Suzanne Lindon’s “Spring Blossom,” João Paulo Miranda María’s “Memory House” and Grigory Kolomytsev’s “Chupacabra” will vie for the Kutxabank-New Directors Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival, the Basque Country event announced Tuesday.

This year, the New Directors competition takes in 11 films from Brazil, China, France, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Russia, the U.K. and Vietnam. Of them, seven will be debut features; the rest are second films.

One of the first-time directors at San Sebastian is Korean Kim Mi-jo, who recently won the Grand Prize in the Korean competition at the 2020 Jeonju Festival with “Gull,” the story of a middle-aged victim of rape that will make its international premiere at San Sebastian sold by sales agent M-Line Distribution. China’s Xingyi Dong will debut with “Slow Singing,” whose lead character is a man who returns to his hometown after release from jail.

Among first feature filmmakers are four with projects previously developed, awarded or programmed at the festival.

That’s the case of German-born Isabel Lamberti. Straddling documentary and fiction — with non-actors, a non-fiction aesthetic and fictionalized storylines — Lamberti’s “Last Days of Spring” records the emotional wrench suffered by the Gabarre Mendoza family at their imminent eviction from shanty town Cañada Real just outside Madrid, where they have lived happily enough the last 18 years. Amsterdam-based IJswater Films produces with Spain’s up-and-coming Tourmalet Films. France’s Loco Films handles sales.

David Pérez Sañudo, who participated in Zinemira-Kimuak in 2017 with short film “Aprieta pero raramente ahoga,” will present “Ane,” a feature film about a mother searching with increasing desperation for her missing daughter.

Sweeping Malaga’s 2020 Works in Progress, where it was picked up by Latido Films, “Ane” was developed at the Madrid Film School’s Incubator and produced by Amania Films.

The tale of a child’s discovery of a mystical beast, “Chupacabra,” the debut film of Russian Grigory Kolomytsev, was developed at the Ikusmira Berriak residential program.

Brazilian Joao Paulo Miranda María, who won the European Distributors and Exhibitors Award at Films in Progress 37 in France’s Toulouse, then a joint venture with San Sebastian, will present this year “Memory House,” a France-Brazil co-production.

A spiritual and fantastical story encapsulating the social and racial tensions in modern-day Brazil, “Memory House’s” sales are handled by Celluloid Dreams, and forms part of the 2020 Cannes Festival Official Selection.

Also competing in New Directors is another Cannes Festival 2020 label title, “Spring Blossom,” about a young girl torn between her love for an older man and her enjoyment of adolescent life. Directed by and starring Suzanne Lindon, “Spring,” marking her feature debut, will receive its European premiere at San Sebastian, sold by French sales house Luxbox.

Among the four filmmakers who compete in New Directors with their second features are the U.K.’s Ben Sharrock. After debuting with “Pikadero” (2015), he returns with “Limbo,” a culture-clash satire on the difficulties and hopes of refugees. Previously winning a Cannes 2020 label, and sold by Protagonist Pictures, the film makes its European premiere at San Sebastian.

Another second feature, “Death Knell,” directed by Pamplona’s Imanol Rayo, winner of the Zinemira Award with “Bi anai” (2011). Rayo returns to San Sebastian with a noirish tale of hatred between members of a rural family, adapting Miren Gorrotxategi’s hit novel “33 Ezkil.”

Having turned heads with his first film, “Silent Night” (2017), Polish director Piotr Domalewski will present “I Never Cry,” about a girl who travels to Ireland to collect her father’s body when he dies in a work accident. A Poland-Ireland co-production, “Cry” has been picked up by France’s Wide Management for international sales.

Finally, Japan’s Akio Fujimoto, whose “Passage of Life” (2017) won two awards in the Asian Future section at Tokyo Film Festival, will be bringing “Along the Sea,” a Kazutaka Watanabe production at Tokyo-based Exnkk, which follows a Vietnamese woman who escapes from her workplace as a technical trainee and starts to work illegally in Japan in order to support her family.

All the films selected for New Directors will be screened as world premieres, with the already mentioned exceptions.

The 68th edition of the San Sebastian Film Festival runs from Sept. 18 to 26.


“Spring Blossom,” (Suzanne Lindon, France)

“Ane,” (David Pérez Sañudo, Spain)

“Memory House,” (João Paulo Miranda Maria, Brazil, France)

“Chupacabra,” (Grigory Kolomytsev, Russia)

“Gull,” (Kim Mi-jo, South Korea)

“Slow Singing,” (Xingyi Dong, China)

“Death Knell,” (Imanol Rayo, Spain)

“I Never Cry,” (Piotr Domalewski, Poland, Ireland)

“Last Days of Spring,” (Isabel Lamberti, Netherlands, Spain)

“Limbo,” (Ben Sharrock, U.K.)

“Along the Sea,” (Akio Fujimoto, Japan, Vietnam)

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Ane Courtesy: San Sebastian Festival