.

Popular on Variety

“Hitchcock meets Bunuel,” per Mod partner Simon de Santiago, “Cannibal” adds some arthouse genre gristle to a Spanish production line-up at San Sebastian which, bearing the imprimatur of fest director Jose Luis Rebordinos, underscores the ample gamut of current crisis-whammied Spanish cinema, despite – or more possibly because of – its increasing dependence on international co-production.

Spanish cinema is rich, varied and of quality,” Rebordinos said Wednesday, announcing the movies in Madrid.

Also vying for San Sebastian’s Golden Seashell: Sevillian filmmaker Fernando Franco’s feature deb “La herida,” produced by Kowalski, and a relationship drama first seen as a project at Paris’ Small is Biutiful featuring a buzzed-up central performance by Marian Alvarez.

As already announced, Alex de la Iglesia’s horror comedy “Witching & Bitching” plays out of competition, co-starring Almodovar muse Carmen Maura, a career-achievement Donostia Award recipient at this year’s San Sebastian.

Backed by three of Spain’s most international production players, Zeta Cinema, Mod Producciones and Atresmedia Cine, plus Kowalski Films, “Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang” is a rare incursion into family comedy, here a live-action big screen makeover of a famed Spanish comic book.

Among Spanish movies making San Sebastian’s New Directors cut, Mexican Aaron Fernandez will present “The Empty Hours,” a composed misfits drama featuring the building friendship between a 17-year-old and a woman twice his age, which played to an upbeat response at San Sebastian’s pix-in-post Films in Progress strand.

Also in New Directors, first-timers Fran Araujo and Ernesto de Nova’s “El Rayo” and Isabel Ayguavives’ “El arbol magnetico” both turn on emigrants’ returns to their home countries.

Victoria Galardi’s friendship dramedy, “I Thought It Was a Party,” with a top-notch lead femme cast of Elena Anaya (“Talk To Her”) and Valeria Bertuccelli (“A Boyfriend For My Wife”), plays Horizontes Latinos, as do two Cannes hits: Lucia Puenzo’s “Wakolda,” a recreation of Auschwitz Angel of Death Josef Mengele’s sojourn in Patagonia; and “The Cage of Gold,” Spaniard Diego Quemada’s non-orthodox Central American immigration thriller, which won best actor for its ensemble cast at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard.

Another talked-up title, Chilean Sebastian Lelio’s dramedy “Gloria,” which topped San Sebastian’s 2012 Films in Progress and was a popular Berlin actress winner for Paulina Garcia, screens in San Sebastian’s best-of-fests Perlas section.

Again highlighting the new breadth of selection under Rebordinos, Zabaltegi, San Sebastian’s Critics’ Week, ranges from the Santa Monica-set love story “Violet,” from “The New Daughter” helmer Luiso Berdejo, to Veronica Chen’s Buenos Aires-staged live action/manga animation thriller “Mujer conejo,” to Liliana Torres’ semi-autobiographical feature debut “Family Tour.”

Section features three Spanish docu pics: Francesc Relea’s “Serrat y Sabina: El simbolo y el cuate,” about Spanish singer-songwriters Joan Manuel Serrat and Joaquin Sabina’s relationship with Latin America; “El rey de Canfranc,” from Carlos Castejon, turning on Albert Le Lay, a French Resistance collaborator, and Javier Corcuera’s Peruvian-musis-themed docu-feature “Sigo siendo.” Contempo Spanish and Basque panoramas, Made in Spain and Zinemira, still have to be announced.

Fest runs Sept. 20-28.

Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this article

More Film

  • Taylor Swift attends the premiere of

    Sundance Crowd Goes Wild as Taylor Swift Becomes Powerful Voice of Trump Resistance

    At the outset of the first screening of the documentary “Miss Americana” Thursday night at the Sundance Film Festival, it was clear at the outset that it was not necessarily Taylor Swift’s core audience filling the Eccles Theater for the premiere. The opening scene has Swift trying to write a song at the piano while [...]

  • wanda Imax China

    China Closes Thousands of Theaters in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

    China closed swathes of cinemas on Friday in response to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, which started in the city of Wuhan and has now killed 26 people. The closures come a day after the distributors and producers of the seven major blockbusters that had expected to launch from Jan. 25 cancelled their films’ releases. [...]

  • Taylor Swift Variety Facetime

    Taylor Swift Opens Up About Overcoming Struggle With Eating Disorder (EXCLUSIVE)

    In the new Taylor Swift documentary, “Miss Americana,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival Thursday night, there’s a montage of derogatory commentary about the singer that has appeared on cable shows over the years. One of the less nasty remarks: “She’s too skinny. It bothers me.” As it turns out, it eventually bothered Swift, [...]

  • The Painter and the Thief

    'The Painter and the Thief': Film Review

    Incredible. That’s the word that comes to mind with Benjamin Ree’s “The Painter and the Thief,” a stranger-than-fiction friendship story in which vérité techniques produce unbelievable results. I don’t mean to imply that this astonishing documentary isn’t truthful. Rather, I’m in awe of how things played out, and fully aware that there was a certain [...]

  • 'The Cost of Silence': Exclusive First

    'The Cost of Silence': Exclusive First Look at Sundance Doc on Deepwater Horizon Spill

    “The Cost of Silence,” a new documentary about the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, doesn’t just chronicle the worst oil drilling disaster in history. It looks at the devastating impact that the use of chemicals called “dispersants” had on Gulf Coast families. It turns out the so-called cleanup was not the success story [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content