Filmmakers from Germany, Argentina, Spain, and Russia will develop their audiovisual projects within the framework of the Ikusmira Berriak program, which is celebrating its fourth edition this year.
The selection committee, which is comprised of members from the Tabakalera International Centre for Contemporary Culture, the San Sebastian Film Festival and, for the first time, Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola, has selected the following projects out of the 155 offerings received from 31 countries: in the international category, El oasis, by Argentine filmmaker Manuel Abramovich (Buenos Aires, 1987) and Dormen os peixes de olhos abertos, by Nele Wohlatz (Hannover, Germany, 1982); in the Spanish filmmaker category, El agua, by Elena López Riera (Orihuela, Spain, 1982); among filmmakers residing in the Basque Autonomous Community, 918 gau, by Arantza Santesteban (Pamplona, Spain, 1979); and among Nest alumni (International Film Students Meeting), Chupacabra, by Grigory Kolomytsev (Krasnodar, Russia, 1990).
Projects on daily life in prison, the porn industry, legends, childhood, and alienation inspire the five chosen offerings. The fifth project was chosen thanks to Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola’s partnership in the audiovisual residency program organised by the Tabakalera International Centre for Contemporary Culture and the San Sebastian Film Festival.
Several of the filmmakers chosen have enjoyed considerable success at international festivals. Abramovich has premiered his films in Berlin and Karlovy Vary, where he received a special mention, and last year Soldado, his latest film, was shown at Zabaltegi-Tabakalera; López Riera has presented two of her productions at the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes and Locarno; and Nele Wohlatz won the award for Best First Feature in Locarno and Zinebi with El Futuro Perfecto. Kolomytsev was selected two years in a row (2016 and 2017) at Nest, and the Arantza Santesteban’s latest work, co-directed with Irati Gorostidi, was shown at the last Festival in the Zinemira selection, at the Kimuak catalogue sessions for professionals.
ARANTZA SANTESTEBAN (SPAIN)
In the minuscule cell of a police van, a woman that has spent many years in prison told me: to be able to explain what prison is like, you need to have slept in one. Nearly a decade ago, I spent 918 nights in prison. This film is about what it means to live in an isolated world without images.
A history graduate of the University of the Basque Country. She holds a degree in Creative Documentary from the Centre de Dones Francesca Bonemaison (2012, Barcelona). Likewise, she has trained in Documentary Film Writing with Carmen Ávalos (2013, Barcelona). She has carried out specific training with Víctor Erice (2015, San Sebastian) and Patricio Guzmán (2016, Madrid). In 2012, she began to work as a director in various documentaries, including the noteworthy Passatgeres, her first work. Together with others, she curated the GORPUTZ_GRAFIAK exhibition at the Koldo Mitxelena cultural centre (San Sebastian) in 2015. This work brings together genealogy and research work from the Basque Country’s feminist movement. Together with Irati Gorostidi, she directed Euritan in 2017, which was selected in the 2017 Kimuak catalogue. She has made the rounds at festivals such as San Sebastian, Punto de Vista, Miradas Doc, and the Malaga Film Festival. In 2017, she was selected by the Huarte Centre of Contemporary Art to carry out a curatorial research residency, through which she will curate the Imágenes a través: reflexiones sobre imágenes en conflictos (‘Traversing images: reflections on images in conflict’) international seminar in June of 2018. She is a researcher of the Communication, culture, society, and politics master’s program (UNED-Spain), and studies questions that relate to cinematographic representation, feminism, and contemporary political conflicts.
There are numerous cinematographic narratives about prison, however, in my opinion, they are always missing something. What these images reflect are not daily conditions in prison, but ways in which the popular consciousness about them works. Cells, yards, fences, organised crime, terrorism, and drugs… These are elements that are a part of our prior characterisations. However, it is practically impossible to represent questions that are fundamental to understanding daily life in prison: the passing of time, isolation from the outside world, the physical and psychological consequences of confinement, opaque spaces of domination, etc. This film will address those topics.
GRIGORY KOLOMYTSEV (RUSSIA)
Nine years old Andrey lives on the outskirt of a small village near the White Sea. Nervous, tired of poverty and fatherlessness mother keeps Andrey in constant tension and beats him. She threatens to send his son to the orphanage at the slightest misconduct from his side. Once Andrey finds a dead dog on the seashore in a storm – he decides that it is a mystical beast “Chupacabra”, a goat vampire, which will save his mother from ills and help them to reunite. Andrey heard on TV that whom Chupacabra bites at the full moon will become Chupacabra himself. Andrey scratches his hand the dead fang.
Grigory Kolomytsev (1990, Russia) graduated from the Russian State University of Cinematography (VGIK) in 2017 (workshop of the Kott brothers). His debut short film Three Sisters (2015) was Semifinalist of the 43d Student Academy Awards. His next short work Mary was shown at more then 60 festivals including San Sebastian, Cairo, Camerimage, ZINEBI, etc. In 2017 he shooted his diploma film I’m Staying on the Black sea shore where he spent his childhood. It was shown at San Sebastian, Premiers Plans – Festival D’Angers, Winterthur etc. Chupacabra will be his debut feature film.
For me it is very important to make a debut picture about childhood – the necessary distance has already been passed, but feelings and memories are still hot. I was born near the sea. There was my first death experence. Sound of waves and wind is the sound of my childhood, tears of mother is my main humane feeling. Andrey, this small autistic boy, sincerely believes that there is no death, that he can find love by sacrificing himself. This is a film about the ordeal of a little Holy child. It is a “Life of Saint Andrey”.
