Twenty-one films with Spanish production are among the official selection films confirmed for the 65th edition of the San Sebastian Festival. From September 22 to 30 the Festival will premiere Life and Nothing More, the second film by Antonio Méndez Esparza, winner of the Cannes Critics’ Week award with Aquí y allá; Handia, the latest proposal from Jon Garaño and Aitor Arregi, director and screenwriters of Loreak (Flowers); El autor, by Manuel Martín Cuenca, third-time contender for the Golden Shell; Marrowbone, the directorial debut of screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez; the first two episodes of the series La peste (The Plague), directed by Alberto Rodríguez; and Morir (Dying), the second film by Fernando Franco.
Manuel Martín Cuenca returns to the Official Selection with El autor, a film based on the novel El móvil (The Motive), by Javier Cercas, starring Javier Gutiérrez, María Leon and Antonio de la Torre, with a soundtrack by José Luis Perales.
Handia, based on the true story of Miguel Joaquín Eleizegi (1818-1861), known as the Altzo giant, explores his human side and how he related to the society of his time. Handia is the new film by Aitor Arregi and Jon Garaño. Jon Garaño directed Loreak (Flowers, Official Selection, 2014) together with Jose Mari Goenaga; Aitor Arregi wrote Loreak and directed Lucio (premiered in Zabaltegi Special Screenings in 2007) also with Goenaga.
Having landed the Cannes Critics’ Week award for Aquí y allá, his take on Mexican emigration, the moviemaker from Madrid, Antonio Méndez Esparza turns his eyes in Life and Nothing More towards the situation of a single mother and her 14 year-old son in the state of Florida.
Featuring out of competition in the Official Selection is Marrowbone, directorial debut of Sergio G. Sánchez, screenwriter of El Orfanato (The Orphanage), The Impossible (2012 Official Selection) and Palmeras en la nieve (Palm Trees in the Snow), who has recruited young British and North American talents for the film: Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split), George Mackay (Captain Fantastic), Mia Goth (A Cure for Wellness, Nymphomaniac. Vol. II) and Charlie Heaton (As You Are, Stranger Things).
Featuring in the special screenings section is Morir (Dying) by Fernando Franco, winner of the Special Jury Prize at the San Sebastian Festival and of the Goya Award to Best New Director for his first work, La herida. Morir (Dying), a free adaptation of the book of the same name by Arthur Schnitzler, stars Andrés Gertrúdix and Marian Álvarez, also winner with La herida of the Best Actress Silver Shell, endorsed by the Goya for Best Actress.
Spanish participation can also be found in La cordillera (The Summit), the film directed by Santiago Mitre which will be shown in a special screening to celebrate presentation of the Donostia Award to its leading man, the Argentine actor Ricardo Darín.
In New Directors, Nicolás Combarro (A Coruña, 1979), a well-known artist who uses different forms of expression including photography and sculpture, presents his first film, Alberto García-Alix. La línea de la sombra (Alberto García-Alix. The Shadow Line), portraying the universe of the Spanish photographer. Also in the section dedicated to new talents is the co-production between Chile, Spain and Argentina, Princesita (Princess), directed by Marialy Rivas, whose first feature, Joven & Alocada (Young & Wild, 2012), won the Best Screenplay Award at Sundance. Princesita (Princess) was a participant in the Films in Progress selection in 2015.
The co-production between Chile, Germany, Spain and United States Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman) by Sebastián Lelio, winner of the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the Berlinale, will open Horizontes Latinos, the selection of which includes La educación del Rey (Rey’s Education), by Santiago Esteves, winner of the two Films in Progress awards last year (Films in Progress 30 Industry Award and the CAACI / Ibermedia TV Films in Progress Award).
