Three buzzy titles, all turning on women carving out their own destinies – Carmen Jaquier’s “Thunder,” Laura Baumeister’s “Daughter of Rage” and Dinara Drukarova’s “Grand Marin” – feature in the 13-title lineup of San Sebastian’s 2022 New Directors section.
Also making the New Directors’ cut – now firmly consolidated as the most important sidebar at the highest-profile film festival in the Spanish-speaking world – is “Tobacco Barns,” the awaited and second feature from Spain’s Rocío Mesa, as well as Jeong Ji-hye’s Jeonju Festival winner “Jeong-sun” which has its director hailed as a talent to track.
Eight of the 13 features are directed by women who also serve as protagonists in most of the section’s films. Their themes range wide, however, from the absurdity of Moldova’s past (“Carbon”) to an allegorical portrait of civil conflict (“Carbide”) to cybershaming (“Jeong-sun”) and women’s love of literature (“To Books and Women I Sing”).
A brief drill-down on New Directors titles:
“Carbide,” (“Garbura,” Josip Zuvan, Croatia)
As thick as thieves, kids Antonio and Nikola, cell-phone buffs and dab hands at pyrotechnics, see their friendship threatened by their feuding families. The first feature from TV writer-director Zuvan (“On the Border”).
“Carbon,” (Ion Bors, Moldova)
Set in ‘90s Moldova, on their way to the front, Dima and Vasea stumble across a carbonized body and set out to establish its identity. A tragi-comedy about Moldova’s absurd past, according to Bors, the film won both the WIP Europa Industry Award and the WIP Europa Award at last year’s San Sebastian.
“Daughter of Rage,” (“La Hija de Todas las Rabias,” Laura Baumeister, Nicaragua)
Mixing scathing social realism and oneiric lyricism, Baumeister’s first feature, a mother-daughter broken relationship story set at a garbage dump in Managua, Guatemala which swept San Sebastian’s Co-Production Forum (2019), before winning its WIP Latam (2021), a rare double.
“Grand Marin,” (Dinara Drukarova, Russia)
The first feature of Russian actor Drukarova, who plays the lead role of Lili. Knocking 50, she ups and leaves everything, arriving at a village in Iceland to fulfil her dream – of becoming a cod fisherwoman. The latest from Marianne Slot’s Slot Machine, producer of multiple Lars von Trier films and “Women at War,” and backed by Arte France Cinema.
“The Great Silence,” (“Den Store Stilhed,” Katrine Brocks, Denmark)
Alma, about to take her vows, is visited by her brother Erik, who reveals a secret tragedy in the past, plunging Alma into torment. The feature debut of Brocks, who won a Danish Academy Award for best short film in 2021 with “In The Blink of an Eye.”
“Jeong-sun,” (Jeong Ji-hye, South Korea)
Jeonju’s Korean competition prize winner this Spring, carried by Kim Geumsoon’s central performance, a portrait of the devastating effect of workplace cyber-shaming on the placid life of a middle-aged mother who’s a food-processing factory worker.
“Nagisa,” (Takeshi Kogahara, Japan)
A young man is tormented by the death of his adored little sister until he discovers her ghost in a haunted tunnel. The feature debut of Kogahara, whose commercials and short films screened at the Cannes Lions and Busan Film Festival.
“On Either Sides of the Pond,” (“Pokhar Ke Dunu Para,” Parth Saurabh, India)
A couple, having eloped, return to their native city after falling on hard times because of the pandemic. There, their relationship founders. The feature debut of Mumbai-based screenwriter, editor and director Saurabh.
“Roleless,” (“Miyamatsu To Yamashita,” Masahiko Sato (Japan), Yutaro Seki (Japan), Kentaro Hirase (U.S.)
A directorial three-hander, about the vicissitudes of a call-center operator who moonlights as a film extra.
“Spare Keys,” (“Fifi,” Jeanne Aslan, Turkey, Paul Santillan, France)
Over one Summer, Fifi 14, establishes a relationship with her friend’s older brother. Produced by France’s Haiku Films, which co-produced “And Tomorrow the Whole World.”
“Thunder,” (“Foudre,” Carmen Jaquier, Switzerland)
Maybe the buzziest title to date at New Directors, a title courted by multiple festivals. Returning to a backward hamlet high in the Swiss mountains in the summer of 1900, a young nun seeks to tread the same path to emancipation as her dead elder sister. From Geneva’s Close Up Films, a co-producer on “I Am Not Your Negro.”
“Tobacco Barns,” (“Secaderos,” Rocío Mesa, Spain)
Just added to San Sebastian’s Spanish film lineup, and the latest from Olmo Figueredo’s La Claqueta, an industry leader in Andalusia. Two coming of age tales set in a bucolic village on Granada’s Vega, mixing near documentary detail and genre tropes. It adds to the canon of Spanish female filmmakers – Carla Simón (“Alcarràs”), Elena López Riera (“The Water”) –delivering rural portraits of larger international import.
“To Books and Women I Sing,” (“A los libros a las mujeres canto,” Maria Elorza, Spain)
Already announced, a first doc feature from Spain’s Elorza, a well-known figure on the San Sebastian film scene, about women’s relation to books and oral literature.