DORMEN OS PEIXES DE OLHOS ABERTOS
NELE WOHLATZ (GERMANY)
Three outsiders in a tropical city, passing through places that could be anywhere. A condominium tower with white, empty rooms, made in China bric-a-brac stores, a shark-infested beach, the sea. Lixue, Ah, and Bo live in a reality that sometimes seems like fiction and, perhaps, a prediction of the future for the world’s cities. Three verses in an incomplete song, but who is speaking through whom? The alienation of the tree, who are so different, yet so similar.
Nele Wohlatz (1982, Hannover) studied art and film in Karlsruhe and Buenos Aires. She created the short films La mochila perfecta and Tres oraciones sobre la Argentina, and co-directed Ricardo Bär. The first full-length film she directed on her own was El futuro perfecto, which was shown at more than 60 international festivals and won numerous awards, including such as the Best First Feature award at Locarno.
Recife is a city with a great deal of history, yet it seems that urban development is focused on erasing its mark and replacing it with the feeling of an airport: generic towers with private security surrounded by high walls, shopping centres, and urban highways that connect these locations. I want to make a film could take place anywhere, because it is about people that came for different reasons, but do not belong in their new city. After my first visit to Recife I thought, why not here? Behind its anonymous face, the city is full of ruptures, warmth, and peculiarities.
ELENA LÓPEZ RIERA (SPAIN)
It is summertime, and the threat of a powerful storm hangs over a town in the Spanish Levant. Ana is 17 years old and has grown up in the shadows of her mother who disappeared in the last flood, becoming phantasmagorical legend, a character for the townswomen who say that the water there is always mixed with death. In this electric atmosphere before the storm, Ana meets Jose, her first love.
Elena López holds a doctorate in Audiovisual Communication and is a filmmaker. She has directed Pueblo (2015), which debuted at the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes, and Las vísceras (2016), which premiered at the Locarno Festival. She is a member of the Lacasinegra collective, through which she co-directed Pas à Genève. She has also worked as a producer for the Seville, Belfort, and Visions du Réel festivals.
I was born in Orihuela, a town in the Spanish Levant divided by the Segura, one of Europe’s most polluted rivers. I grew up with my mother, my grandmother, and my aunts, surrounded by women that used to tell all kinds of stories to take the ease off the long afternoons of asphyxiating heat. These stories almost always had a true origin (based on events, secrets whispered between neighbours, or family stories), but changed with each new version until some of them became truly fantastic tales. This is surely why I decided, one day, to make films. It was my way of participating in this popular, collective tale that does not distinguish between history and poetry.
MANUEL ABRAMOVICH (ARGENTINA)
“Why do you want to do porn?” they ask at the casting. “Because I love to feign pleasure”.
How does pleasure itself become a performance?
If an adult film actor transforms their sexuality into a show, where do they find true pleasure?
Manuel Abramovich (Buenos Aires, 1987) is a director, producer, and directory of photography.
His work challenges the limits between reality and fiction, and reflects on the concept of an author in so-called ‘documentary filmmaking’. He has directed La Reina (2013), Las Luces (2014), Solar (2016), Soldado (2017), and Años Luz (2017). His works have received numerous awards, and have been shown at festivals and artistic institutions such as the Berlinale, Venice, San Sebastian, MoMA, Cinéma du Réel, IDFA, Tribeca, Tabakalera, Film Society of Lincoln Center, BAFICI, and Documenta Madrid.
He was selected for various grants and residencies, including the Fondo Nacional de las Artes (Buenos Aires), Tres Puertos (Mexico and Chile), EMARE (Germany), and others.
Currently, he is developing a trilogy focused on sex work and pornography in three cities: Berlin, Mexico City, and Buenos Aires.
Años Luz, 2017, Argentina/Spain/Brazil, 72′.
Soldado, 2017, Argentina, 73′.
Solar, 2016, Argentina, 75′.
Las Luces, 2014, Argentina, 6′.
La Reina, 2013, Argentina, 19′.
El Oasis is a film on the construction of intimacy as a show.
This is also the second piece of a trilogy that I am producing on the male body used as a business, focused on pornography and sex work in three cities (Berlin, Mexico City, and Buenos Aires).
I am interested in the porn industry as a context to talk about sex in a world where the self is constructed by others, where we must be connected to exist and be seen. How does the body itself become a performance? How does pleasure act?
The five filmmakers will enjoy a residency of six weeks in San Sebastian from 20 August. In the first four, the filmmakers will develop their projects at Tabakalera’s Creator’s Space, and will receive master classes and guidance from members of this edition’s expert committee, which includes Irish producer Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, Brazilian filmmaker Sergio Oksman and TorinoFilmLab director, Savina Neirotti, who have guided the judges panel in their selection.
In the fifth week of the residency, the participants will prepare the pitching session, which involves a project presentation to the industry during the sixth and final week of the residency. The session is part of the San Sebastian Film Festival. The residents will have the opportunity to arrange meetings with attending professionals who are interested in collaborating in their projects, and will receive an access pass to screenings and the Festival’s other industry activities.
Ikusmira Berriak will also provide financial support amounting to 25,000 euros, which will be distributed among the projects selected. In addition, REC Grabaketa Estudioa will offer its feature film post-production services as a prize, which is valued at 35,000 euros.
Ikusmira Berriak is a program that seeks to involve new talent as well as producers and people from the audiovisual industry who support innovation and new languages. It is organised by Tabakalera, the San Sebastian Film Festival and Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola in collaboration with REC Grabaketa Estudioa and the Basque Film Archive, and is part of the San Sebastian 2016 European Capital of Culture legacy.