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Woody Allen to Open San Sebastian, Lucrecia Martel and More Set for Locarno

Festival season continues to take shape with new projects from Allen, Martel, Lav Diaz, and more.

Kristen Stewart, Woody Allen, Jesse EisenbergUntitled Woody Allen project on set filming, New York, America - 21 Oct 2015

Woody Allen

Kristin Callahan/ACE/REX/Shutterstock

On the heels of yesterday’s announcement about plans for the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival comes news about two more upcoming events: San Sebastian and Locarno. Variety reports Woody Allen’s new comedy-drama “Rifkin’s Festival” will open the 2020 San Sebastian Film Festival in September. The event is celebrating its 68th edition this year. “Rifkin’s Festival” will mark Allen’s second San Sebastian opener after “Melinda and Melinda” at the 2004 festival, where he was also the recipient of the Donostia Award for career achievement. Other Allen films that have played San Sebastian include “Manhattan,” “Zelig,” “Match Point,” and “Irrational Man,” among others.

Many in the industry expected San Sebastian to host the world premiere of Allen’s new film as the director shot the project in and around the city last summer. “Rifkin’s Festival” centers around an American couple who travel to the San Sebastian Film Festival and are pulled in opposite directions. The wife starts an affair with a famous French film director and the husband falls in love with a local Spanish woman. The cast includes Elena Anaya, Louis Garrel, Gina Gershon, Wallace Shawn, and Christoph Waltz. The film is Allen’s follow-up to “A Rainy Day in New York,” which topped box offices around the world but never received a U.S. theatrical release.

As for the Locarno Film Festival, the August-set event announced earlier this year it would be canceling this year’s edition and instead launching a “For the Future of Films” initiative  to support directors whose productions were disrupted by the pandemic. Locarno has announced 20 projects for its “For the Future of Films” competition, in which juries of filmmakers will award financial prizes. Half the projects are from Swiss filmmakers and half are from international directors. Both groups will have a winner that will receive $72,000 in support.

Included in the international group for the “For the Future of Films” initiative is “Chocobar,” the first documentary from “Zama” director Lucrecia Martel. The project is described as a “hybrid, creative documentary about the murder of indigenous activist Javier Chocobar by a white landowner.” Locarno mentioned that “after a decade of research, ‘Chocobar’ was at a key stage of production when it was interrupted by the coronavirus crisis.”

A new Lav Diaz project, “When the Waves Are Gone,” is also in the running. Locarno notes the film was originally disrupted by a volcanic eruption and then halted because of the pandemic. “Regardless, the Filipino auteur is compelled to push forward with this tale of vengeance, as it asks urgent questions during a period of disarray the Philippines finds itself in,” the festival added.

Other international projects selected for Locarno include new works from “Dead Souls” director Wang Bing and “Jauja” filmmaker Lisandro Alonso.

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