Ten new films including the latest by Damien Chazelle, Alfonso Cuarón, and Spike Lee will compete for the City of Donostia / San Sebastian Audience Award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. A Star Is Born, the directorial debut of Bradley Cooper will bring the section to a close.
Jacques Audiard (Paris, 1962), the author of Un prophète / A Prophet (2009), Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, will present The Sisters Brothers, to have its premiere at the Venice Festival. This western based on the novel of the same name by Patrick deWitt stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly, who is also involved in its production.
The latest film from the winner of last year’s Academy Award for Best Director, Damien Chazelle (Providence, USA, 1985), once again directs Ryan Gosling in First Man as Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to walk on the Moon. The film by the creator of La La Land, in which Claire Foy (The Crown) also has a part, will open the Venice Festival.
Alfonso Cuarón (Mexico City, 1968) competed in the Official Selection at San Sebastian with his second film, A Little Princess (1995). Since then, he has won a Best Director Academy Award for Gravity, while his films Y tu mamá también (And Your Mother Too) and Children of Men have enjoyed widespread international success. With Roma, to have its premiere in Venice, he portrays the life of a maid working in a middle-class district of Mexico City in the early 70s.
In this new take on the iconic love story, A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper (Philadelphia, USA, 1975) makes his directorial debut and portrays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers and falls in love with struggling artist Ally, played by Lady Gaga. Ally has given up on her dream to become a successful singer until she meets Jack, who immediately sees her raw talent. This intimate story takes us on a journey through the beauty and challenges of a relationship struggling to survive. After its premiere in Venice, A Star Is Born will bring Perak to a close in San Sebastian.
Lukas Dhont (Belgium, 1991) will also present his first feature in San Sebastian, Girl, winner of the Caméra d’Or for Best First Film in Cannes and Fipresci Prize in Un Certain Regard. Dhont tells the story of a young girl born as a boy and who dreamt of becoming a ballerina.
Ciro Guerra (Río de Oro, Colombia, 1981) shares the helm of Pájaros de verano (Birds of Passage) with Cristina Gallego (Bogotá, 1978), producer of his earlier films. Guerra started his career in Films in Progress, where he won a prize in 2003 for his first work, La sombra del caminante. His third film, El abrazo de la serpiente (Embrace of the Serpent) screened in Horizontes Latinos, was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. In Pájaros de verano, which premiered at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, he uses a true story to explain the origins of drug trafficking in Colombia.
The first animated film to compete in San Sebastian’s Official Selection was Bakemono no ko / The Boy and the Beast (2015), by Mamoru Hosoda (Nakaniikawa, Japan, 1967). The author of Toki wo kakeru shojo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, 2006) and Okami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (Wolf Children, 2012) now presents in San Sebastian Mirai, which premiered at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.
The participations of Nadine Labaki (Beirut, 1974) in San Sebastian are counted in awards. In 2007, with her directorial debut Sukkar banat / Caramel, she landed the Audience and Youth Awards, and in 2011, with her second film, Et maintenant on va où? / Where Do We Go Now?, she earned the spectators’ vote as Best European Film. With Capharnaüm, winner of the Jury Prize in Cannes, she once again competes for the City of Donostia / San Sebastian Audience Award.
Although his films have been programmed in different retrospectives –When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts in .doc – New paths of non-fiction and Summer of Sam in American Way of Death: American Film Noir 1990-2010– and the collective film Ten Minutes Older – The Trumpet screened as part of the Zabaltegi-Specials selection, this is the first time that Spike Lee (Atlanta, USA, 1957) will have competed for an award in San Sebastian. The author of Malcolm X, winner of honorary Academy and César awards, will compete for the Audience Award with BlacKkKlansman, a dramatic comedy about an Afro-American policeman who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan, winner of the Jury Grand Prix at Cannes and the Audience Award at Locarno.
Jia Zhangke (Fenyang, China, 1970), however, has enjoyed wide presence at the Festival in recent years. In 2013 he won the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes for Tian zhu ding / A Touch of Sin (2013), screened as part of Perlak, the same section which saw the selection in 2015 of Shan he gu ren (Mountains May Depart), winner of the Audience Award for Best European Production. His short film The Hedonists was screened in Zabaltegi-Tabakalera in 2016, the same year as he sat on the official jury presided by Bille August, which gave the Golden Shell to Wo bu shi pan jinlian / I Am Not Madame Bovary by Xiaogang Feng. Now he will endeavour to win the spectators’ award for a second time with Ash is Purest White, a film selected for the Cannes official competition, in which he describes the changes transforming his country through a violent love story.
