New films directed by Manuel Abramovich, Christophe Honoré, Sebastián Lelio, Diego Lerman, Marco Martins, Laura Mora, Frelle Petersen, Hong Sang-soo, Ulrich Seidl and Petr Václav will compete in the Official Selection at San Sebastian Festival’s 70th edition, to run from September 16-24. The competition will also show the debut films from Genki Kawamura and Marian Mathias.
Argentinian filmmaker Manuel Abramovich will compete with his fourth feature film, Pornomelancolía / Pornomelancholia, the portrait of a sex influencer.
French director Christophe Honoré, who already presented La belle personne / The Beautiful Person (2008) and Non ma fille, tu n’iras pas danser / Making Plans for Lena (2009) in the Official Selection, will compete yet again with Le Lycéen / Winter Boy, a film about a teenager in crisis following the death of his father. The cast features Paul Kircher, Vincent Lacoste and Juliette Binoche.
Genki Kawamura will present his directorial debut with a real image film, Hyakka / A Hundred Flowers, about a woman with Alzheimer’s; and Argentinian Sebastián Lelio debuts with The Wonder, set in the mid-19th century in an Irish town where a little girl is said to have survived for months without eating. Featuring in the cast of the film, based on Emma Donoghue’s homonymous novel, are Florence Pugh, Ciarán Hinds, Tom Burke, Toby Jones, Elaine Cassidy and Niamh Algar.
Having participated twice in Horizontes Latinos and won the Best Screenplay Jury Prize for Una especie de familia / A Sort of Family (2017), the Argentinian Diego Lerman (Buenos Aires, 1976) competes once again with El suplente / The Substitute, following a teacher in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. Juan Minujín, Bárbara Lennie, Alfredo Castro, María Merlino, Lucas Arrua and Rita Cortese head the cast of this film.
American filmmaker Marian Mathias presents her first feature film, Runner, about the meeting between two youngsters in the American Midwest.
Shot and set in the UK, Great Yarmouth-Provisional Figures, is the latest work from Marco Martins, on the drama of immigration seen through the character of Tânia, a woman originally from Portugal who liaises between the workers who come from her country and the factories of the Norfolk region.
Colombian filmmaker Laura Mora return to the Festival with her second feature film, Los reyes del mundo / The Kings of the World, a subversive and fantastic tale starring five boys who live on the streets of Medellín; and Danish director Frelle Petersen will compete with Resten af livet / Forever, that delivers a complex and life-affirming portrait of a family as they mourn the loss of their eldest son and brother.
Hong Sang-soo will compete with Top / Walk Up, the story of the meetings between a middle-aged moviemaker and different people. This will be the South Korean filmmaker’s second participation in the Official Selection, where he previously won the Silver Shell for Best Director with Dangsinjasingwa dangsinui geot / Yourself and Yours (2016).
Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl (Vienna, 1952) participates for the first time in the official competition with Sparta, a film completing the diptych started with Rimini (2022), premiered at the last Berlinale. The central character of Sparta is the brother of the failed singer playing the lead part in Rimini.
Czech filmmaker Petr Václav, who competed in New Directors with Paralelní svety (Parallel Worlds, 2001), will also return to San Sebastian for his first appearance in the Official Selection. His latest feature, Il Boemo, is a biographical drama on the figure of Josef Myslivecek, one of the most prolific Italian opera composers of the 1770s.
These titles will be joined by the four films with Spanish production also to compete in the Official Selection: La consagración de la primavera / The Rite of Spring, by Fernando Franco; Suro, by Mikel Gurrea; La maternal, by Pilar Palomero, and Girasoles silvestres / Wild Flowers, by Jaime Rosales.
Also showing apart from the competition will be the special screening of La (très) grande évasion / Tax Me If You Can, a French production in which Yannick Kergoat (Le Raincy, 1962) combs the tax evasion circuits and deciphers the mechanisms of large-scale fraud.
This documentary joins El sostre groc, Isabel Coixet’s non-fiction and another of this edition’s special screenings, and Apagón / Offworld, the Movistar Plus+ series programmed out of competition with five episodes and directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen, Raúl Arévalo, Isa Campo, Alberto Rodríguez and Isaki Lacuesta. Furthermore, the film Modelo 77 / Prison 77 by Alberto Rodríguez will open the Festival out of competition.
EL SUPLENTE / THE SUBSTITUTE
DIEGO LERMAN (ARGENTINA)
Country(ies) of production: Argentina – Spain – Italy – Mexico – France
Cast: Juan Minujín, Bárbara Lennie, Alfredo Castro, María Merlino, Lucas Arrua, Rita Cortese
Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum 2019
Lucio, a prestigious university professor of literature, takes a course at a school in the area where he grew up, in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. There he will try to help his father to save Dilan, a student hounded by a group of drug traffickers.
GREAT YARMOUTH – PROVISIONAL FIGURES
MARCO MARTINS (PORTUGAL)
Country(ies) of production: Portugal – France – UK
Cast: Beatriz Batarda, Kris Hitchen, Bob Elliott, Romeu Runa, Victor Lourenço, Nuno Lopes, Rita Cabaço
October 2019, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk (UK). Three months before Brexit. Hundreds of Portuguese migrant workers pour into town, seeking work at the local turkey factories. Tânia (The Mother of the Portuguese), a former worker in these poultry plants, is now married to an English hotel owner. She is the perfect facilitator for the Portuguese workers, but dreams of becoming a British citizen and leaving this dirty business behind by transforming her husband’s derelict hotels into refurbished senior citizens homes.