Competitors for the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera award include the first work as a director from Gustavo Salmerón, the documentary Muchos hijos, un mono y un castillo (Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle), an allegory of the crisis which garnered the Best Documentary Award at the Karlovy Vary Festival, and the shorts Plágan (Kimuak 2017), by Koldo Almandoz, who competed in the same section last year with Sipo Phantasma (Ghost Ship), and Plus Ultra, by Samuel M. Delgado and Helena Girón, selected for the Locarno Festival. The coming feature film project by Delgado and Girón, Eles transportan a morte, has been selected for the Ikusmira Berriak 2017 program.
Furthermore, the co-production Loving Pablo, the film about drug lord Pablo Escobar, directed by Fernando León de Aranoa and starring Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz, will close the Pearls section and will be screened in the Anoeta Velodrome.
The Velodrome also will host the premieres of Operación Concha (Operation Golden Shell), a screwball comedy set at the San Sebastian Festival, directed by Antonio Cuadri (El corazón de la tierra /The Heart of the Earth) and starring Jordi Mollà and Karra Elejalde, and Fe de etarras, fourth feature as a director from Borja Cobeaga, written by Diego San José and starring Javier Cámara, Julián López, Miren Ibarguren and Gorka Otxoa.
The Spanish Television gala will host the premiere of La llamada, the adaptation of the homonymous musical. The directors of the play, Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrossi, take their first steps in feature film territory with this movie starring Macarena García (Best Actress Silver Shell for Blancanieves / Snow White), Anna Castillo and Belén Cuesta.
Lastly, competing at the International Film Students Meeting is L’home llop (The Wolfman), directed by a student of the ESCAC (Escola Superior de Cinema i Audiovisuals de Catalunya), Lluís Sellarés.
MANUEL MARTÍN CUENCA (SPAIN – MEXICO)
Production: LAZONA FILMS, ALEBRIJE CINE Y VÍDEO, ICÓNICA PRODUCCIONES, LA LOMA BLANCA P.C.
Cast: Javier Gutiérrez, María León, Adelfa Calvo, Adriana Paz, Tenoch Huerta, Rafael Téllez, Antonio de la Torre
Álvaro wants to be an author, but everything he puts down on paper rings false, pretentious and insipid. He works as a clerk at a notary’s office in Seville and his life is dull, only coloured by his dreams. His wife, Amanda, is quite the opposite. She’s always had her feet firmly on the ground and has never dreamt of becoming an author. However, she sets out to write and produces a bestseller. The ironies of life. Separation is inevitable. Just then, Álvaro decides to fulfil his dream: to write a great novel. But he can’t; he has neither the talent nor the imagination. Guided by Juan, his writing teacher, he studies the fundamentals of the novel, until discovering one day that fiction is in fact based on reality. Álvaro starts manipulating his neighbours and friends to create a story, a real story bigger than fiction.
AITOR ARREGI, JON GARAÑO (SPAIN)
Production: IRUSOIN, MORIARTI PRODUKZIOAK, KOWALSKI FILMS S.L., AUNDIYA FILM A.I.E.
Cast: Eneko Sagardoy, Joseba Usabiaga, Iñigo Aranburu, Ramon Agirre, Aia Kruse
Having fought in the First Carlist War, Martin returns to his family farm in Gipuzkoa only to find that his younger brother, Joaquín, towers over him in height. Convinced that everyone will want to pay to see the tallest man on Earth, the siblings set out on a long trip all over Europe, during which ambition, money and fame will forever change the family’s fate. A story based on true events.
LIFE AND NOTHING MORE
ANTONIO MÉNDEZ ESPARZA (SPAIN – USA)
Production: AQUÍ Y ALLÍ FILMS
Cast: Andrew Bleechington, Regina Williams, Robert Williams, Ry’nesia Chambers
Life and Nothing More portrays the reality of a single mother who lives in north Florida state with her children. In a context of social inequality, her life is nothing but a constant struggle to make it to the end of the month, while coping with routine and everyday difficulties, among which are the problem of her son’s behaviour and her permanent conflict when trying to become part of society.
