San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival Announces New Directors Sidebar Selection

MADRID — The San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival announced at a press conference on Tuesday morning the fourteen projects selected to participate in this year’s Kutxabank New Directors section at the northern Spanish festival.

Of the participating films, eight are debuts and six are second works, three of the latter from semi-new filmmakers who previously participated in New Directors with their debut features. Notably, this year’s selection includes eight films from nine women filmmakers, a statistic which challenges the selections made by other, similarly-profiled festivals in their competition selections.

The number of returning directors suggests a usefulness of participating in the section. New Directors consolidated as the festival’s major sidebar, whose world premieres often go on to have a vigorous festival circuit career and break out at times to notable foreign territory sales.

Typically, the New Directors sidebar also provides a look at the themes and styles that a younger generation of filmmakers find compelling. This year’s slate features themes of inter-generational family and community conflict, mental and physical health and rites of passage. A number of the films also exhibit strong genre elements in their execution.

Domestic entries come in Lucía Alemany’s “The Innocence,” a bittersweet coming of age tale set in a Valencia neighborhood where tension rises between generations, and “Jordi’s Letters” from Maider Fernandez Iriarte, a product of San Sebastian Ikusmira Berriak development program which features the director’s relationship with 51-year-old Jordi, a man with cerebral palsy who says he has lost a sense of communicating with God.

Japanese “Bonfire at Dawn” from director Koichi Doi, Korean “Scattered Night” from Lee Jihyoung and Kim Sol, Hinde Boujeema’s “Noura’s Dream” from Tunisia, Belgium and France and Svetla Tsotsorkova’s “Sister” from Bulgaria and Qatar are four of the five films selected not exclusively from Europe or the Americas. New Directors often has the longest international reach of the festival’s competitive sections.

Each focus on parent-child relationships, and in each case one parent is isolated with their child or children, stuck in situations difficult for the kids to understand, but which will shape the rest of their lives.

The fifth non-Euro/American film is Oren Gerner’s “Africa,” produced out of Israel. The film follows a 30-year village employee who finds himself replaced by a group of inexperienced local teenagers, and must deal with a life that seems to have lost its purpose.


South America has two entries in this year’s New Directors. Argentina’s ‘90s-set “The Good Intentions” from Ana Garcia Blaya focuses on two children in a shared-parenting situation, and weighs in as one of the two biggest standouts from last December’s Ventana Sur, where it was snapped up by Film Factory Ent.

Jorge Riquelme Serrano brings “Some Beasts” a reflection on insecurities and the capacity for violence in Chile’s middle class which pairs Chile’s two biggest international stars, Alfredo Castro and Paulina Garcia.

David Raboy’s “The Giant” is the lone U.S. title selected to participate in this year’s New Directors. The film turns on a small-town girl’s first love who’s returned home after leaving without notice a year before, and brings with him some frightening demons.

Ignas Jonynas’ “Nematoma” is a Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine co-production turning on a dance TV show contestant who feigns blindness to secure his place on the show, and a past he can’t escape.

A U.K.-France co-production, Fyzal Boulifa’s “Lynn + Lucy” tracks two lifelong besties who experience conflict like never before when Lucy, the wilder of the two, has her first child. A mother herself, Lynn is critical of Lucy’s reaction to becoming a mother.

From Norway, Jorunn Myklebust Syversen’s “Disco” turns on a world-champion disco dancer whose family ignores her need for medical help in favor of faith-based healing.

Delphine Lehericey’s Swiss-Belgian co-production “Beyond the Horizon” is a mid-‘70s period story of a 13-year-old boy whose family environment and his own innocence fall apart amidst a sweltering summer heat wave.

The jury-selected winner of the Kutxabank-New Directors Award will receive a prize of €50,000 ($55,740) split between the director and the film’s distribution campaign in Spain.