These films join those already announced in Perlak: El ángel (Luis Ortega), Petra (Jaime Rosales), Leto / Summer (Kirill Serebrennikov), Zimna wojna / Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski), Un día más con vida / Another Day of Life (Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow), Netemo Sametemo / Asako I & II (Ryusuke Hamaguchi) and 3 Rokh / Three Faces (Jafar Panahi).
A STAR IS BORN
BRADLEY COOPER (USA)
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, Sam Elliott
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
Not in competition
In this new take on the tragic love story, a seasoned musician discovers—and falls in love with— a struggling artist. She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer… until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.
ASH IS PUREST WHITE
JIA ZHANGKE (CHINA – FRANCE – JAPAN)
Cast: Zhao Tao, Liao Fan
Qiao is in love with Bin, a local mobster. During a fight between rival gangs, she fires a gun to protect him. Qiao gets five years in prison for this act of loyalty. Upon her release, she goes looking for Bin to pick up where they left off. A story of love, betrayal and loyalty set in China’s underworld.
SPIKE LEE (USA)
Cast: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Laura Harrier
Spike Lee helms the true story of the first Afro-American cop to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan at its highest levels in the ‘60s, with the help of a colleague who passed himself off as a radical racist.
NADINE LABAKI (LEBANON)
Cast: Zain Al Rafeea, Yordanos Shiferaw, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole, Kawthar Al Haddad, Fadi Kamel Youssef, Cedra Izam, Alaa Chouchnieh, Nadine Labaki
Zain, a 12 year-old boy, faces the judge.
Judge: Why are you suing your own parents?
Zain: For giving me life.
DAMIEN CHAZELLE (USA)
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke
The film tells the story of the most dangerous mission in the history of Humanity to date. A tale of how NASA sent Neil Armstrong to the Moon and the sacrifices and the cost it represented for many.
LUKAS DHONT (BELGIUM – NETHERLANDS)
Cast: Victor Polster, Arieh Worthalter, Katelijne Damen, Valentijn Dhaenens
Lara, aged 15, dreams of becoming a ballerina. With her father’s help, she pushes herself to the limit in the interminable endeavour. But her body doesn’t lend itself easily to the discipline imposed upon it, because in fact she was born a boy.
MAMORU HOSODA (JAPAN)
A spoiled and pampered little 4 year-old who finds himself being ignored on the birth of his little sister Mirai. Kun struggles to cope with the new situations thrown at him in his home. But suddenly the teenage version of his sister travels back in time from the future to share with Kun an extraordinary adventure of unimaginable proportions.
PÁJAROS DE VERANO
CIRO GUERRA, CRISTINA GALLEGO (COLOMBIA)
Cast: Carmiña Martínez, Jose Acosta, Natalia Reyes, Jhon Narváez, José Vicente Cote, Juan Bautista Martínez, Greider Meza
Based on a true story explaining the origin of drug trafficking in Colombia, the film takes place in the ‘70s when North American youths are embracing the hippie culture and, with it, marijuana. The upshot is that the local farmers almost instantly morph into “entrepreneurs”. In the Guajira desert, a Wayuu Native American family finds itself forced to assume a role of leadership in this new enterprise. Wealth and power combine with a war between brothers which will seriously endanger their family, their lives and their ancestral traditions.
ALFONSO CUARÓN (MEXICO)
Cast: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira
The most personal project to date from Academy Award®-winning director and writer Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity, Children of Men, Y Tu Mamá Tambien), Roma follows Cleo, a young domestic worker for a family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City. Delivering an artful love letter to the women who raised him, Cuarón draws on his own childhood to create a vivid and emotional portrait of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil of the 1970s.
THE SISTERS BROTHERS
JACQUES AUDIARD (FRANCE – BELGIUM – ROMANIA – SPAIN)
Cast: John C. Reily, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed
Charlie and Eli Sisters live in a wild and hostile world. They have blood on their hands: the blood of criminals and innocent people alike… They have no scruples about killing. It’s their job. Charlie, the younger brother, was born to kill. Eli, however, dreams of living a normal life. They are hired by the Commodore to find and kill a man. From Oregon to California, a ruthless hunt begins, an initiatory journey that will test this insane bond between the two brothers. A path that leads to their humanity?