The latest films by Claire Denis, Simon Jaquemet, Kim Jee-woon, Naomi Kawase, Benjamín Naishtat, Valeria Sarmiento and Markus Schleinzer are the first films confirmed to be competing for the Golden Shell at the 66th San Sebastián Film Festival.
Claire Denis (Paris, 1946), the director of Beau travail or White Material, will be competing for the first time for the Golden Shell with High Life. In this science-fiction film, Denis is working once again with Juliette Binoche, after Un beau soleil intérieur (Let the Sun Shine In) -which won the SACD Award in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes ex aequo last year with Philippe Garrel- and Robert Pattinson.
For Naomi Kawase (Nara, Japan, 1969) this will be her second time in the Official Section, after she presented Genpin, which won the Fipresci Award, in 2010. Now, after taking part in Un Certain Regard and in the Official Competition at Cannes with her last two films, An / Sweet Bean and Hikari / Radiance, respectively, she will be coming to San Sebastián with Vision, shot in her native province. The film also stars the French actress Juliette Binoche and the Japanese actor, Masatoshi Nagase (An, Hikari, Paterson).
Kim Jee-woon (Seúl, 1964) will also be competing for the Golden Shell for the second time. After presenting Ang-ma-reul bo-at-da / I Saw the Devil in San Sebastián in 2010, the South Korean director will be taking part withIllang: The Wolf Brigade, the Korean remake of Jin-Roh, the anime written by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) about the Keberos Panzer Cops, a violent police force.
This is also the second time that Valeria Sarmiento (Valparaíso, Chile, 1948) will be competing as a director in the Official Section, after presenting Elle more than two decades ago, in 1995. But Sarmiento’s links to the Festival go back to a previous decade, at the beginning of her career, when she won the Grand Prix Donostia for Best New Director in 1984 with Notre mariage, her first fictional feature film. The last time that she took part in the Festival was in Zabaltegi, where her film As Linhas de Torres / Lines of Wellington was programmed in 2012. The French/Portuguese coproduction Le cahier noir / The Black Book is inspired by the novel Livro Negro de Padre Dinis, by Camilo Castelo Branco, who also wrote Mistérios de Lisboa, which was edited by Sarmiento and which won Raúl Ruiz the Silver Shell for best director in San Sebastián (2010). El Livro Negro de Padre Dinis can be considered to be a prequel of the character that also appears in Mistérios de Lisboa.
Rojo is the third feature by Benjamín Naishtat (Buenos Aires, 1986), whose debut film, Historia del miedo (History of Fear), was one of the films chosen in Films in Progress 24, competed in Berlin in 2014 and was also screened in Horizontes Latinos. With his second film, El movimiento (The Movement, 2015), he formed part of the official section in Locarno. Rojo, with a cast including Darío Grandinetti, Andrea Frigerio and Alfredo Castro, is set in Argentina in the 1970s, on the eve of the military dictatorship.
Markus Schleinzer (Vienna, 1971), who competed in the official section at Cannes with his debut film, Michael, will be presenting his second feature film, Angelo, in San Sebastián. Schleinzer, who wrote together with the director, Michael Sturminger, the screenplay for Casanova Variations, which competed for the Golden Shell in 2014, now focuses on the story of an African who is Europeanised by force in a story starring Makita Samba, Alba Rohrwacher and Larisa Faber.
In 2014 Simon Jaquemet (Zurich, 1978) premiered his award-winning first film, Chrieg / War, in the New Directors section at the Festival. With his second film, Der unschuldige / The Innocent, he is back in San Sebastián in the Official Section, with the portrait of a woman trapped by her past in a religious community.
The other films that make up the Official Section will be announced in the next few weeks.
MARKUS SCHLEINZER (AUSTRIA – LUXEMBOURG)
Cast: Makita Samba, Alba Rohrwacher, Larisa Faber
The story of Angelo, an African born in the 18th century, who is brought to Europe at the age of 10. Becoming a servant at the court of enlightened nobility, he is able to use his otherness to be an appreciated guest and attraction for the members of high society. Being close to the emperor he decides to marry Magdalena, a young maidservant, with whom he falls in love. Doing so, Angelo inevitably suffers from the rejection from the court. On the height of his prestige, he has to realize, that his otherness will never be erased. He will never know a normal life, and he will always remain an outsider. Based on true events.
