The San Sebastian Film Festival, the most prestigious film event in the Spanish-speaking world, has unveiled the titles that will vie for a Golden Shell in competition.
Among the first announced: Francois Ozon’s “The New Girlfriend,” Bille August’s “Silent Heart,” Mia Hansen-Love’s “Eden,” “Phoenix,” by Christian Petzold, Shim Sung-bo’s “Haemoo,” Michael R. Roskam’s “The Drop” and “Casanova Variations,” by Michael Sturminger. Among other titles, unveiled mid-August, for main competition are Gabe Ibanez’s Antonio Banderas starrer “Automata,” Canadian Maxime Giroux’s “Felix and Meira,” Chilean Cristian Jimenez’s “Voiceover” and Argentine Anahi Berneri’s “Open Air.”
A Golden Shell winner in 2012 with “In the House” and A 2009 Special Jury Awardee with “Hideaway,” Ozon, one of France’s bestselling foreign-language auteurs, returns to San Sebastian with suspense film “The New Girlfriend,” based on a short story by British author Ruth Rendell, about a woman who makes a surprising discovery after visiting her late friend’s husband.
Foreign-language Oscar and Cannes’ Palme d’Or winner Bille August will compete with intimate drama “Silent Heart,” about a family who gathers for one last weekend with the family’s ailing matriarch, who plans to take her own life when the weekend is over. Pic toplines Paprika Steen (“The Celebration”), Pilou Asbaek (“A Highjacking”) and Danica Curcic, chosen as a 2014 European Film Promotion Shooting Star.
In contempo drama “Eden,” France’s rising star director Mia Hansen-Love, winner of Cannes 2009’s Un Certain Regard with “Father of My Children,” recreates the French electronic music landscape in the ‘90s, focusing on the rise and fall of a DJ. “Eden” is being sold by Paris-based Kinology.
Germany’s Christian Petzold, winner of a Berlin Silver Bear for director with drama “Barbara,” will present in San Sebastian “Phoenix,” his latest collaboration with star Nina Hoss. Set in post-WWII Berlin, drama turns on a singer searching for her husband, a pianist, after reconstructing her face, who was completely disfigured in a concentration camp.
“Haemoo,” South Korean Shim Sung-bo’s directorial debut, is a real-events-inspired, melodramatic thriller about a young crewman who tries to save a female immigrant being smuggled across the border when their fishing boat has an accident. Film is co-penned and produced by Bong Joon-ho, helmer of chiller “Memories of Murder,” whose script Shim Sung-bo co-wrote.
Also in San Sebastian’s main competition: Crime thriller “The Drop,” Belgian Michael R. Roskam’s Hollywood debut, toplining Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini in his last role for feature film. Roskman’s debut feature, 2011’s “Bullhead,” won best film at the Austin Fantastic Fest and was nominated for a best foreign-language film.
Starring John Malkovich both as himself and playing Giacomo Casanova, Michael Sturminger’s “Casanova Variations” boards the myth of the great seductor based on his book “Histoire de ma vie.” The story is told both through fiction and on-stage performances, using arias from Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte.
The return to feature films of Quebec-based Giroux (“Jo for Jonathan”), “Felix & Meira” 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, 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.