San Sebastian: ’Collective Monologue,’ ‘Creature’ Among Ikusmira Berriak Projects

Ikusmira Berriak
© Festival de San Sebastián. Author Alex Abril

Jessica Sarah Rinland’s “Collective Monologue” and Elena Martin Gimeno’s “Creature” are among the five projects selected this year at Ikusmira Berriak.

The sixth edition of the training program is now in the second segment of its residency at San Sebastian, and a different world awaits its five participants since their first meeting in March.

Rinland, an Argentine-British installation artist and filmmaker, said that it was “a small miracle” any of this year’s cohort had made it back for the San Sebastian Film Festival, where they will present their projects to the industry.

Rinland is one of five filmmakers, selected from 185 submissions, who were granted a fellowship for this year’s program, to develop her second feature, which explores the rise and fall of zoos in society.

“I feel very fortunate to be supported by an institution which backs the development of non-conventional films, especially at this time when once again culture is being underfunded,” she added.

While the scheme was set up to support filmmakers from the Basque Country, it also supports those from the rest of Spain as well as international filmmakers, participants in the SSIFF’s student short film competition and students from the region’s Elías Querejeta Film School.

In 2020, the program was set to increase the first period of its residency – scheduled to take place in March and April this year – from four weeks to six in San Sebastian’s Tabakalera building – a former tobacco factory-turned-culture-center, which also houses the Film School.

But then the pandemic hit and the physical program was cancelled in its second week, forcing three of the filmmakers to return home with another two confined to the region, until borders reopened.

According to program coordinator Maialen Franco, Ikusmirra Berriak had to quickly change tack and regroup the participants into online tutorials with their mentors.

As with other years, this online support continued over the summer months – as did financial support – in the shape of a development grant of 5,000 ($6,000).

This year’s mentors include: Brazilian Filmmaker Sergio Oksman; Argentine film producer Eugenia Mumenthaler; Cannes Jury Prize winning director Oliver Laxe and “Rosa’s Wedding” producer Fernanda del Nido.

While COVID-19 may have denied this year’s cohort the benefits of an all-expenses paid residency in the heart of the mountainous Basque region, Spanish filmmaker Gimeno said her project “Creature” – a tale of female sexual awakening – has made good progress.

“We’re working on the second draft and with a much clearer idea about the core that drives us through this story,” she said.

“The dedication and the discussions with the tutors, although they had to be online due to the virus, were key to the development of the script,” she added.

“Creature”- which will be produced through Vilaut Films, Lastor Media and Avalon – is Gimeno’s second feature after her debut “Julia ist” enjoyed a prized festival circuit, leading to writing, directing and acting jobs on a slew of TV dramas, including “Perfect Life” and HBO series “Veneno” and “En Casa.”

While she wasn’t able to occupy the same physical space as her colleagues, one of the highlights of the program, she added, has been learning about their different approaches.

“It’s been very enriching for me, after working in television, I was looking forward to reconnecting with a more personal way to write and create. Sharing the process has been inspiring,” she said.

This year’s other selected projects are Chilean director Diego Céspedes’ “La misteriosa mirada del flamenco,” a poetic story that reflects on societal taboos; Gabriel Azorín’s “Anoche conquisté Tebas,” which compares men of the same age from different periods in time and “O corno do centeo,” a tale of maternity, femininity and identity set in the Galician countryside of the early ‘70s, by Jaione Camborda.

According to Franco, because SSIFF has made significant changes to how the festival operates this year, the second leg of the program has meant meetings with the industry will run virtually, while IB’s pitching sessions will be pre-recorded.

But for the filmmakers, the end goal remains the same – to secure further development support, finance and production partners for their projects.

“By the end of the festival, I hope to confirm an Argentine producer, co-producers and other collaborators who can help finance the film, to then begin shooting in 2021,” Rinland said.