Zabaltegi-Tabakalera, the most open competitive section of the 2019 San Sebastian International Film Festival, will include 19 competing films, among which are the latest works from filmmakers such as Bertrand Bonello, Mati Diop, Takashi Miike and Diao Yinan.
Four fims will be world premieres. In Ficción privada (Private Fiction) Andrés di Tella (Buenos Aires, 1958) delves into his family history through the letters written years earlier by his parents. The filmmaker returns to San Sebastian after the screening in Zabaltegi of 327 cuadernos (327 Notebooks, 2015), which had an art installation in Tabakalera, where it was the subject of a Focus on that same year. Justin Webster (Aldershot, UK, 1963), the maker of Muerte en León (2016) and El fin de ETA (Zinemira, 2016), will premiere El fiscal, la presidenta y la espía (The Prosecutor, the President and the Spy), a 6-episode series on investigation into the Nisman case.
Having participated in Zabaltegi-Tabakalera with the short film 592 metroz goiti (Above 592 Metres,2018), Maddi Barber (Lakabe, Navarre, 1988) returns to the section with Urpean lurra / Land Underwater, a medium-length film in which she once again turns her sights towards the Itoiz reservoir. The section’s fourth world premiere will be Lursaguak (Scenes of Life), by Izibene Oñederra (Azkoitia, 1979), included in Kimuak, the Basque Government’s short film catalogue, who previously appeared in the Velodrome with For Your Own Safety(Zabaltegi, 2013) and Kutxa Beltza, one of the segments of the omnibus film, Kalebegiak (2016). In addition, Anthony Marciano (France, 1979) will see the international premiere of his third feature film, Play, about a young boy who portrays a whole generation through his video camera.
The director Angela Schanelec (Aalen, Germany, 1962), a regular at events such as Cannes and Berlin, will present Ich war zuhause, aber / I Was At Home, But, the story of a mother whose son disappears without a trace for 10 days. Thanks to this movie, the filmmaker won the Silver Bear for best director at the last Berlin Festival, who’s Official Selection saw the participation of another experienced filmmaker, well known at the German competition, Denis Côté (New Brunswick, Canada, 1973). In Répertoire des villes disparues / Ghost Town Anthology, the Canadian ventures into a tiny Quebec locality where strange things happen.
Jean-Gabriel Périot (Bellac, France, 1974), who participated in New Directors with Lumières d’été (2016) and in Zabaltegi-Tabakalera with Une jeunesse allemande / A German Youth (2015) and Song for the Jungle (2018), will return to this section with Nos défaites / Our Defeats, a portrait of our relationship with politics through a game of re-enactment. The film screened at the Berlinale Forum, alongside Delphine et Carole, insoumuses / Delphine and Carole, by debuting director Callisto McNulty (Paris, 1990), taking us on a voyage into the heart of feminism in the 70s thanks to the meeting between the actress Delphine Seyrig and the video artist, Carole Roussopoulos.
Also programmed are three films which took part in Berlinale Shorts. Blue Boy won the Golden Bear in that section thanks to the portrayal of seven Rumanian sex workers in the German capital. This is the second participation by Manuel Abramovich (Buenos Aires, 1987) in Zabaltegi-Tabakalera, which he already visited with Soldado (Soldier, 2017) prior to his project El oasis being selected for the Ikusmira Berriak programme in 2018. Secondly, Martín Rejtman (Buenos Aires, 1961), whose works have screened in different sections at San Sebastian and who will be this year’s Nest Film Students jury president, will show Shakti, about a boy who decides to break up with his girlfriend on the day his grandmother dies. The third and last Berlinale Shorts film will be The Golden Legend, also included in Kimuak and directed by Ion de Sosa (Urnieta, 1981)and Chema García Ibarra (Elche, 1980). The latter of the two landed a Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Award special mention for his short film La disco resplandece (The Disco Shines, 2016).
On the other hand, the Festival will show Atlantique / Atlantics, Mati Diop’s (Paris, 1982) debut film, starting when workers from Dakar decide to take to the sea in search of a better future. The French-Senegalese director won the Jury Grand Prix in the Official Selection at Cannes, alongside another competitor, Diao Yinan, winner of the Golden Bear in Berlin with Bai ri yan huo (Black Coal, 2014). His latest film, Nan Fang Che Zhan de ju hui / The Wild Goose Lake, pairs a gangster seeking redemption with a prostitute intent on recovering her freedom.
Having competed for the Golden Shell with Nocturama (2016) and taken Sarah Winchester, ópera Fantôme(Sarah Winchester, Phantom Opera, 2016) to Zabaltegi-Tabakalera, Bertrand Bonello (Nice, 1968) will return to the latter of the two sections with Zombi Child, which opens in 1962 in Haiti and continues in the French capital 55 years later. For his part, Takashi Miike (Yao, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, 1960) will participate with Hatsukoi (First Love), a story uniting a boxer, a call girl, a bent cop and a yakuza, among other recognizable characters in the filmography of the director who, like Bonello, presented this film in the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at Cannes.
