[Updated 3:00pm EDT] The world premiere of Kim Ki-duk’s “Amen” along with Oren Moverman’s “Rampart” round out the 59th San Sebastian Film Festival’s competition section in additions made Wednesday. Also joining the festival’s Zabaltegi-Pearls section are titles from Steve McQueen, Johnnie To and Nicolas Provost.
San Sebastian has also added an international array of titles to its Zabaltegi-New Directors section. The entries from Iceland, Japan, Israel, Germany, South Korea, Chile, the U.S., Austria and the UK join the three Spanish movies already announced: Ignacio Ferreras’ “Wrinkles,” Sandra Sánchez’”Behind the Lights” and Telmo Esnal’s “Urte berri on, amona!”
All films will contend for the Kutza-New Directors award along with three titles from the Official selection: Mathieu Demy’s “Americano,” Oren Moverman’s “Rampart” and Sarah Polley’s “Take This Waltz.”
The 59th San Sebastian International Film Festival runs from September 16 to 24.
Below are the international additions to the Official Competition, Zabaltegi-New Directors and Zabaltegi-Pearls sections (synopses provided by the festival):
“Amen,” the new work from the South Korean moviemaker Kim Ki-duk, will have its world premiere in San Sebastian Film Festival. The film, integrally shot in Europe, narrates the mysterious voyage of a young Korean girl and her encounters with a man on her trail. Kim Ki-duk (Bonghwa, 1960) is one of the South Korean directors to enjoy greatest international prestige, particularly since his film Seom (The Isle, 2000) competed at the Venice Festival. Bi-mong (Dream, 2008) was selected for the Official Selection of San Sebastian Festival’s 56th edition, and Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring, 2003) bagged the Audience Award when it was presented in the Zabaltegi-Pearls section at the Festival’s 51st edition. He landed the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin Festival for Samaria (Samaritan Girl, 2004), and, at the last Cannes Festival, won the “Un Certain Regard” Award for Arirang (2011). Other important movies on his filmography are Suchwiin bulmyeong (Address Unknown, 2001), Nabbeun namja (Bad Guy, 2002), Hae anseon (The Coastguard, 2002) and Bin-jip (3-Iron, 2004).
“Rampart” (North America) is a drama helmed by Oren Moverman starring Woody Harrelson, Robin Wright, Steve Buscemi, Ben Foster, Sigourney Weaver, Anne Heche, Ice Cube and Ned Beatty. Based on the plot by acclaimed crime novelist James Ellroy, Rampart is the harrowing portrayal about a jaded cop in Los Angeles. Oren Moverman made his directorial debut with The Messenger (2009), winner of a Silver Bear at the Berlin Festival for Best Screenplay and two Academy Award nominations: one for Best Screenplay and another for Woody Harrelson as Best Supporting Actor. Rampart will compete for the Kutxa New Directors Award.
“Dyut Ming Gam” (A Life Without Principle), the latest work from the Hong Kong director Johnnie To, will compete in the Official Selection at the coming Venice Festival. In this new contribution to the genre for which he has shown great mastery, the action thriller, To narrates the intertwining fates of three people desperate to get their hands on money fast, all set around a robbery haul. With over fifty films to his name as a director and sixty as a producer, Johnnie To (Hong Kong, 1955) is one of the most prestigious figures on today’s Asian film scene. He has competed in the official selections of the Berlin, Cannes and Venice festivals and boasts a long career in which we can find true modern crime movie classics: Am zin (Running Out of Time, 1999), Cheung fo (The Mission, 1999), Chuen jik sat sau (Full Time Killer, 2001), PTU (2003), Dai si gin (Breaking News, 2004), Hak se wui (Election, 2005), Hak se wui yi wo wai kwai (Election 2, 2006), Fong juk (Exiled, 2006) and San taam (Mad Detective, 2007). His film Fuk sau (Vengeance, 2009) was presented in the Zabaltegi-Pearls section of San Sebastian Festival’s 57th edition.
“L’Envahisseur” (The Invader) is a Belgian production directed by Nicolas Provost looking at the subject of immigration through the adventures of an undocumented young African boy as he tries to get by in European society. The film, to compete in the “Orizzonti” section of Venice Festival, represents the feature debut of reputed video artist Nicolas Provost (Belgium, 1969), whose experimental shorts have competed in the most prestigious international festivals, including Berlin, Sundance, Rotterdam, Turin and Clermont-Ferrand: Papillon d’amour (2003), Exoticore (2004), The Divers (2006), Induction (2006), Suspension (2006), Plot Point (2008), Long Live the New Flesh (2009), Storyteller (2010) and Stardust (2010), among others. His work has been the subject of retrospectives and exhibitions the world over.
