Three of the most important European directors on the contemporary panorama, the debut film by a well-known Portuguese actor, the second movie by a Brazilian filmmaker produced by Darren Aronofsky and the latest work from one of today’s most interesting Tibetan filmmakers join the list of films in competition for the Golden Shell at the San Sebastian Festival’s 67th edition.
The debut film by Sarah Gavron (United Kingdom, 1970), Brick Lane, screened as part of the New Directors selection in 2007. After co-directing the non-fiction film Village at the End of the World (2012), she directed the prize-winning Suffragette (2015). In Rocks, written by Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson, from a story by Ikoko, an adolescent is afraid that she and her younger brother will be separated from one another if the authorities find out that they live alone.
Having competed in Locarno with his first film (Dbus lam gyi nyi ma / The Sun Beaten Path, Filmmakers of the Present, 2011) and in Berlin with the second, (Gtsangbo / River, Generation KPlus, 2015), last year Sonthar Gyal (Tíbet, 1974) produced Ala Changso, winner of the Jury Grand Prix and of the best screenplay award in Shanghai. In his latest film, Lhamo and Skalbe, the protagonists are a couple whose past prevents them from marrying.
The film by Malgorzata Szumowska (Cracow, 1973) 33 sceny z zycla (33 Scenes from Life, 2008) won the Special Jury Prize at Locarno and screened in the Festival’s retrospective, Eastern Promises. In 2015 she directed Cialo (Body, 2015), recipient of the Silver Bear in Berlin and of the audience award at the European Film accolades, and last year she helmed Twarz / Mug (2018), winner of the Jury Grand Prix in Berlin. In The Other Lamb she follows an adolescent, devoted follower of an alternative religion.
With a long and successful career as a playwright and actor in Portugal, where he has worked with filmmakers such as Tiago Guedes and Ivo Ferreira, Gonçalo Waddington (Lisbon, 1977) takes his first steps as a feature filmmaker with Patrick, the tale of an adolescent who was kidnapped as a child.
Alice Winocour (Paris, 1976) presented her first two films at the Cannes Festival: her debut movie, Augustine, at the Semaine de la Critique (2012) and the second, Maryland / Disorder, in Un Certain Regard. The winner of the César for best original screenplay for Mustang directs in Proxima Matt Dillon and Eva Green, in the part of an astronaut who lives alone with her seven-year-old daughter.
Paxton Winters made his debut with Crude (2003), winner of an award in Seattle and Los Angeles. In Pacified, produced by another filmmaker, Darren Aronofsky, he looks at the tale of friendship between an adolescent and a drug trafficker recently released from prison, with the police control of the favelas during the Olympic Games in Brazil as its backdrop.
These six titles join the latest films by (Mientras dure la guerra), Louise Archambault (Il pleuvait des oiseaux / And the Birds Rained Down), Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga (La trinchera infinita), James Franco (Zeroville), Belén Funes (La hija de un ladrón), Roger Michell (Blackbird), Guillaume Nicloux (Thalasso), José Luis Torres Leiva (Vendrá la muerte y tendrá tus ojos / Death Will Come and Shall Have Your Eyes), Ina Weisse (Das Vorspiel / The Audition), Adilkhan Yerzhanov (A Dark-Dark Man) and David Zonana (Mano de obra / Workforce). In total, seventeen productions will compete for the Golden Shell. Furthermore, François Girard (The Song of Names), closing film of the Official Selection, and Daniel Sánchez Arévalo (Diecisiete / Seventeen) will participate out of competition, while La odisea de los giles (Heroic Losers, Sebastián Borensztein) will have a special screening.
