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15 Spanish Films Make the Cut at 59th San Sebastian Film Festival

15 Spanish Films Make the Cut at 59th San Sebastian Film Festival

This year’s San Sebastian Film Festival revealed today that their lineup will feature 15 Spanish films, three of which will compete for the Golden Shell in the Official Selection, and three of which will vie for the Kutza-New Directors Award in the Zabaltegi-New Directors lineup. The remaining films will screen out of competition.

Among the highlights that made the cut: “Madrid, 1987,” the latest work from David Truba whose documentary “Fernando’s Chair” screened in 2006 at the festival; the directorial debut from Eduardo Chapero-Jackson, “Verbo,” which fuses fantasy and rap music to tell a coming-of-age story; the alien invasion romantic comedy “Extraterrestrial,” from Nacho Vigalondo; and Enrique Urbizu’s thriller “No Rest for the Wicked,” playing in the Official Selection.

The 59th San Sebastian Film Festival runs September 16-24.

Below find the full lineup of Spanish cinema at the San Sebastian Festival with synopses provided by the event:

Official Selection

“No Rest For the Wicked”
The new movie from Enrique Urbizu, is a chair-gripping thriller starring José Coronado, Rodolfo Sancho, Helena Miquel and Juanjo Artero. Enrique Urbizu (Bilbao, 1962) sent strong ripples through the Spanish movie world when his film Todo por la pasta (Anything for Bread, 1991) left no doubt about his passion for genre cinema, a trait he was to highlight yet again with Cachito (1996) and La caja 507 (Box 507, 2002), proud winner of four awards at the Cognac Detective and Thriller Film Festival. He also took his drama La vida mancha (Life Marks 2003) to the Malaga Spanish Film Festival competition and landed the Best Film award at Nantes Spanish Film Festival.

“The Double Steps”
“The Double Steps”marks the return to the Festival’s Official Selection of Isaki Lacuesta, previous entrant in the 57th edition with Los condenados (The Damned, 2009) where he whisked off the FIPRESCI critics’ award. In this new work, the filmmaker brings us a fictional documentary taking its inspiration from the novelettish biography of French artist and author François Augiéras. The artist painted every inch of the walls of a military bunker in the desert and let it sink into the sand so that no-one would find it till the 21st Century. Searches for the bunker continue to nurture the myth… Who is Augiéras? A legionnaire, painter, writer, gangster, saint, thief, devil, or a bit of them all? The film boasts participation of the artist Miquel Barceló in one of the leading parts. Isaki Lacuesta (Girona 1975) has become one of the most interesting and unusual voices on today’s Spanish film scene thanks to works like Cravan vs. Cravan (2002), La leyenda del tiempo (The Legend of Time, 2006) and La noche que no acaba (All Night Long), presented at San Sebastian Festival’s 58th edition.

“The Sleeping Voice”
“The Sleeping Voice” is an adaptation of Dulce Chacon’s book of the same name, directed by Benito Zambrano and starring Inma Cuesta, María León, Marc Clotet and Daniel Holguín. Set in the terrible years immediately following the end of the Spanish civil war, the film narrates the moving relations between two sisters separated by the dictatorship when one of them was thrown into jail under Franco’s regime. Benito Zambrano (Lebrija, 1962) blasted onto the scene as one of Spanish film’s great surprises with his debut oeuvre, Solas (Alone, 1990), winner of awards at several international festivals: Berlin Festival’s “Panorama” section, the FIPRESCI prize at Brussels Festival and others at Cartagena, Havana and Tokyo; the film also carried off 5 Goyas, 7 Cinema Writers Circle Awards and a Silver Fotogramas. Zambrano has since then directed the TV series Padre Coraje (2002) and the film Habana Blues (2005).

Asier Altuna’s film “Bertsolari” will be screened out-of-competition in the Official Selection. This documentary takes a close-up look at popular bertsolaris (improvisers of Basque verse) in the Basque Country, delving into the secrets of this complex art of oral poetry. Asier Altuna (Bergara, 1969) had already made his mark in short films, some of which landed awards at different events: Txotx (1997), Topeka (2004) and Sarean (2006). His feature debut was the comedy, Aupa Etxebeste! (2005), an entrant in the Zabaltegi-New Directors section of San Sebastian Festival’s 53rd edition, at which it won the Youth Award.

As already announced, the opening gala will feature the European premiere of “Intruders,” a horror/thriller helmed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo with an international cast starring Clive Owen, Carice van Houten, Daniel Brühl, Pilar López de Ayala and Kerry Fox. The film will be screened out-of-competition as part of the Official Selection.

Zabaltegi – New Directors

“Wrinkes” directed by Ignacio Ferreras, is an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name by Paco Roca, for which he secured the Spanish National Comic Award in 2008. This animated movie describes the dreams, feelings and frustrations of a group of elderly people in a home for the aged. Ignacio Ferreras is backed by a solid career in the field of animated film, having worked in the art department of the TV series Rugrats and the film Astérix et les vikings (Asterix and the Vikings, 2006). He was also involved in animating the Dreamworks production Joseph: King of Dreams (2000) and the Oscar-nominated L’Illusioniste (The Illusionist, 2010). His short film How to Cope with Death (2002) landed prizes at several international festivals, including Annecy, Melbourne and Ottowa.

