The world premiere of The Charmer (Charmøren) by Iranian director Milad Alami, will open the New Directors section of the San Sebastian International Film Festival. The Charmer, his first feature, stars a young Iranian desperately trying to meet women who can secure his stay in Denmark.
Other films added to the lineup include Daniel Kokotajlo (Manchester, UK), first feature film, Apostasy that follows a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses; and Village Rockstars, the second feature from Rima Das (Assam, India) starring a 10 year-old girl desperate to own a guitar.
These three films join the list of thirteen films already announced from Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Chile, China, France, the Philippines, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan, and will compete for the New Directors-Kutxabank Award. The films in this section are also candidates for the EROSKI Youth Award, voted by a jury of a maximum of 300 students between the ages of 18 and 25 years.
CHARMØREN / THE CHARMER
MILAD ALAMI (DENMARK)
Cast: Ardalan Esmaili, Soho Rezanejad, Susan Taslimi, Lars Brygmann
OPENING NIGHT FILM
Charmøren / The Charmer is an intense psychological drama about Esmail, a young Iranian man who is desperately trying to meet women who can secure his stay in Denmark. As time runs out, he falls in love and his past catches up with him. The film deals with themes of race, class, and the struggle for a better life.
DANIEL KOKOTAJLO (UK)
Cast: Siobhan Finneran, Molly Wright, Sacha Parkinson, Robert Emms
As devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, sisters Alex and Luisa and their mother, Ivanna, are united in The Truth. Alex looks up to her confident older sister, while striving to follow in Ivanna’s footsteps as a ‘good Witness’. But when Luisa starts to question the advice of the Elders, she makes a life-altering transgression that threatens to expel her from the congregation. Unless Ivanna and Alex can persuade her to return, they must shun her completely. This challenge becomes more painful when their family is faced with another heartbreaking test of faith. Written and directed by Daniel Kokotajlo, a former Jehovah’s Witness, Apostasy provides rare insight into the complex nature of faith, family, duty and love.
RIMA DAS (INDIA)
Cast: Bhanita Das, Basanti Das
Ten year-old Dhunu lives in a remote village in Assam, India, amidst raging deprivation. She is a free spirit, while her widowed mother struggles daily to put food on the table and raise her children. But this doesn’t prevent her from having dreams, like owning a guitar for the tiny band she wants to put together with some local boys, the ‘Village Rockstars’. Dhunu considers herself to be as capable as boys her age. When the boys eventually relinquish their dream, Dhunu refuses to give up on her ambition to own a guitar.