Acclaimed filmmakers including Laurent Cantet, Terence Davies, Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Claudia Llosa and Claire Simon will compete in the Official Selection at 69th edition of San Sebastian Festival running from September 17-25, 2021. Inés Barrionuevo will show her fourth feature film, while Alina Grigore, Zhang Ji and Tea Lindeburg will also present their first films.
His debut, Ressources humaines/Human Resources, 1999 earned Laurent Cantet the New Directors Award at the Festival, and now the French filmmaker returns with Arthur Rambo, starring Rabah Naït Oufella as a successful writer forced to deal with the hate messages he posted in the past on social media.
Terence Davies, to whom the Festival dedicated a retrospective in 2008, will compete for the Golden Shell for the third time with Benediction, a biopic starring actor Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi at different moments in the life of Siegfried Sassoon, a soldier and anti-war poet who survived World War I.
Lucile Hadzihalilovic, who bagged the New Directors Award with her debut, Innocence (2004) returns this year with Earwig. Based on the novel by Brian Catling, it tells the story of Albert, a man employed to look after Mia, a girl with teeth of ice.
The Peruvian filmmaker, Claudia Llosa, winner of the Golden Bear at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival with La teta asustada/The Milk of Sorrow, the first Peruvian film nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar, will compete in San Sebastian for the first time with Distancia de rescate / Fever Dream, alongside a cast featuring María Valverde, Dolores Fonzi, Germán Palacios and Guillermo Pfening. The new film, co-written by Samanta Schweblin, author of the book of the same name – is a tale of invisible fear and the power of motherly love.
Claire Simon will bring her latest work, Vous ne désirez que moi / I Want to Talk about Duras, an approach to the interview between the journalist Michèle Manceaux and Yann Andrea, lover of the writer Marguerite Duras in her last years.
Inés Barrionuevo will participate in the competition with her fourth feature film, Camila saldrá esta noche (Camila Comes Out Tonight), whose young protagonist must deal with the changes of moving to Buenos Aires and taking up her studies at a traditional private school.
The official competition will also present debuting moviemiakers including the Romanian actress and screenwriter Alina Grigore, who will compete in the Official Selection with Crai nou / Blue Moon, a drama focussed on a young woman who lives in the oppressive environment of a dysfunctional family opposed to her desires.
Also presenting his first work is Zhang Ji, until now director of photography, he will present Ping Yuan Shang De Mo Xi / Fire on the Plain, a thriller set in the Chinese city of Fentun, where a young police officer reopens an investigation into mysterious eight-year-old crimes.
Tea Lindeburg’s first feature, Du som er i himlen / As in Heaven, draws its inspiration from the Danish literary classic published in 1912 by Marie Bregendahl. The action takes place in the late 19th century on a farm where a large family is expecting their ninth child, while the eldest sister prepares to leave to study.
69th San Sebastian Festival Official Selections
LAURENT CANTET (FRANCE)
Cast: Rabah Nait Oufella, Antoine Reinartz, Sofian Khammes
“I am sharp and wise. I know poetry and politics. I raised from a social underworld to an exposed position as a provocative Parisian author. I published a novel but I also write in 140 signs on social media. And when I do, I hit my target. That’s why they all me want out!”
TERENCE DAVIES (UK)
Cast: Jack Lowden, Simon Russell Beale, Peter Capaldi, Jeremy Irvine, Kate Phillips, Gemma Jones
Siegfried Sassoon was a complex man who survived the horrors of fighting in the First World War and was decorated for his bravery but who became a vocal critic of the government’s continuation of the war when he returned from service. His poetry was inspired by his experiences on the Western Front and he became one of the leading war poets of the era. Adored by members of the aristocracy as well as stars of London’s literary and stage world, he embarked on affairs with several men as he attempted to come to terms with his homosexuality. At the same time, broken by the horror of war, he made his life’s journey a quest for salvation, trying to find it within the conformity of marriage and religion. His story is one of a troubled man in a fractured world searching for peace and self acceptance, something which speaks as meaningfully to the modern world as it did then.
CAMILA SALDRÁ ESTA NOCHE / CAMILA COMES OUT TONIGHT
INÉS BARRIONUEVO (ARGENTINA)
Cast: Nina Dziembrowski, Maite Valero, Diego Sánchez, Adriana Ferrer
When her grandmother falls seriously ill, Camila must move to Buenos Aires, leaving her friends and an easy-going comprehensive school for a traditional private institution. Camila’s ferocious but immature temperament will be put to the test.
CRAI NOU / BLUE MOON
ALINA GRIGORE (ROMANIA)
Cast: Ioana Chitu, Mircea Postelnicu, Mircea Silaghi, Vlad Ivanov
The film follows the psychological journey of a young woman to her dehumanizing process. Irina struggles to achieve higher education and escape the violence of her dysfunctional family. An ambiguous sexual experience with an artist will spur her intention to fight the violence in her family…
DISTANCIA DE RESCATE / FEVER DREAM
CLAUDIA LLOSA (USA – CHILE – SPAIN)
Cast: María Valverde, Dolores Fonzi, Guillermo Pfening, Germán Palacios, Emilio Vodanovich
A young woman lies dying far from home. A boy sits beside her. She is not his mother. He is not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, an invisible threat and the power and desperation of family. Based on the internationally critically acclaimed novel by Samanta Schweblin.
DU SOM ER I HIMLEN / AS IN HEAVEN
TEA LINDEBURG (DENMARK)
Cast: Flora Ofelia, Thure Lindhardt, Stine Fischer Christensen
One day at the end of the 1800s, 14-year-old Lise’s life is changed forever. She is the eldest of her siblings, the first in her family to go to school and full of hope and confidence in life. But when her mother goes into labour, it quickly appears that something is wrong. As night falls and the labour progresses, Lise begins to understand that a day that began in childhood might end with her becoming the woman of the house.
LUCILE HADZIHALILOVIC ( UK – FRANCE – BELGIUM)
Cast: Paul Hilton, Romola Garai, Alex Lawther
Somewhere in Europe, mid-20th century. Albert is employed to look after Mia, a girl with teeth of ice. Mia never leaves their apartment, where the shutters are always closed. The telephone rings regularly and the Master enquires after Mia’s wellbeing. Until the day Albert is instructed that he must prepare the child to leave…
PING YUAN SHANG DE MO XI / FIRE ON THE PLAIN
ZHANG JI (CHINA)
Cast: Fei Li, Shu Zhuang, Dongxin Fu, Shoulian Li, Bufan Jiang, Tianbo Sun, Dezeng Zhuang
China, 1997. A series of murders strikes the city of Fentun. The crimes mysteriously stop without the authorities having been able to find the perpetrator. Eight years later, a young police officer, close to one of the victims, decides to reopen the investigation.
VOUS NE DÉSIREZ QUE MOI / I WANT TO TALK ABOUT DURAS
CLAIRE SIMON (FRANCE)
Cast: Swann Arlaud, Emmanuelle Devos
A man involved in a passionate relationship with a celebrated writer of 30 years his senior needs to talk. He is fascinated by her and yet he feels he just cannot go on anymore. He opens up, in an attempt to put into words the intensity of his love and he describes it with great clarity.