Fernando León de Aranoa’s “The Good Boss,” starring Javier Bardem, Alejandro Amenábar’s first drama series “La Fortuna,” and Carlos Saura’s “Rosa Rosae. A Civil War Elegy” head a robust Spanish presence at September’s San Sebastian Film Festival.
Also in the mix are new films from Jonás Trueba, Iciar Bollaín and Paco Plaza, all playing in main competition, plus Daniel Monzón’s Warner Bros.-distributed “Las leyes de la frontera,” selected as San Sebastián’s closing night film, and “The Daughter,” from Manuel Martín Cuenca. “Rosa Rosae” will screen at the San Sebastian’s opening night ceremony on Sept. 17.
World premiering at Venice, Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas movie shoot comedy “Official Competition” will open San Sebastian’s best of fests section Perlak.
Spanish cinema’s socio-political traditions remain strong: “The Good Boss” is a study of company management machinations. In a highly polarized Spain, Bollaín’s “Maixabel,” a true life inspired Basque conflict reconciliation drama, is sure to anger Spain’s right.
But newer winds are blowing through Spain’s cinema: Trueba’s “Quien lo impide” reportedly straddles documentary and fiction to tell better its story, a hallmark of much contemporary filmmaking.
Plaza’s “La abuela” is a horror pic, joining Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s “Earwig” as a second genre movie competing for San Sebastian top prize Concha de Oro. “This is a year when genre has a continued presence at all important festivals,” San Sebastian director José Luis Rebordinos said at a brief presentation of the festival’s Spanish lineup on Friday morning.
Details of titles:
“La abuela,” (Paco Plaza, Spain)
The latest shock fest from Spanish genre icon Plaza (“Valentina,” “[REC]”), starring Coco Chanel model Vera Valdez and written by Carlos Velmut, director of Golden Shell winner “Magical Girl.” Produced by Spain’s Apache Films and France’s Les Films du Worso, Atresmedia Cine and Sony Pictures International Productions. An anticipated title.
“The Good Boss,” (“El buen patrón,” Fernando León de Aranoa, Spain)
Reprising issues of De Aranoa’s 2002 Golden Shell winner “Mondays in the Sun,” a movie that sealed a young Bardem’s acting reputation, “The Good Boss” stars Bardem as the owner of an industrial scales factory who has just one week to turn his company around, in order to win an award for business excellence. The Mediapro Studio produces, MK2 sells.
“Maixabel,” (Iciar Bollaín, Spain)
Bollaín’s fourth competition contender after 2003’s “Take My Eyes,” a best actor and actress winner and 2018 best screenplay laureate “Yuli.” Cannes best actress co-winner Blanca Portillo (“Volver”) plays Maixabel Lasa, widow of former Basque Country governor Juan Mari Jauregui, who agrees in 2011 to meet one of his ETA killers.
“Quién lo impide,” (Jonás Trueba, Spain)
A distinctive, cliché breaking vision of the millennial generation shot over five years, “Quien lo impide” shows the dreams, concerns and vision of the present and future of young Madrileñans, Rebordinos said. A sixth feature addition to Trueba’s engaging corpus, often heavily influenced by France’s François Truffaut and Eric Rohmer, and a follow-up to Karlovy Vary Fipresci Prize winner “The August Virgin.”
OUT OF COMPETITION
“The Daughter,” (“La Hija,” Manuel Martín Cuenca, Spain)
The latest from the versatile Martín Cuenca, reteaming after “Cannibal” with Fernando Bovaira’s Mod Producciones, Alejandro Amenábar’s near career-long producer. “An anguished thriller,” said Rebordinos, it turns on a pregnant 15-year-old taken in by a childless couple on one – almost inevitably questioned – condition.
“La Fortuna,” (Alejandro Amenábar, Spain, U.S.)