Not in competition
LA PESTE (THE PLAGUE)
ALBERTO RODRÍGUEZ (SPAIN)
Production: MOVISTAR+, ATÍPICA FILMS
Cast: Pablo Molinero, Paco León, Sergio Castellanos, Patricia López Arnaiz, Manolo Solo, Lupe del Junco, Tomás del Estal, Paco Tous, Cecilia Gómez
During an outbreak of the bubonic plague in the magnificent Seville of 1587, Mateo, a former soldier, returns, honouring his word to find and extract a dead friend’s son from the city. Previously, Mateo had been forced to flee the city to save his life, having been sentenced to death by the Inquisition for printing forbidden books. Before he can complete his task, Mateo is arrested by the Inquisitor’s bailiffs, who promise to pardon his life in exchange for solving a series of crimes of diabolic overtones being committed in Seville.
SERGIO G. SÁNCHEZ (SPAIN)
Production: MARROWBONE, S.L, TELECINCO CINEMA
Cast: George MacKay, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Mia Goth, Matthew Stagg
Jack and his siblings struggle to survive at the rundown Marrowbone farm. Despite the blow of their mother’s early death, the four brothers have created in this remote and labyrinthine spot a refuge suited to their needs, safe from the outside world and with no adult help whatsoever. They stay together, observing their mother’s last wish; but the danger closing in around them isn’t to be found outside the farm. Strange noises and occurrences start shaking Marrowbone’s old walls, as if haunted by an ancient curse. With no other option but to stay in the mansion, the four brothers will have to find a way to overcome the threatening ominous presence.
FERNANDO FRANCO (SPAIN)
Production: KOWALSKI FILMS, FERDYDURKE FILMS
Cast: Andrés Gertrúdix, Marian Álvarez
The lives of Luis and Marta are abruptly paralysed. Lies, guilt and fear put the couple’s stability and love to the test.
DONOSTIA AWARD SPECIAL SCREENING
LA CORDILLERA (THE SUMMIT)
SANTIAGO MITRE (ARGENTINA – SPAIN – FRANCE)
Production: KRAMER & SIGMAN FILMS, MOD PRODUCCIONES, MANEKI FILMS, LA UNIÓN DE LOS RÍOS
Cast: Ricardo Darín, Dolores Fonzi, Érica Rivas, Elena Anaya, Daniel Giménez-Cacho, Alfredo Castro, Gerardo Romano, Leonardo Franco, Paulina García, Christian Slater
At a Summit for Latin American presidents in Chile, where the region’s geopolitical strategies and alliances are in discussion, Argentine president Hernán Blanco endures a political and family drama that will force him to face his own demons. He will have to come to two decisions that could change the course of his public and private life forever: one regarding a complicated emotional situation with his daughter, and the other, the most important political decisión of his career.
ALBERTO GARCÍA-ALIX. LA LÍNEA DE SOMBRA (ALBERTO GARCÍA-ALIX. THE SHADOW LINE)
NICOLÁS COMBARRO (SPAIN)
Production: MORELLI PRODUCCIONES
Alberto García-Alix. La línea de sombra is the portrait of one of the most important photographers on the Spanish artistic scene, reference of an entire generation. A direct testimony of the lights and shadows through which Alberto García-Alix has had to make his way in order to find his path. Narrated from the intimacy of his studio, the film takes the shape of a voyage between the present and the past. A dialogue between his life and work.
MARIALY RIVAS (CHILE – SPAIN – ARGENTINA)
Production: FABULA, SETEMBRO CINE, SUDESTADA CINE
Cast: Sara Caballero, Marcelo Alonso, Maria Gracia Omegna
Films in Progress 28
In a far-off country at the end of the world Tamara, aged 12, lives under the wing of charismatic cult leader Miguel, a man she adores. That summer the girl will be given a mission: to have a holy child with him immediately she has her first period. Tamara realises that the life she wants for herself is not the same as the fate imposed on her. Her disobedience will lead to her violent development from child to woman, forcing her to gain her freedom in a way she had never imagined.
