×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

San Sebastian Film Festival Boosts Emerging Talent

Spain’s San Sebastián Film Festival, among the high-profile movie events in the Spanish-speaking world, is framing a revolution, in both its role as a film festival and the vision of key new films of the young from Colombia, to the U.S. to southernmost Chile rebelling against a powerless, inept or tyrannical establishment and forging their own destinies.

Both moves, plus San Sebastian’s multiple sections focusing entirely or largely on rising talent, look increasingly important as arthouse cinema, aside from festival attendance, appears to have lost much of its young-adult audience.

“In my opinion, film festivals are undergoing deep transformation,” says José Luis Rebordinos, San Sebastian director since 2011.

The biggest events — Cannes, Berlin, Venice — can still play the traditional role of hosting world premieres. Others, however, such as San Sebastián, while showcasing new films, will have to “work other fields” becoming “a year-round event,” he adds.

Already, San Sebastián co-organizes a six-week Ikusmira Berriak residency to develop experimental or innovative projects. It will now back the new Elías Querejeta Film School, which offers training in film festival programming and curation. “It doesn’t make sense for us to have a film school in San Sebastian unless it has an organic relation with what happens in San Sebastian,” says Rebordinos.

In a novelty, students, having signed confidentiality agreements, will be made party to fest meetings and the decision-making process, including why films are accepted, he adds.

Fostering a new generation of film directors looks like an increasingly urgent affair as young-adult auds define themselves in cultural terms by the high-end TV drama they follow, not their advocacy, as in the ’60s and ’70s, of cutting-edge international movie auteurs.

In any outreach to new generations of spectators, San Sebastián can play a vital role. In 2017 it is celebrating its 65th edition. But it is in many ways, with Locarno, one of the world’s youngest major-league film events. In 2016, nearly half (47%) of San Sebastian’s 17 competition entries were first features or made by directors under 40, vs. 9.5% of Cannes’ and 15% of Venice. This year, though bookended by films from highly established figures such as Wim Wenders (“Submergence”) and Bjorn Runge (“The Wife”), eight of the 17 titles in official selection are still first features or made by directors who are 40-or-under.

The oldest director in Horizontes Latinos, the festival’s curated Latin American showcase, is Marcela Said at 45. Its 13-title New Directors section has only one filmmaker over 40, Marialy Rivas, a superannuated 41.

San Sebastian underscores building trends in arthouse cinema that amp up its young adult appeal, such as the incorporation of genre elements. Daniel Palacios’ New Directors’ entry “Underground” is a family drama, but also, in its later stretches, an original corpse heist thriller. “Princesita” films the pubescent heroine’s sexual initiation and rape in “Rosemary’s Baby”-style fantasy horror; hugging close to its heroine in every shot; “Killing Jesus” plays like a vengeance thriller as a woman hits Medellín’s streets to befriend her father’s assassin and then shoot him.

Though San Sebastián 2017 titles range wider than in many past editions, a brace of films side with teen protagonists as they take matters into their own hands, battling authority (“Sollers Point”), finally facing the root cause of their fractiousness (“Life and Nothing More”), confronting searing patriarchal abuse (“Princesita”), a passive police system (“Killing Jesus”), or the subjugation of love to the need to sire children, as in “The Sower,” a delicate love story set in 1851 in a bucolic but oppressed hamlet high in the French hills.

Rebellion does not guarantee success. But, as San Sebastián titles suggest, the gulf between the establishment and the young has never seemed wider. And there’s no doubt which side filmmakers are on.

More Film

  • Janelle Monae

    Film News Roundup: Janelle Monae to Star in Film From Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz

    In today’s film news roundup, Janelle Monae will star in a Lionsgate movie, Bill Nighy joins “Emma,” and documentaries on surfer Bethany Hamilton and Asbury Park are dated. CASTINGS Janelle Monae will star in an untitled Lionsgate movie directed by the duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz. The film will be produced by QC Entertainment’s Ray [...]

  • Paul Feig Heads to Universal From

    Paul Feig's Feigco Entertainment Jumps From Fox to First-Look Deal at Universal

    Universal’s comedy constellation just added another star, welcoming Paul Feig from 20th Century Fox Film on Thursday. Universal has set a first-look production agreement with Feig’s Feigco Entertainment, bringing in the prolific producer, writer, and director known for hits like “Bridesmaids” and the recent “A Simple Favor.” News of Feig’s relocation shook out of a [...]

  • The Fault in Our Stars

    Disney Retiring Fox 2000 Label

    Disney will stop making films under the Fox 2000 label, a move that could mean that its head Elizabeth Gabler will not be making the move to the Magic Kingdom, Variety has learned. The decision is surprising because Disney had previously stated that Gabler would stay on board at the studio even after it was [...]

  • Macon Blair27th Annual Gotham Independent Film

    Macon Blair to Direct and Write 'Toxic Avenger' Reboot for Legendary (EXCLUSIVE)

    Macon Blair has been tapped to write and direct Legendary’s reboot of the cult classic “The Toxic Avenger,” sources tell Variety. Legendary acquired the feature film rights in December and have quickly made the project a high priority at the studio. Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz of Troma Entertainment will serve as producers with Alex [...]

  • Danny Boyle Bond 25

    Danny Boyle Calls His Exit From 'Bond 25' a 'Great Shame'

    Director Danny Boyle has finally spoken out after leaving the upcoming 25th James Bond movie over creative differences. After splitting from the new 007 flick last August, Boyle told Empire in a story published on Thursday that the script he penned with his “Trainspotting” co-writer John Hodge “wasn’t finished, but it could have been really [...]

  • Film Review: 'Everybody's Everything'

    Film Review: 'Everybody's Everything'

    An elegiac documentary exploring the brief life of rapper Lil Peep, “Everybody’s Everything” certainly doesn’t lack for perspectives. Interviewing virtually everyone who knew the musician (born Gustav Ahr), directors Sebastian Jones and Ramez Silyan cover the waterfront, from Peep’s family to his girlfriends, his innumerable collaborators, his managers and his fans, trying to distill exactly [...]

  • A Brinks armored truck pulls into

    Fox Layoffs: Distribution and Marketing Leaders Out

    Layoffs have hit Fox following the entertainment company’s sale to Disney. The staff cuts are hitting employees at the SVP, EVP, and president level. Senior staff is expected to be among the first to be impacted. However, the cuts will be deep, with the ax falling hardest of Fox’s film team. There could be as [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content