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Giroux, Jimenez, Berneri Make San Sebastian Competition

Upping local big star ante, Spanish fest adds Gabe Ibanez’s 'Automata' with Antonio Banderas

Tying down the latest movies from three rising names in filmmaking from the Americas, Spain’s San Sebastian Festival has added to its main competition Canadian Maxime Giroux’s “Felix and Meira,” Chilean Cristian Jimenez’s “Voiceover” and Argentine Anahi Berneri’s “Open Air.”

The return to feature films of Quebec-based Giroux (“Jo for Jonathan”), “Felix” turns on the amour fou between a penniless eccentric Francophone and a married Hasidic Jewish mother.

Seen in preliminary rough cut at Miami’s Encuentros in March, “Voiceover” is an ambitious step up for Jimenez. Set in the small town of Valdivia, southern Chile – a place where everybody knows what everyone else is doing, although they won’t always recognize that – “Voiceover” bristles with characters and side-stories while portraying a family and its myriad multifarious members.

Augusto Matte’s Jirafa Films produces out of Chile along with Julie Gayet and Nadia Turincev’s Rouge Intl. in Paris, and Nicolas Corneau’s 1976 Productions in Canada.

Packing a prestige producer punch, Hernan Musaluppi’s Rizoma, Daniel Burman and Diego Dubcovsky’s Buenos Aires-based BD Cine and Disney-backed Patagonik, “Open Air,” helmed by Berneri (“Encarnacion”), portrays a couple’s gradual, almost unknowing, separation. Pic was presented as a project at San Sebastian’s first Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum in 2012.

“Sci-fi, but with film noir and Western” influences, an epic futuristic vision of a human civilization finally overtaken by artificial intelligence, as the earth’s ecosystem verges on collapse, Ibanez said announcing “Automata” at Cannes in 2011. Pic tracks Jacq Vaucan, an insurance agent for robotics corp ROC, who investigates a – seemingly- routine case of robot manipulation.

Produced by Banderas and Avi Lerner’s Millenium Films and pre-sold by Nu Image, “Automata” follows-up Ibanez’s debut, “Hierro,” which played 2009’s Cannes Critics’ Week.

Of two more competition titles announced Wednesday, Susanne Bier’s drama-thriller “A Second Chance” turns on two cops, close buddies, who react in different ways to social injustice. It stars “Game of Thrones’” Nicolaj Coster Waldau and Ulrich Thomsen,

Also from a far more established director, France’s Cedric Kahn (“L’Ennui”), the Le Pacte-sold “Wild Life” stars Matthieu Kassovitz as a father who, having lost custody of his two children, spends 11 years on the run with them living off the radar across France.

The San Sebastian Festival runs Sept. 19-27.

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