UNA MUJER FANTÁSTICA (A FANTASTIC WOMAN)
SEBASTIÁN LELIO (TXILE – GERMANY – SPAIN – USA)
Production: FABULA, KOMPLIZEN FILM, SETEMBRO CINE
Cast: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Paulina García, Néstor Cantillana, Alonso Torres, Cristián Chaparro, Senén Arancibia
OPENING FILM (IN COMPETITION)
Marina is a young waitress and wannabe singer; Orlando owns a printing company. Together they plan their future. When Orlando dies suddenly, Marina has to stand up to her family and society to show them what she truly is: a complex, strong, forthright and… fantastic woman. Teddy Award and Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the Berlinale 2017.
LA EDUCACIÓN DEL REY (REY’S EDUCATION)
SANTIAGO ESTEVES (ARGENTINA – SPAIN)
Production: 13 CONEJOS, NEPHILIM S.A.
Cast: Germán De Silva, Matías Encinas, Jorge Prado, Mario Jara, Martín Arrojo, Elena Schnell, Marcelo Lacerna, Esteban Lamothe
Bolting from his first ever heist, Reynaldo Galíndez, alias ‘Rey’, lands in the patio of the house inhabited by Carlos Vargas, a retired security guard. Vargas proposes a deal: the young boy will repair the damage to his home in return for not being handed over to the police. The lessons given to the teenager by the former guard develop into a relationship not unlike the old legends of educating a king (for the “Rey” of his name, meaning “king”). But the agreement will start to fall apart when the loose ends of the robbery Reynaldo had been involved in start closing in around them. Films in Progress Industry Award and CAACI / Ibermedia TV Films in Progress Award in 2016.
MUCHOS HIJOS, UN MONO Y UN CASTILLO (LOTS OF KIDS, A MONKEY AND A CASTLE.)
GUSTAVO SALMERÓN (SPAIN)
Production: GUSTAVO SALMERÓN P.C.
Cast: Julia Salmerón, Antonio García Cabanes, Gustavo Salmerón, Nacho Salmerón, Ramón García Salmerón, David García Salmerón, Paloma García Cabanes
This is the story about Julita, a matriarch whose three childhood wishes have been granted: lots of kids, a monkey, and a Spanish castle. At her 81 years old, one of her children needs to find the vertebra of his murdered great-grandmother, lost among the exorbitant amount of weird objects she has hoarded throughout her life, revealing a very picturesque family history. This unique old lady is about to find the meaning of life. Winner of the Award to the Best Documentary at Karlovy Vary.
KOLDO ALMANDOZ (SPAIN)
Production: TXINTXUA FILMS SL, MKM
Plague: From the Latin plague ‘blow’, ‘wound’. Meaning: Massive and sudden appearance of living beings of a same species which cause serious damage to animal or vegetable populations. Abundance of something harmful.
SAMUEL M. DELGADO, HELENA GIRÓN (SPAIN)
Production: EL VIAJE FILMS, FILMIKA GALAIKA
Cast: David Pantaleón, Rubén Rodríguez, María Isabel Díaz, Elena Navarro, Mercedes Pintado
Plus Ultra is Spain’s motto. It was used to encourage seafarers to conquer new lands, forgetting Greek mythology’s warning: Non Terrae Plus Ultra (No Land Beyond). The Canary Islands – test bench for the tactics used to colonise America – become the scene of a fable about the territory.
JUAN CAVESTANY, ÁLVARO FERNÁNDEZ ARMERO (SPAIN)
Production: MOVISTAR+, APACHE FILMS S.L.
Cast: Javier Gutiérrez, Malena Alterio, Vito Sanz
Jesús and Nuria have a problem: no matter what they do, they’re always the laughing stock of their family and friends, stupidly making a fool of themselves. He is a wedding and christening photographer, but believes he has a calling to show his true talent in ‘artistic’ photography. She believes that after her temporary crises she’ll start to have a more interesting life. Together they must decide whether being so pathetic is just a passing virus or if they actually have a chronic disease. Vergüenza is a ten chapter television series.
