San Sebastian Completes Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Line-Up

Zhang-ke, Solondz, Rodrigues complete San Sebastian’s competitive sidebar

Memory Exercises, directed by Paz Encinas
Courtesy: San Sebastian Festival

BARCELONA — Jeff Nichols’ “Midnight Special,”  Todd Solondz’s “Wiener Dog,” João Pedro Rodrigues’ “The Ornithologist” and Paz Encina’s “Memory Exercises” are some of the newest titles that will round up San Sebastian’s overhauled Zabaltegi-Tabakalera sidebar.

Winner of a Cannes’ Fipresci Prize with “Paraguayan Hammock,” Paz Encina’s awaited second feature, “Memory Exercises” turns on Agustín Goiburú, who made a valiant attempt to organise opposition to Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner.

Premiered at the 2016 Berlinale, Nichols’ FilmNation-sold fourth feature won glowing reviews – Variety called it “limitlessly imaginative” – for a supernatural thriller mixed with sci-fi and road movie elements.

Portuguese João Pedro Rodrigues’ fifth picture, the playful “The Ornithologist, in which a solitary bird watcher embarks on a journey of self discovery, won best director at early August’s Locarno Festival. Films Boutique sells; Portugal’s Blackmaria produces.

A wandering short story compendium, bound by deadpan musings on mortality and the presence of one winsome Dachshund,” according to Variety, Solondz’s Sundance entry “Weiner Dog” is distributed by Amazon in the U.S.

Billed by the San Sebastian Festival, along with “When I Grow Old,” as an outstanding Latin American debut, another new Zabaltegi addition is Felipe Guerrero’s “Oscuro animal,” a three-part, near-dialogue-free, chronicle of the brutal impact of Colombia’s armed conflict on three women.

Produced by Buenos Aires’ Gema Films, “Oscuro Animal” swept Mexico’s Guadalajara Fest and has just topped Peru’s Lima Festival, consolidating Guerrero’s status as a director to watch.

Sold by FiGa Films,Brazilian Marilia Rocha’s “Where I Grow Old,” which was selected for Toulouse’s Films in Progress last year and premiered at Rotterdam, features the halting friendship of two Portuguese girls in Brazil, under self-pressure to decide where they will make their home.

Once San Sebastian’s major sidebar, housing fest gems and event-s now standalone New Directors competition, Zabaltegi has been refashioned under San Sebastian director José Luis Rebordinos as a travellers’ bag reflecting the digital era driven revolution in film formats as well as some of the more out-there or challenging movies on the independent film scene.

Now named Zabaltegi-Tabakalera from 2016 it has also become competitive section with “no formal rules or restrictions on subject matter,” according to Rebordinos, who added:  “We don’t mind if the films comes in 16 mm, 35 mm or Super 8 or HD with a length of five minutes or eight hours.”

Zabaltegi-Tabakalera New now carries a cash prize of €20,000 ($22,282), of which €6,000 ($6,684) will go to the director and the rest to the Spanish distributor. The new showcase last name –Tabakalera– comes from the building which hosts the sidebar, now also the festival headquarters, once a tobacco factory but now turned into a center for Contemporary Art.

A Golden Lion winner at Venice for “Still Life,”  Jia Zhang-ke’s  short film “The Hedonists” depicts the dramatic odyssey of unemployed Shanxi miners in search of work.

In San Sebastian competition with “Nocturama,” Bertrand Bonello will present short entry “Sarah Winchester,” a ghost story framed historical rumination which premiered at the FID Marseille.

Ghosts also haunt the Rotterdam Fest-premiered “Ghost Ship,” whose associations take in vampires, cinema, love and shipwrecks, marking creative essay from director Basque Koldo Almandoz and active Basque production house Txintxua Films.

Of newly announced totles, section also includes two Basque productions from the Kimuak short film program, an initiative of the Basque Government ‘s Department of Culture and the Filmoteca Vasca, and one of the drivers of Basque cinema renaissance this decade: Mikel Rueda’s “On the Path” and María Elorza and Maider Fernández Iriarte’s “Our Walls.”

Pablo Álvarez delivers a 25-minute piece, “El Extraño, a collage of night-time images of central Santiago de Chile and fragmented portrait of an individual caught in some shots.

Also in Zabaltegi-Tabakalera: Short film “The Disco Shines” by Spaniard Chema García Ibarra whose previous works have been selected for Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, Sundance or Berlin.

Among other newly announce titles, Aaron Brookner’s “Uncle Howard,” depicts the singular figure of his uncle, Howard Brookner who captured in “Burroughs: The Movie” the cultural revolution underway in the New York of the early eighties, prior to his premature death.

“Zoology,” by Ivan I. Tverdovsky who garnered some 30 awards with debut “Corrections Class,” won the Special Jury Prize at this year’s Karlovy Vary.

Of documentaries, Thorsten Schütte’s “Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words” offers an intimate look at the life and work of the Baltimore musician.

Sold by Gaumont, Bertrand Tavernier’svastly knowledgeable and enthusiastic “A Journey Through French Cinema,” the great French director’s attempt to do for France what Scorsese did for Italian cinema, opens the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera showcase.

The San Sebastian Festival runs Sept. 16-24.