MADRID — Baltasar Kormakur’s “The Oath,” Lee Sang-il’s “Rage” and Feng Xiaogang’s “I Am Not Madame Bovary” will compete for the 64th San Sebastian Festival’s Golden Seashell, the Festival announced Thursday.
The Spanish festival also confirmed that two more first features, “Playground,” from Poland’s Bartosz M. Kowalski, and Emiliano Torres’ “The Winter,” have also made San Sebastian’s competition cut, completing this year’s contenders (see below).
The new additions also confirm trends which play out to varying degrees over the festival at large: The recourse to genre by more established directors, at times to channel social comment;the emergence of strong heroines battling a system; a remarkable number of first time or new directors whose films expose a generational rift and the travails of disaffected youth, reacting some times with explosive violence to their dead-end futures.
Some movies do bridge that generational gap. Kormakur describes “The Oath,” his first movie post 2015 Venice opener “Everest” and in which he also stars, as in a way “the realistic version of ‘Taken,’ depicting a father – not a super-daddy – risking everything to save his daughter,” who is dating a dangerous criminal. XYZ Films handles international sales.
“Rage” is an ensemble serial killer thriller linking seemingly disparate events in three Japanese cities, and boasting a stellar cast, led by Ken Watanabe. Japan’s Lee, best known for his 2013 remake of Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven,” directs.
Helmed by one of mainland China’s best known directors, Feng Xiaogang (“thE banquet,” “Assembly,”, “Aftershock”) describes how a woman cafe proprietor, played by Chinese star Fan Bingbing, takes on the Chinese legal system. The Toronto Festival calls it “a caustically comic contemporary fable.”
Shaping up as one of the talking points of San Sebastian, Polish freshman Kowalski’s disturbing portrait of irrational teenage pathology § is sold by Latido Films. A social horror film set around an end-of-year school speech day, at least one scene of “Playground” will likely prove unwatchable for part of San Sebastian’s audiences.
In debutant Emiliano Torres’ “The Winter,” a 2016 Toulouse Films in Progress winner, an ancient park warden is relieved of his duties on a Patagonian estates. He sets out to persuade his young wannabe substitute that it is better to leave in what develops into a snowbound Argentine Western. France’s Cite Films produces and sells.
San Sebastian has also rounded up its second centrepiece section, New Directors, dedicated to first or second features, adding two new titles: Dutch Martijn Maria Smits’ hometown return drama “Waldstille” and “Pretenders,” a psychological drama marking the first feature of Estonia’s Vallo Toomla.
The 64th San Sebastian Festival runs Sept. 16-24.
64th SAN SEBASTIAN FESTIVAL COMPETITION LINE-UP
“150 Milligrams,” (Emmanuelle Bercot, France)
“American Pastoral,” (Ewan McGregor, U.S.)
“As You Are,” (Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, U.S.)
“The Giant,” (Johannes Nyholm, Sweden, Denmark)
“I Am Not Madame Bovary,” (Xiaogang Feng, China)
“Jesus,” (Fernando Guzzoni, France, Chile, Germany, Greece),
“Lady Macbeth,” (William Olmroyd, U.K.)
“May God Save Us,” (Rodrigo Sorogoyen, Spain)
“Nocturama,” (Bertrand Bonello, France, Germany, Belgium)
“The Oath,” (Baltasar Kormakur, Iceland)
“Orphan,” (Arnaud des Pallieres, France)
“Playground,” (Bartosz M. Kowalski. Poland)
“Rage,” (Sang-Il Lee, Japan)
“The Reconquest,” (Jonas Trueba, Spain)
“Smoke & Mirrors,” (Alberto Rodriguez, Spain)
“The Winter,” (Emiliano Torres, Argentina, France)
“Yourself and Yours,” (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)