FÉLIX VISCARRET (SPAIN)
Production: IMVAL PRODUCCIONES, PANTALLA PARTIDA
Félix Viscarret is a young director. Carlos Saura is a living legend. United by the Cineastas Contados initiative tribute to the genius from Aragon, Viscarret devises a plan for his personal portrayal of the veteran filmmaker. It’s brilliant. It will show the most intimate Saura through conversations between the master and his 7 children. All accept. Saura isn’t fond of talking about the past. Viscarret insists. Saura likes painting. And photography.
FERNANDO LEÓN DE ARANOA (SPAIN – BULGARIA)
Production: ESCOBAR FILMS AIE, B2Y OOD LTD, JAVIER BARDEM
Cast: Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
Not in competition
The true story of the notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who killed thousands, made billions and struck up an unlikely love affair with his polar opposite, a glamorous television host named Virginia Vallejo.
FE DE ETARRAS
BORJA COBEAGA (SPAIN)
Production: NETFLIX, MEDIAPRO
Cast: Javier Cámara, Gorka Otxoa, Julian López, Miren Ibarguren, Ramón Barea
Fe de etarras is an unusual dark comedy set in the warm summer of 2010 in a Spanish provincial capital. A peculiar commando composed of a veteran desperate to prove he’s not a coward, a couple whose commitment depends on continuity of the outfit and a guy from La Mancha who thinks that joining the commando will turn him into Chuck Norris, hole up in a safe house while waiting for the call to tell them they can take action. Meanwhile, the Spanish football team notches up victories in the South Africa World Cup and the whole country is celebrating around them, causing enormous frustration among the farcical commando.
OPERACIÓN CONCHA (OPERATION GOLDEN SHELL)
ANTONIO CUADRI (SPAIN – MEXICO)
Production: ABRA PROD S.L., SPLINE PRODUCCIÓN AUDIOVISUAL S.A. DE CV (CARIBBEAN FIMS)
Cast: Jordi Mollà, Karra Elejalde, Unax Ugalde, Ramón Agirre, Bárbara Goenaga, Bárbara Mori, Mara Escalante, Alosian Vivancos
Unscrupulous businessman Marcos Ruiz de Aldazábal (Karra Elejalde) is the head of a film production company gone bust. Desperate and penniless, Marcos and his team come up with a plan to hoodwink a millionnaire investment company with a lookalike of prestigious actor Ray Silvela (Jordi Mollà), who has declined the offer to work on their film. Making the most of the San Sebastian Festival context, they set about contriving a massive hoax where nothing is what it seems to be.
TVE SPECIAL SCREENING
LA LLAMADA (HOLY CAMP)
JAVIER CALVO, JAVIER AMBROSSI (SPAIN)
Production: APACHE FILMS, LO HACEMOS Y YA VEMOS AIE, SÁBADO PELÍCULAS
Cast: Macarena García, Anna Castillo, Belén Cuesta, Gracia Olayo
Segovia. A Christian Summer camp, called ‘The Compass’. Bernarda, a nun who has just got there, wants to save the camp with her song Viviremos firmes en la fe. Sister Milagros, a young woman who doubts, remembers she liked Presuntos Implicados very much. María and Susana, two adolescents who are there as a punishment, have a band called Suma Latina. But since God appeared to María, everything is changing. And that’s because God loves Whitney Houston.
INTERNATIONAL FILM STUDENTS MEETING
L’HOME LLOP (THE WOLFMAN)
LLUÍS SELLARÈS (SPAIN)
Cast: Nico Roig, Mar del Hoyo
Nico is half of the couple who stays at home while Mar is working, looking out the window the vastness of the forest and seeking for new ways to procrastinate.