DER UNSCHULDIGE / THE INNOCENT
SIMON JAQUEMET (SWITZERLAND – GERMANY)
Cast: Judith Hofman, Christian Kaiser, Thomas Schüpbach, Urs-Peter Wolters
Ruth works in a neuroscience research lab, as much as she’s part of an extreme traditionalist and conservative Christian family. She suddenly finds herself facing her own past when her former lover reemerges after disappearing twenty years in jail, putting into question her feelings, her life and soon her faith.
CLAIRE DENIS (FRANCE – GERMANY – UK – POLAND – USA)
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, Mia Goth
Deep space. Beyond our solar system. Monte and his infant daughter Willow live together aboard a spacecraft, in complete isolation. A solitary man, whose strict self-discipline is a protection against desire –his own and that of others– Monte fathered the girl against his will. His sperm was used to inseminate Boyse, the young woman who gave birth to her. They were members of a crew of prisoners: space convicts, death row inmates. Guinea pigs sent on a mission to the black hole closest to Earth. Now only Monte and Willow remain. And Monte is changed. Through his daughter, for the first time, he experiences the birth of an all-powerful love. Willow grows, becoming a young girl, then a young woman.
ILLANG: THE WOLF BRIGADE
KIM JEE-WOON (SOUTH KOREA)
Cast: GANG Dong-won, HAN Hyo-Joo, JUNG Woo-sung, KIM Mu-Yeol, HAN Ye-ri, CHOI Min-ho, HEO Joon-ho
In 2029, after the governments of North and South Korea announce a 5-year plan to reunify the country, strong sanctions by the world’s powerful nations cripple the economy and lead to a hellish period of chaos. With the appearance of an armed anti-government terrorist group called The Sect which opposes reunification, the President creates a new police division called the Special Unit which amasses significant political power. However the intelligence service Public Security, which sees its own influence drop, hatches a plot to annihilate the Special Unit. Amidst this bloody struggle between two ultra-powerful institutions, rumors emerge of a secret ‘Wolf Brigade’ being formed within the Special Unit. The human weapons who are called wolves, ‘Illang’ (The Wolf Brigade).
LE CAHIER NOIR / THE BLACK BOOK
VALERIA SARMIENTO (FRANCE – PORTUGAL)
Cast: Lou de Laâge, Stanislas Merhar, Niels Schneider, Jenna Thiam, Fleur Fitoussi, David Caracol, Vasco Varela da Silva, Tiago Varela da Silva
The story of the adventures, in the twilight of the eighteenth century, of a singular couple formed by a little orphan with mysterious origins and his young Italian nurse of a similarly uncertain birth. They lead us in their wake, from Rome to Paris, from Lisbon to London, from Parma to Venice. Always followed in the shadows, for obscure reasons, by a suspicious-looking Calabrian and a troubling cardinal, they make us explore the dark intrigues of the Vatican, the pangs of a fatal passion, a gruesome duel, banter at the court of Versailles and the convulsions of the French Revolution.
BENJAMIN NAISHTAT (ARGENTINA – FRANCE – NETHERLANDS – BRAZIL – FRANCE)
Cast: Dario Grandinetti, Andrea Frigerio, Alfredo Castro
In the mid-1970s a stranger arrives in a quiet provincial town. At a restaurant, for no apparent reason he starts to assault Claudio, a well-known lawyer. The community supports the lawyer and the stranger is humiliated and gets thrown out. Later on the way home, Claudio and his wife Susana are intercepted by the stranger who is determined to take terrible revenge on him. The lawyer then starts out on a road of no-return, of death, secrets and silences.
NAOMI KAWASE (JAPAN – FRANCE)
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Masatoshi Nagase
Jeanne, a French journalist, comes to Japan in search of ‘Vision’, a rare medicinal herb said to strip away all spiritual anguish and weaknesses in human beings. She knows that ‘Vision’ only appears once every 997 years under special conditions and that time is near. Aki, a wise villager who knows the forest well, prophesies the arrival of the mysterious ‘One’ and then disappears. Tomo, who was devoted to Aki, works as a keeper of the forests and is beginning to sense, instinctively, recent changes in the mountains. Is there a connection between the disappearance of Aki and the changes taking place in the forest? Will Jeanne succeed in finding the phantom herb Vision? A millennial event is taking place in the Yoshino mountains of Nara, opening a door to the One and the true potential of human existence.