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San Sebastián Adds Films by Mendoza, Groeningen, Garrel, Strickland to the Golden Shell Race

Liu Jie's 'Baby' and Tuva Novotny's debut 'Blind Spot,' also join to the 18-features list vying for festival's top prize

Brillante Mendoza’s “Alpha, the Right to Kill,” Felix Van Groeningen’s Brad Pitt-produced “Beautiful Boy,” Louis Garrel’s “A Faithful Man” and Peter Strickland’s “In Fabric” will compete for San Sebastian’s Golden Seashell, the Basque festival announced Friday.

Further new main competition titles unveiled take in Liu Jie’s “Baby” and Tuva Novotny’s debut “Blind Spot.”

The six titles join 12 already-announced competition contenders. San Sebastian has yet to unveil its closing film.

Festival’s official selection – which takes in competition and out-of-competition titles – opens Sept. 21 with Ricardo Darín and Mercedes Morán-starrer “An Unexpected Love.” Playing in competition, the film represents the directorial debut by Juan Vera, Argentine producer of titles by Pablo Trapero and Lucrecia Martel.

Felix Van Groeningen won the Panorama audience award at the 2013 Berlinale with “Alabama Monroe,” Oscar-nominated for best foreign language film. In “Beautiful Boy,” his English language debut, toplining Steve Carell and Timothée Chamalet, Van Groeningen tells the real-facts inspired tale of a father’s struggle to rescue his son from drugs addiction. Plan B’s Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, the Oscar-winner producers of “Moonlight” and “12 Years a Slave,” teamed with Amazon Studios to produce the film.

A Cannes, Berlín and Venice regular, Philippines’ Brillante Mendoza competes in San Sebastián for the first time ever with “Alpha: The Right to Kill,” a thriller set against the background of a Philippine government crackdown on illegal drugs. The Mendoza-produced film “Underground,” well received by some and directed by debutant Daniel Palacio, already played last year at San Sebastián New Directors.

The second feature by France’s Louis Garrel, “A Faithful Man,” sold by Wild Bunch, tells a family drama toplining Laetitia Casta, Lily-Rose Depp and Garrel himself, who’s already acted in films by Bernardo Bertolucci, Bertrand Bonello, Michel Hazanavicius and Christophe Honoré.

U.K.’s Peter Strickland has become a cult helmer after three features: “Katalin Varga,” who earned him the 2009 Berlinale’s European Discovery Award; “Berberian Sound Studio,” selected for 2012’s Locarno; and “The Duke of Burgundy” (2014). Sold by Bankside Films, “In Fabric” is set against the backdrop of a busy winter sales period in a department store, following the life of a accursed dress as it passes from person to person.

Winner of the 2006 Venice Horizons section with “Courthouse on Horseback,” Liu Jie presents in San Sebastián “Baby,” produced by “The Assassin’s” Hou Hsiao-hsien, that turns on a young woman trying to save a sick girl, against a background of Chinese authorities’ birth control.

Marking the helming debut of Swedish actress Tuva Novotny (“Annihilation,” “Borg / McEnroe”), “Blind Spot” focuses on the struggles of a mother to understand her teenage daughter’s crisis, while tragedy strikes the whole family.

The six new titles vying for the Golden Shell will face-off with previously announced films by Iciar Bollaín, Claire Denis, Simon Jaquemet, Kim Jee-woon, Naomi Kawase, Isaki Lacuesta, Benjamín Naishtat, Valeria Sarmiento, Rodrigo Sorogoyen, Markus Schleinzer, Juan Vera and Carlos Vermut.

The 66th San Sebastián Film Festival runs Sept. 21-29.

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