The big one. Raising the bar on Spanish drama series ambitions, a six-part series produced by Movistar Plus, AMC Studios in the U.S. and Spain’s Mod Producciones, spoken in Spanish and English and boasting U.S. and U.K. star actors: “The Lovely Bones’” Stanley Tucci, ”The Wire’s” Clarke Peters and “Years & Years’” T’Nia Miller. It’s also a contemporary humanistic adventure thriller, flashing back to an 1804 naval battle, but centered in modern times as Tucci plays a simpatico buccaneering treasure hunter who discovers and takes back to the U.S. the biggest shipwreck haul in history. A rookie diplomat (Alvaro Mel) is dispatched to reclaim the treasure. San Sebastian will screen all six episodes, Movistar Plus announced Friday.
“Las leyes de la frontera,” (Daniel Monzón, Spain)
Writing fact-inspired fiction, few writers have plumbed Spain’s Civil War and recent history with such probing perspicacity as Javier Cercas, author of novel “Soldiers of Salamis,” which won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2004. A political coming of age tale set in Spain in 1978, Cercas’ novel turns on a shy middle-class student. He befriends two delinquents, Zarco and Tere, and embarks on a series of thefts, robberies and heists, as he falls hard for Tere. Monzón’s adaptation, produced by Ikiru Films, La Terraza Films, Atresmedia Cine and Buendía Estudios and released in Spain by Warner Bros. Pictures España, casts the novel as a major upscale commercial play with high production values.
“Rosa Rosae, La Guerra Civil,” (Carlos Saura, Spain)
Set to the emotive music of José Antonio Labordeta, shooting photos and drawings by the now nearly 90-year-old director, a heartfelt testament to the horrors of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War made by Saura who experienced its terrors as a child. An Opening Gala film.
“Between Two Dawns,” (“Iki Safak Arasinda,” Selman Nacar, Turkey)
A standout and eventual double winner at San Sebastian’s 2020 WIP Europa, Nacar’s debut turns on a man struggling to do the right thing following an accident in his family’s business. Paris-based Luxbox handles world sales.
“Josephine,” (“Josefina,” Javier Marco, Spain)
Toplining Emma Suárez, star of Pedro Almodóvar’s “Julieta,” Marco’s debut has a prison guard inventing an inmate daughter to meet a frequent visitor. White Leaf Producciones and Featurent produce the feature, a standout among 2018 projects at the Madrid Film School’s ECAM Incubator. A romantic drama with lighter touches and a deft but penetrating critique of contemporary societal ills, says Feel Content’s Geraldine Gonard, the film’s sales agent.
“Dusk Stone,” (“Piedra Noche,” Ivan Fund, Argentina, Chile, Spain)
A third genre film, or at least one that employs genre tropes, “Dusk Stone” and won the WIP Latam Industry Award at 2020’s San Sebastian. A fantasy drama set at a small seaside town in Argentina, directed by Argentina’s Fund who broke out with 2010’s “The Lips” and has directed five fiction movies and three doc medium features since.
“They Carry Death,” (“Eles transportan a morte,” Helena Girón, Samuel M. Delgado, Spain, Colombia)
A parallel drama set in 1492 on Columbus’ first voyage and back in Spain. The directors’ first feature, bound for Venice Critics Week and described by San Sebastian Festival as “a tale of adventures with a critical discourse on colonization.”
“Heltzear,” (Mikel Gurrea, Spain)
Spain, 2000. A teen girl trains for a climb as the Basque Conflict still rages. A short from Basque director to track Gurrea whose “The Cork,” now in production and developed at San Sebastian’s Ikusmira Berriak, rates as one of the most anticipated Spanish feature debuts of 2022.
“Official Competition,” (“Competencia Oficial,” Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat, Spain)
Starring Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martínez, a Venice best actor winner for “A Distinguished Citizen,” a movie-set tragicomedy of ego-fueled rivalry from Argentine directorial duo Cohn and Duprat. Produced, like “The Good Boss,” by The Mediapro Studio as it drives into moviemaking.