“Africa,” (Oren Gerner, Israel)

“Some Beasts,” (Jorge Riquelme Serrano, Chile)

“Disco,” (Jorunn Myklebust Syversen, Norway)

“The Innocence,” (Lucía Alemany, Spain)

“The Good Intentions,” (Ana Garcia Blaya, Argentina)

“Jordi’s Letters,” (Maider Fernandez Iriarte, Spain)

“Beyond the Horizon,” (Delphine Lehericey, Switzerland, Belgium)

“Noura’s Dream,” (Hinde Boujeema, Tunisia, Belgium, France)

“Lynn + Lucy,” (Fyzal Boulifa, U.K., France)

“Nematoma,” (Ignas Jonynas, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine)

“Scattered Night,” (Lee Jihyoung, Kim Sol, South Korea)

“Sister,” (Svetla Tsotsorkova, Bulgaria, Qatar)

“The Giant,” (David Raboy, U.S.A., France)

“Bonfire at Dawn,” (Koici Doi, Japan)

John Hopewell contributed to this article.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Yara Shahidi

    Audible Teams Up With Big Names as Audio-Only Storytelling Expands

    Hobnobbing with the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Kate McKinnon and Yara Shahidi isn’t typically the gloss applied to the cerebral audiobook set, but Audible is putting the humble audio story through its own movie-makeover montage, inking high-profile development deals with entertainment names like “The Walking Dead” comics creator Skybound Entertainment, Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Lorne [...]

  • Parasite

    Oscars: South Korea Selects Palme d'Or Winner 'Parasite' for International Feature Film Award

    South Korea has selected Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or winner “Parasite” as its entry for the newly rebranded International Feature Film award at the 92nd Academy Awards, it was announced Wednesday by the Korean Film Council. U.S. distributor Neon had already positioned the film as a prime awards season contender following the film’s triumph at the Cannes Film [...]

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh'Patrick Melrose' TV show

    Gina Rodriguez's Sci-Fi Thriller 'Awake' Rounds Out Cast (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barry Pepper and “Game of Thrones” actor Finn Jones will join Gina Rodriguez in Netflix’s sci-fi thriller “Awake.” The newly announced cast also includes Ariana Greenblatt, Frances Fisher, Shamier Anderson, Lucius Hoyos and Gil Bellows. “Awake” is set after a sudden global event wipes out all electronics and takes away humankind’s ability [...]

  • Woody Allen

    Woody Allen's 'A Rainy Day in New York' to Open Deauville Film Festival

    After being shelved by Amazon Studios in the U.S., Woody Allen’s “A Rainy Day in New York” will be opening the 45th edition of the Deauville American Film Festival in France this fall. “A Rainy Day in New York,” which stars Timotheé Chalamet and Elle Fanning, will be the 8th film by Allen to play [...]

  • Geneva Wasserman

    Condé Nast Taps Film Veteran Geneva Wasserman as SVP of Motion Pictures

    Condé Nast Entertainment hired Geneva Wasserman as senior vice president of motion pictures, overseeing development of the media company’s slate of feature film properties. Wasserman, a nearly 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, most recently served as co-founder and executive producer of production firm Project Z Entertainment. She takes over the role at CNE after [...]

  • Phyllis Nagy

    Writers Guild Candidate Phyllis Nagy Warns of Risks to Residuals (EXCLUSIVE)

    Phyllis Nagy, who is challenging Writers Guild of America West President David Goodman, has warned that guild leaders are endangering future residuals. Nagy, in a message posted Wednesday on her Writers Forward Together site, said residual payments are the most important issue the WGA faces during upcoming negotiations on a successor deal to the current master [...]

  • New York Festival Sets Documentaries on

    New York Film Festival Sets Documentaries on Merce Cunningham, Roy Cohn

    Films on Merce Cunningham, Roy Cohn and Oliver Sacks are among the notable titles set for the Spotlight on Documentary lineup at the 57th New York Film Festival. Alla Kovgan’s “Cunningham 3D” centers on dancer and choreographer Cunningham, who was at the forefront of American modern dance for half a century. The Cohn documentary “Bully. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content