Damien Manivel (Brest, France, 1981), whose film La nuit ou j’ai nagé / The Night I Swam (2017) participated in the Orizzonti section at Venice and in Zabaltegi-Tabakalera, will return with Les enfants d’Isadora / Isadora’s Children, about four women who come across the solo dance created by Isadora Duncan in 1913, following the death of her two children. The feature film recently received the best director award at the Locarno Festival, which also programmed L’île aux oiseaux / Bird Island, a new collaboration between Maya Kosa (Geneva, Switzerland, 1985) and Sergio da Costa (Lausanne, 1984) where a young boy rediscovers the world in a rehabilitation centre for birds. Anna Sofie Hartmann (Nakskov, Denmark, 1984), who debuted in New Directors with Limbo (2014), returns with Giraffe, in which she explores the perspectives of the workers and inhabitants of a geographic space which will never be the same again after the construction of a tunnel to join Germany and Denmark. The film premiered out of competition in Locarno.
ATLANTIQUE / ATLANTICS
MATI DIOP (FRANCE – SENEGAL – BELGIUM)
Along the Atlantic coast, a soon-to-be-inaugurated futuristic tower looms over a suburb of Dakar. Ada, 17, is in love with Souleimane, a young construction worker. But she has been promised to another man. One night, Souleimane and his co-workers disappear at sea. Soon after, they come back to haunt their old neighborhood by taking possession of the girlfriends they left behind. Some of the workers have come claiming revenge and threaten to burn the tower down if the developer does not pay their wages. But Souleiman has come back for Ada, so they can be together one last time.
MANUEL ABRAMOVICH (GERMANY – ARGENTINA)
What are you looking for? Do you want me? Let’s have fun… Seven Romanian sex workers in Berlin are portrayed while they listen and react to recordings of their own experiences. The camera becomes the client and the exploitation process becomes the spectacle, highlighting the inevitable performativity of power relations. Short film released in the Berlinale Shorts section.
DELPHINE ET CAROLE, INSOUMUSES / DELPHINE AND CAROLE
CALLISTO MCNULTY (FRANCE – SWITZERLAND)
The meeting between the actress Delphine Seyrig and the video artist Carole Roussopoulos drives us to the heart of the feminism of the 1970s. With a video camera in hand, they will engage in radical fights with insolence, intransigence and humor.
EL FISCAL, LA PRESIDENTA Y EL ESPIA / THE PROSECUTOR, THE PRESIDENT AND THE SPY
JUSTIN WEBSTER (SPAIN – GERMANY)
A prosecutor investigating a terrorist bombing accuses the Argentinian president of colluding with Iran. Four days later he is found dead in his bathroom with a single shot to the head. Alberto Nisman died in Buenos Aires, but the shockwaves of this mysterious murder, or suicide, spread across the globe to Israel, Iran and the United States. 6-episode series.
FICCIÓN PRIVADA / PRIVATE FICTION
ANDRÉS DI TELLA (ARGENTINA)
Cast: Denise Groesman, Julián Larquier, Edgardo Cozarinsky, Lola Di Tella
Over several days and nights, an actor and an actress read the correspondence between Torcuato and Kamala, the film director’s parents, he from Argentina, and she from India. The letters, encompassing the decades from the 50s to the 70s, refer to love and idealism, record world travels, talk about socialism and psychoanalysis, about pain and broken dreams. Their reading reveals a relationship between the actors, with similarities and differences. Meanwhile, with his own daughter, the director sets about solving the puzzle of the family memory, an intimate twentieth-century tale.
ANNA SOFIE HARTMANN (GERMANY – DENMARK)
Cast: Lisa Loven Kongsli, Jakub Gierszal, Maren Eggert
A Danish summer: long days turn into blue nights. A tunnel is being built to connect Denmark and Germany. Three people meet and part ways again.
HATSUKOI / FIRST LOVE
TAKASHI MIIKE (JAPAN – UK)
Cast: Masataka Kubota, Nao Omori, Shota Sometani, Sakurako Konishi, Becky , Jun Murakami
Leo is a young boxer down on his luck who meets his ‘first love’ Monica, a call girl and an addict but still an innocent. Little does Leo know, Monica is unwittingly caught up in a drug-smuggling scheme, and the two are pursued through the night by a corrupt cop, a yakuza, his nemesis, and a female assassin sent by the Chinese Triads. All of their fates intertwine.
ICH WAR ZUHAUSE, ABER
ANGELA SCHANELEC (GERMANY – SERBIA )
Cast: Eggert Maren, Lassalle Jakob, Möller Clara, Rogowski Franz, Stangenberg Lilith, Williams Adam, Zett Jirka, Komljen Dane
Phillip, a thirteen-year-old schoolboy, disappears without a trace for a week. When he reappears, his mother is faced with questions that lead her to see her own life in a new light. She and his teachers can only guess what the boy was looking for, whether he had been in the woods or was toying with death, triggered by his father’s passing. His mother is unable to allow her son to live a life of his own on which she can only have a limited influence.