LHAMO AND SKALBE
SONTHAR GYAL (CHINA)
Cast: Sonam Nyima, Dekyid, Sechok Gyal
Lhamo and Skalbe fail to get married when they find out that Skalbe has already registered a marriage. Memories rush back as Skalbe embarks on a journey in search for his so-called ex-wife Cuoyehe, only to discover that the girl had renunciated her secular life when she broke their marriage promise four years ago. As a result, Cuoyehe’s religious identity causes great difficulty in Skalbe’s attempt at a divorce. On the other hand, Lhamo becomes aloof. Pressured into rehearsing for a Tibetan opera called Epic of King Gesar for the Chinese New Year, Lhamo enacts the leading role of Ngada Namo, a woman steeped in sin and fell into hell. As antipathy develops in Lhamo towards the character, her fear for marriage also begins to surface from a secret buried deep inside her heart.
PACIFICADO / PACIFIED
PAXTON WINTERS (BRAZIL)
Cast: Bukassa Kabengele, Cassia Nascimento, José Loreto, Débora Nascimento
Tati, an introspective 13 year old girl struggles to connect with her estranged father, Jaca, after he is released from prison in the turbulent wake of the Rio Olympics. As Brazilian Pacification Police battle to maintain a tenuous occupation of the surrounding Rio favelas, Tati and Jaca must navigate the clashing forces threatening to derail their hope for the future. Born of a seven year creative collaboration between the community of ‘Morro dos Prazeres’ and writer/director, Paxton Winters, Pacificado / Pacified offers a bracingly intimate portrait of a family trying to find peace in the ever-shifting urban battlefield they call home.
GONÇALO WADDINGTON (PORTUGAL – GERMANY)
Cast: Hugo Fernandes, Teresa Sobral, Carla Maciel, Alba Baptista
Mário, an 8-year-old boy abducted in central Portugal during the spring of 1999, resurfaces 12 years later in a Parisian jail. This period of disappearance hides a terrible secret and all the complexities of this mysterious character.
ALICE WINOCOUR (FRANCE – GERMANY)
Cast: Eva Green, Matt Dillon, Zélie Boulant-Lemesle
Sarah is a French astronaut training at the European Space Agency in Cologne. She is the only woman in the arduous program. She lives alone with Stella, her seven year old daughter. Sarah feels guilty that she cannot spend more time with her child. Her love is overpowering, unsettling. When Sarah is chosen to join the crew of a year-long space mission called Proxima, it creates chaos in the mother-daughter relationship.
SARAH GAVRON (UK)
Cast: Bukky Bakray, Kosar Ali, D’angelou Osei Kissiedu, Shaneigha-Monik Greyson, Ruby Stokes, Tawheda Begum, Anastasia Dymitrow, Afi Okaidja, Sarah Niles
Rocks is a teenager with big dreams for the future, brilliant loyal friends, and a little if rather cheeky adoring brother, Emmanuel. Rocks loves going to school (just like any other youngster) and lives a full and exciting life in East London with her friends. Rocks’ world is turned upside down when she comes home from school to find that her mother is gone, leaving a little money and a note giving no other explanation than “Sorry”. Determined to stay with her brother and lead the welfare system on a merry dance, Rocks leaves her home and hides around East London. As each day becomes tougher and their secret gets more difficult to hide, Rocks pushes away those who love her and her friendship squad begins to fracture. When the authorities finally catch up with her, there is only one solution: her friends. A film about the joy, resilience and spirit of girlhood.
THE OTHER LAMB
MAŁGORZATA SZUMOWSKA (IRELAND – BELGIUM – POLAND – USA)
Cast: Raffey Cassidy, Michiel Huisman, Denise Gough
Selah is a young girl born into an alternative religion known as the Flock. The members of the Flock –all women and female children– live in a rural compound, and are led by one man, known only as Shepherd. Selah, who is on the cusp of teenage-hood, is an incredibly devoted follower, but begins to bond with Sarah, an outcast wife who has grown skeptical of Shepherd’s teachings. Selah is given the great honor of participating in the sacred ritual of the birthing of the lambs –upon which they depend for survival– where she has a shocking and transformative experience. She begins to have strange visions that make her question her own reality, and everything the Shepherd has taught her and her sisters.