“Shame” is the new film by Steve McQueen, a British production starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan about Brandon, a 30-something man living in New York who is unable to manage his sex life. After his wayward younger sister moves into his apartment, Brandon’s world spirals out of control. Shame is a compelling and timely examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us. Steve McQueen (London, 1969) made people sit up and take notice on the movie scene when his opera prima, Hunger (2008), carried off the Caméra d’Or at Cannes Festival. The movie was subsequently acclaimed and accoladed at numerous international festivals and was presented in the Zabaltegi-Pearls section of the 56th edition of San Sebastian Festival. Shame has been selected for competition at the coming edition of the Venice Festival.
“Either Way” is an Icelandic production directed by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson, a dramatic comedy on the peculiar friendship between two youngsters who spend their time painting roads that no-one seems to use. First work from director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson, whose short film Skröltormar landed an award at the Columbia University Film Festival.
“A Beautiful Valley” by Hadar Friedlich is an Israeli-French co-production reflecting on the passing of time through an old woman who watches the kibbutz that has always been her home transform into a completely different reality. Hadar Friedlich previously directed the shorts Ta’anit dibbur (1996), Anashim (1998) and Shiur Moledet: Avdei Hashem (2003).
“Ending Note (Death of a Japanese Salesman)” is a Japanese production directed by Mami Sunada. This heartrending documentary follows the last months in the life of the director’s father, based on the diary he left after having been diagnosed with incurable cancer. Mami Sunada worked with the director Hirokazu Kore-eda as a production assistant on Aruitemo, Aruitemo (Still Walking, 2008) and as an assistant director on Kûki ningyô (Air Doll, 2009).
“Scars,” is the second film from the South Korean LIM Woo-seong, a dedicated approach to the emotional sufferings of a woman with an unfaithful husband. LIM Woo-seong’s first work, Chaesikjuuija (Vegetarian, 2009), competed at the Sundance Festival.
The German production “The River Used to be a Man,” directed by Jan Zabeil, tells the story of a young German man lost in Africa. With his short films L.H.O. (2007) and Was wei der Tropfen davon (2007), Jan Zabeil received several awards in national and international festivals. The River Used to Be a Man (Der Fluss war einst ein Mensch, 2011) is his feature debut.
“By the Fire,” by Alejandro Fernández Almendras, is a co-production between Chile and Germany. The movie narrates the moving love story between a man and a woman afflicted with a terminal illness. This film participated in the Films in Progress sections at San Sebastian Festival’s 58th edition in 2010 and at the Rencontres Cinéma d’Amérique in Toulouse in 2011 and was supported by the World Cinema Fund of the Berlin Festival and the Swiss Visions Sud Est fund. Alejandro Fernández Almendras’ first film, Huacho (2009), participated in the Critics’ Week at Cannes Festival and in Horizontes Latinos at the 57th edition of San Sebastian Festival before going on to enjoy presentation and land awards at various international festivals.
The North-American production “Silver Tongues,” helmed by Simon Arthur brings the disturbing tale of a couple involved in an obscure game of destruction with the people who cross their paths. Directorial debut by Simon Arthur, who had previously made a short on the same subject, Silver Tongues (2007), plus another entitled Rebel Song (2007).
“Still Life” is an Austrian film directed by Sebastian Meise on the destruction about a family due to a disturbing observation of Bernhard, the son. His father approaches prostitutes he calls “Lydia”. “Lydia” is also the name of Bernhard’s sister. Previous shorts directed by Sebastian Meise are Prises de vues (2003), Random (2005) and Dämonen (2006).
“Wild Bill,” by Dexter Fletcher. The heartfelt comic tale of an ex convict out on parole who returns home to find himself landed with taking care of his teenage boys. “Wild Bill” is an independent British production and the directorial debut of Dexter Fletcher, an actor whose previous credits include The Elephant Man (1980), The Long Good Friday (1980), Revolution (1985), Caravaggio (1986), Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Layer Cake (2004) and the TV series Band of Brothers (2001).