L’ÎLE AUX OISEAUX / BIRD ISLAND
MAYA KOSA, SERGIO DA COSTA (SWITZERLAND)
Cast: Antonin Ivanidze
After a long period of isolation, Antonin, a young man suffering from persisting exhaustion, rediscovers the world at a rehabilitation center for birds. In this strange place wounded birds and lost souls cohabit, lulled by the ubiquitous sounds of airplanes.
LES ENFANTS D’ISADORA / ISADORA’S CHILDREN
DAMIEN MANIVEL (FRANCE – SOUTH KOREA)
Cast: Agathe Bonitzer, Manon Carpentier, Marika Rizzy, Elsa Wolliaston
Following the death of her two children in April 1913, the legendary dancer, Isadora Duncan, created a farewell solo entitled Mother in which, in a moment of extreme tenderness, a mother cradles her child for the last time before letting him go. A century later, four women encounter the heartrending dance.
LEYENDA DORADA / THE GOLDEN LEGEND
ION DE SOSA, CHEMA GARCÍA IBARRA (SPAIN)
Cast: Al Sarcoli, Cristina Canchal, María Ángeles Rosco, Carlos Lebrón Lázaro, Laura Molano Canchal, David Pavón Gómez
A summer day in the municipal swimming pool: heat, teenagers, families, couples, dips, beers and sandwiches in the bar. An adolescent medium tries to locate someone by moving a pendulum over a map of Spain. In the midst of the ordinary goings on something extraordinary happens: a boy on the verge of drowning is saved by a person who walks on the water of the pool to get to him. The miracle is accepted naturally by the other bathers and the summer afternoon continues as if nothing had happened.
IZIBENE OÑEDERRA (SPAIN)
As Hélène Cixous would say, we precisely live in this time when the conceptual basis of an age-old culture is being undermined by millions of moles of a species never seen before.
NAN FANG CHE ZHAN DE JU HUI / THE WILD GOOSE LAKE
DIAO YINAN (CHINA – FRANCE)
Cast: Hu Ge, Gwei Lun Mei, Liao Fan, Wan Qian
Zhou Zenong is a gangster recently freed from jail who becomes a fugitive that same night when a gang encounter goes wrong, leaving a policeman dead. Attempting to hide while recovering from his wounds, Zhou meets Liu Aiai, a prostitute who may have been sent to help him, or perhaps to hand him over to the police detective in exchange for a large sum. Pursued by the gangs and by a herd of officers apparently encompassing the entire city of Wuhan, Zhou must decide just how much he’s willing to sacrifice both for this stranger and for the family he left behind.
NOS DÉFAITES / OUR DEFEATS
JEAN-GABRIEL PÉRIOT (FRANCE)
How much strength do we have left to deal with today’s chaos? Nos défaites draws a picture of our relationship with politics through a game involving the restaging, by secondary school students, of extracts of films made post-May ’68, interspersed with interviews with these young actors. How do they perceive the world they’re growing up in? And, above all, would they like to change it, destroy it or build a new one?
ANTHONY MARCIANO (FRANCE)
Cast: Max Boublil, Alice Isaaz
1993, thirteen-year-old Max receives his first video camera. From the 90s to the present day, Max has recorded everything: his friends, his successes, his heartbreaks, his first times… The essential and the futile. On the eve of the biggest decision of his existence, he edits the movie of his life. The movie of everyone’s life.
REPERTOIRE DES VILLES DISPARUES / GHOST TOWN ANTHOLOGY
DENIS CÔTÉ (CANADA)
Cast: Robert Naylor, Jos Desch, Jean-Michel Anctil
In Irenee-les-Neiges, a small, isolated town with a population of 215, Simon Dube dies in a car accident. The stunned townspeople are reluctant to discuss the circumstances of the tragedy. From that point on, for the Dube family as well as for Mayor Smallwood and a handful of others, time seems to lose all meaning, and the days stretch on without end. Something descends slowly upon the area. In this period of mourning and in this fog, strangers start to appear. Who are they? What is happening?
MARTÍN REJTMAN (ARGENTINA – CHILE)
Cast: Ignacio Solmonese, Laura Visconti, Emma Luisa Rivero, Patricio Penna
Federico decides to break up with his girlfriend Magda, but she beats him to it. Federico falls into a deep depression. However, his life starts to change when he finds in his freezer the frozen potato knishes that his grandmother had given him a few months before her death.
MADDI BARBER (SPAIN)
Almost two decades ago, the Itoiz dam flooded seven villages and three natural reservoirs on the Pyrenean hillside in Navarra. The ecologist group Solidari@s con Itoiz made a video document of the fight against its construction. Today, those who were there dream of the land lying beneath the water. Their voices and gestures come together to tell the tale of an individual and collective mourning still suffered today.
BERTRAND BONELLO (FRANCE)
Cast: Louise Labeque, Wislanda Lovimat, Katiana Milfort, Mackenson Bijou
Haiti, 1962. A man is brought back from the dead only to be sent to the living hell of the sugarcane fields. In Paris, 55 years later, at the prestigious Légion d’Honneur boarding school, a Haitian girl confesses an old family secret to a group of new friends – never imagining that this strange tale will convince a heartbroken classmate to do the unthinkable.