“Behind the Lights”
“Behind the Lights,” a documentary by Sandra Sánchez, traces the nomad life of Lourdes as she travels with her family and their dodgems from fairground to fairground in the north of Spain. Sandra Sánchez (Narón, 1970) is an editor and maker of documentaries including Aguiño, sobrevivir al Prestige (2003) and Sueños desde el abismo (2006). In addition to having made several short films and TV series for TVG (Galicia Television), she has edited a number of fictional and documentary films. Tralas luces marks her feature debut.

“Urte Berri On, Amona!”
“Urte Berri On, Amona!,” the first go-it-along feature from Telmo Esnal, uses touches of black humour to steer us through the misfortunes of a couple forced to care for the wife’s elderly mother. The film stars Josean Bengoetxea, Nagore Aramburu and Montserrat Carulla. Telmo Esnal (Zarauz, 1967) co-directed with Asier Altuna the shorts Txotx (1997) and 40 ezetz (1999) and the feature Aupa Extebeste! (2005). He also wrote the shorts Taxi! (2007) and Amona putz! (2010).

Zabaltegi Specials

“14 D’Arbril: Macia Contra Companys”
“14 D’Arbril: Macia Contra Companys” is the latest work helmed by Manuel Huerga. Written by Toni Soler and with a cast headed by Pere Ponce, Fermí Reixach, Eduard Fernández and Joel Joan, the film recreates the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic and the political confrontation between the two presidents of the Catalonian Government during this period, Francesc Macià and Lluís Companys. Manuel Huerga (Barcelona, 1957) has a long career under his belt as a film and TV director, including fine works like Gaudí (1989), Antártida (1995), Salvador (Puig Antich) (2006) and Diario de un astronauta (Son & Moon, 2009).

“A Light At the End of the Tunnel in the Basque Country”
The documentary feature “A Light At the End of the Tunnel in the Basque Country,” directed Eterio Ortega on an original idea by Elías Querejeta, produced by IDEM4, investigates the end of terrorism by ETA, taking a look at its roots in Basque nationalism and offering a collective portrait of this part of Basque society at a moment key to its future in peace and freedom. Eterio Ortega (Burgos, 1962) is remembered for his earlier documentaries on the same subject, Asesinato en febrero (Murder in February, 2001) and Perseguidos (Persecuted, 2004).

“The Clay Diaries”
“The Clay Diaries” is a documentary by Isaki Lacuesta conceived in collaboration with the artist Miquel Barceló. Having taken to spending long periods of time in Africa, Miquel has adapted to his wild surroundings, learning among others to paint in the company of termites and scorpions. Lacuesta penetrates Barceló’s African workshop to film the “Pasodoble” performance played out in the Malian village of Gogoli. The film team’s arrival causes tremendous stir in the village as the locals gather round to see what’s going on.

“Extraterrestrial” is the eagerly anticipated new film from director Nacho Vigalondo, an original and unpredictable romantic comedy with alien invasion included. The cast headlines Julián Villagrán, Michelle Jenner, Carlos Areces and Raúl Cimas. Nacho Vigalondo (Cabezón de la Sal, 1977) shot to fame when his short film 7:35 de la mañana (7:35 in the morning) garnered an Academy Award nomination. His first feature, Los cronocrímenes (2007), secured awards at the Austin, Amsterdam, Gérardmer and Philadelphia festivals, plus the Cinema Writers Circle Award for Best New Artist.

“Madrid 1987”
“Madrid 1987,” the latest work from David Trueba, portrays the Spanish ‘transition’ through the relationship struck up between a sceptical maturing author and the naive girl student who attempts to interview him. José Sacristán and María Valverde carry the full weight of this acting duel. Director and writer David Trueba (Madrid, 1969) debuted in 1996 with his film La buena vida (The Good Life), followed by Obra maestra (2000), Soldados de Salamina (Soldiers of Salamina, 2003) and Bienvenido a casa (Welcome Home, 2006), and the documentary La silla de Fernando (Fernando’s Chair, 2006), presented at the 54th edition of San Sebastian Festival.

“Puzzled Love”
“Puzzled Love” is an unexpected proposal from the ESCAC (Escola Superior de Cinema i Audioviuals de Catalunya) through its production company Escándalo Films: the tale of a couple’s relationship told in 13 episodes written and directed by 4th year students at the school. A tale packed with laughs and love mirrored in the different styles of 13 up-and-coming promises in our movie world.

“Verbo,” the feature directorial debut from Eduardo Chapero-Jackson, merges fantasy and rap music to narrate the initiatory voyage of a young girl powerfully drawn into a new dimension. Alba García headlines the movie, accompanied by a cast figuring Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Verónica Echegui, Najwa Nimri, Víctor Clavijo and Macarena Gómez. Chapero-Jackson (Madrid, 1971) has proven himself to be an excellent short filmmaker with three works to have bagged awards at a number of festivals: Contracuerpo (2005), Alumbramiento (2007) and The End (2009).

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