L’homme fidèle / A Faithful Man (Louis Garrel), Baby (Liu Jie), Alpha, the Right to Kill (Brillante Mendoza), In Fabric (Peter Strickland), Beautiful Boy (Felix Van Groeningen) and Blind Spot (Tuva Novotny) will compete for the Golden Shell at the 66th San Sebastian Film Festival. These six films join the latest works from Icíar Bollaín, Claire Denis, Simon Jaquemet, Kim Jee-woon, Naomi Kawase, Isaki Lacuesta, Benjamín Naishtat, Valeria Sarmiento, Rodrigo Sorogoyen, Markus Schleinzer, Juan Vera and Carlos Vermut in the running for the Festival’s official awards.
The French actor and director Louis Garrel (Paris, 1983) will present his second feature as a moviemaker after Les deux amis / Two friends (2015), selected for the Semaine de la Critique at Cannes. Garrel, who has worked as an actor with Bertolucci, Bonello, Hazanavicius and Honoré, stars in L’homme fidèle alongside Laetitia Casta and Lily-Rose Depp.
Liu Jie (Tianjin, China, 1968), winner of the Orizzonti Award in Venice for his first film, Mabei shang de fating / Courthouse on Horseback, addresses in Bao bei er / Baby the tale of an 19 year-old girl determined to save a sick girl in the context of the birth control imposed by the Chinese Government.
After competing in Cannes, Berlin and Venice, Brillante Mendoza (San Fernando, Philippines, 1960) will do so for the first time in San Sebastian with Alpha: The Right to Kill, set against the backdrop of the Philippine Government’s crackdown on drugs. Last year, Mendoza’s production Pailalim / Underground, Daniel Palacio’s debut, competed in New Directors.
The Swedish actress Tuva Novotny (Stockholm, 1979), who recently starred in Annihilation (2018) and Borg / McEnroe (Pearls 2017), makes her directorial debut with Blind Spot, looking at the blind spots of the mind through the relationship between a mother and daughter.
Peter Strickland (Reading, UK, 1973) has become a cult author with only three movies: Katalin Varga (2009), which competed in Berlin and was recognised with the European Discovery of the Year award, Berberian Sound Studio (2012), a competitor in Locarno, and The Duke of Burgundy (2014). His fourth feature film, In Fabric, follows the trail of a cursed dress.
Beautiful Boy is the first film shot in English by Felix Van Groeningen (Ghent, Belgium, 1977), who presented De helaasheid der dingen / The Misfortunates (2009) at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs and Alabama Monroe (2013) in the Panorama section of the Berlinale, where he won the Audience Award. The film was also nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Beautiful Boy, based on the true story of a father’s struggle to rescue his son from drugs, stars Steve Carell and Timothée Chamalet and is produced by the winners of the Academy Award for Moonlight and 12 Years a Slave (Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner).
Now, a month before the Festival, we have already announced the eighteen competing films, as well as those to participate out of competition (Gigantes) or as special screenings (Tiempo después and Dantza). The closing film will be announced in the coming weeks.
ALPHA, THE RIGHT TO KILL
BRILLANTE MENDOZA (PHILIPPINES)
Cast: Allen Dizon, Elijah Filamor, Baron Geisler
Set against the background of the government’s crackdown on illegal drugs, the SWAT-led police force launches an operation to arrest Abel, a major methamphetamine distributor, with PO3 Moises Espino and his informant Elijah providing the intelligence. A violent battle breaks out in the slums between the SWAT and Abel’s gang. Abel flees the scene with his bag full of money and methamphetamines. The SWAT kills him, but before the investigators arrive at the crime scene, Espino makes off Abel’s bag.
BAO BEI ER / BABY
LIU JIE (CHINA)
Cast: Yang Mi, Guo Jingfei, Lee Hong-Chi, Wang Yanjun, Zhu Shaojun, Yan Surong
Born 19 years ago in Nanjing with the VACTERL syndrome, Jiang Meng was abandoned by her parents. With the help of her foster mother and Director Wang, today Jiang works in a hospital as cleaner. One day, Jiang encounters a man coming into the hospital with a newborn baby. She learns that the baby is a girl who also has the VACTERL syndrome, and that the father has decided not to care for her.
FELIX VAN GROENINGEN (USA)
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Steve Carell, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan
Based on the bestselling pair of memoirs by father and son David and Nic Sheff, Felix van Groeningen’s film chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.
TUVA NOVOTNY (NORWAY)
Cast: Pia Tjelta, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Oddgeir Thune, Per Frisch, Marianne Krogh
Blind Spot centres on a mother as she struggles to understand her teenage daughter’s crisis, when tragedy strikes the whole family.
PETER STRICKLAND (UK)
Cast: Gwendoline Christie, Hayley Squires, Marianne Jean-Baptiste
In Fabric is set against the backdrop of a busy winter sales period in a department store and follows the life of a cursed dress as it passes from person to person, with devastating consequences.
L’HOMME FIDÈLE / A FAITHFUL MAN
LOUIS GARREL (FRANCE)
Cast: Louis Garrel, Laetitia Casta, Lily-Rose Depp
Marianne leaves Abel for Paul, his best friend and the father of her unborn child. Eight years later, Paul dies. Abel and Marianne get back together, arousing feelings of jealousy in both Marianne’s son, Joseph, and Paul’s sister, Eva, who has secretly loved Abel since childhood.