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David Cronenberg with Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen, (r) David Cronenberg

Canadian director and screenwriter David Cronenberg will receive a Donostia Award at the 70th edition of the San Sebastian Festival, and screen his latest film Crimes of the Future (2022), starring Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart which competed at Cannes Film Festival.

Cronenberg joins the list of moviemakers to have received the Donostia Award, including Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, Oliver Stone, Agnès Varda, Hirokazu Koreeda and Costa-Gavras.

He has directed some twenty features including works considered today to be the classics of genres like sci-fi, horror, psychological drama and thriller. He has also written several works for television.

In 2004, the San Sebastian Festival screened Crash (1996) as part of the Incorrect@s retrospective and three years later Cronenberg made what had been until now his one and only visit to San Sebastian to open the Official Selection with Eastern Promises (2007).

Self-taught, his earliest shorts included Transfer (1966) and From the Drain (1967), followed by his first experimental features, Stereo (1969) and Crimes of the Future (1970), a work-sharing the same name as his latest movie. Those early works already hinted at the traits of a filmography marked by subjects encompassing disease, violence, sex, the body and scientific experiments.

Cronenberg has taken to the screen novels by iconic writers including Stephen King —The Dead Zone (1983)—, William Burroughs —The Naked Lunch (1991), perhaps his major cult work— and J.G. Ballard, an author he adapted in Crash (1996), an analysis of sexual arousal in car accident victims, Special Jury Prize winner at the Festival de Cannes. Having approached virtual reality in eXistenZ (1999) and plunged into the depths of mental illness in Spider (2002), the Canadian moviemaker launched a new stage in his films where fantasy was no longer the main ingredient… until now, 20 years down the line, when he brings us the recently premiered Crimes of the Future (2022), a review or compendium of his early obsessions and Donostia Award Screening at San Sebastian Festival’s 70th edition.

This movie is his fourth collaboration with actor Viggo Mortensen, with whom he first worked on A History of Violence (2005), a thriller set around a man with a dark past. The other two are Eastern Promises (2007), an immersion in the inferno of London’s Russian mafia, and A Dangerous Method (2011), in which Mortensen portrays Sigmund Freud. Crimes of the Future was preceded by Cosmopolis (2012), an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel, and Maps to the Stars (2014), a biting reflection on fame.

Both of those works had the participation of Robert Pattinson, one of the latest stars to join the long list of names with whom David Cronenberg has worked in his extensive career, particularly including Juliette Binoche (another Donostia Award winner this edition), Gabriel Byrne, Willem Dafoe, Geena Davis, Michael Fassbender, Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Goldblum, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter, William Hurt, Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Miranda Richardson, Martin Sheen, James Spader, Christopher Walken, Naomi Watts, Peter Weller and James Woods.

David Cronenberg has also performed as an actor in movies by other directors, such as Nightbreed (1990, Clive Barker), To Die For (1995, Gus Van Sant), Extreme Measures (1996, Michael Apted) and Falling (2020), whose director, Viggo Mortensen, he congratulated by video when the actor was presented with his own Donostia Award at the Kursaal in 2020. Amongst his other accolades are the Order of Canada and having been named Officer of the Order of the Arts and the Letters and Knight of the Legion of Honour in France. In 2014 he published his first novel, Consumed: A Novel.

Country(ies) of production: Canada – Greece
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Scott Speedman, Welket Bungué

As the human species adapts to a synthetic environment, the body undergoes new transformations and mutations. His partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux), and Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen), a celebrity performance artist, publicly showcase the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances. Timlin (Kristen Stewart), an investigator from the National Organ Registry, obsessively tracks their movements, which is when a mysterious group is revealed… Their mission – was to use Saul’s notoriety to shed light on the next phase of human evolution.

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