HYAKKA / A HUNDRED FLOWERS
GENKI KAWAMURA (JAPAN)
Country(ies) of production: Japan
Cast: Masaki Suda, Mieko Harada, Masami Nagasawa, Masatoshi Nagase
Diagnosed with dementia, Yuriko’s mind quickly begins to fade. Yet, for her son Izumi, memories of the mother feel as vivid as when he lived them. One in particular, when he believed she had disappeared, haunts him terribly.
PETR VÁCLAV (CZECH REPUBLIC)
Country(ies) of production: Czech Republic – Italy – Slovakia
Cast: Vojtěch Dyk, Elena Radonicich, Barbara Ronchi, Lana Vlady
The year is 1764. For over a year, Josef has been leading a precarious life in Venice. He hopes to become an opera composer. The city, full of talented and already-established composers, seems closed to him. Looking for work as a violinist, he comes into the orbit of a rich young woman. Thanks to her, he gets the opportunity to play at salons. But his real opportunity arises when he becomes the lover of a libertine marquise. She teaches him worldly manners, rids him of signs of a provincial upbringing and introduces him to a hedonistic existence free from religious intolerance. Thus transformed, Josef gets an incan incredible commission: to write an opera for the San Carlo, Europe’s largest theatre.
LE LYCÉEN / WINTER BOY
CHRISTOPHE HONORÉ (FRANCE)
Country(ies) of production: France
Cast: Paul Kircher, Vincent Lacoste, Juliette Binoche, Erwan Kepoa Falé, Adrian Casse, Pascal Cervo, Christophé Honoré
Lucas is 17 when his teenage world is suddenly shattered. He views his life as a wild animal in need of taming. Between a brother settled in Paris and a mother with whom he now lives alone, Lucas will to have to fight to rediscover hope and love.
LOS REYES DEL MUNDO / THE KINGS OF THE WORLD
LAURA MORA (COLOMBIA)
Country(ies) of production: Colombia – Luxembourg – France – Mexico – Norway
Cast: Carlos Andrés Castañeda, Davidson Andrés Flórez, Brahian Stiven Acevedo, Cristian Camilo David Mora
“One day all men fell asleep… And the rims of the world burned”. Los reyes del mundo is a film about the disobedience, friendship and dignity that exist in resistance. Rá, Culebro, Sere, Winny and Nano. Five boys who live on the streets of Medellín. Five kings with no kingdom, no law, no family, set out on a journey in search of the promised land. A subversive tale told through a wild and endearing clan, somewhere between reality and delirium. A journey to nowhere, where everything happens.
PORNOMELANCOLÍA / PORNOMELANCHOLIA
MANUEL ABRAMOVICH (ARGENTINA)
Country(ies) of production: Argentina – France – Brazil – Mexico
Cast: Lalo Santos
Ikusmira Berriak 2018
WIP Latam 2021
Lalo is a sex influencer: he posts photos of his naked body and homemade porn videos for his thousands of social media followers. Lalo directs his own life, but in private, when out of character, he seems to live in constant melancholy.
RESTEN AF LIVET / FOREVER
FRELLE PETERSEN (DENMARK)
Country(ies) of production: Denmark
Cast: Jette Søndergaard, Ole Sørensen, Mette Munk Plum
When married couple Egon and Maren lose their adult son, their family, which includes their daughter Lily, is paralyzed with grief. As it turns out, the three of them have very different ways of coping with grief and soon find themselves slipping apart. Now the three of them need to find their way back to life and to reconstitute the family. Forever is a life-affirming family drama set in Southern Jutland, the southernmost corner of Denmark.
MARIAN MATHIAS (USA)
Country(ies) of production: USA – Germany – France
Cast: Hannah Schiller, Darren Houle, Jonathan Eisley, Gene Jones
After the sudden death of her father, Haas meets Will. Runner is the story of two young strangers finding each other across the vast American landscape.
ULRICH SEIDL (AUSTRIA)
Country(ies) of production: Austria – France – Germany
Cast: Georg Friedrich, Florentina Elena Pop, Hans-Michael Rehberg, Marius Ignat, Octavian-Nicolae Cocis
Ewald moved to Rumania years ago. Now in his 40s, he seeks a fresh start. Leaving his girlfriend, he moves to the hinterland. With young boys from the area, he transforms a decaying school into a fortress. The children enjoy a new, carefree existence. But the distrust of the villagers is soon awoken. And Ewald is forced to confront a truth he has long suppressed. Sparta is the brother film to Rimini, and the conclusion of Ulrich Seidl’s diptych about the inescapability of the past and the pain of finding yourself.
SEBASTIÁN LELIO (CHILE)
Country(ies) of production: UK – Ireland
Cast: Florence Pugh, Tom Burkey, Kila Lord Cassidy
The Irish Midlands, 1862. A young girl stops eating but remains miraculously alive and well. English nurse Lib Wright is brought to a tiny village to observe eleven-year old Anna O’Donnell. Tourists and pilgrims mass to witness the girl who is said to have survived without food for months. Is the village harbouring a saint “surviving on manna from heaven” or are there more ominous motives at work? A psychological thriller inspired by the 19th century phenomenon of the fasting girls and adapted from the acclaimed novel by Emma Donoghue.
TOP / WALK UP
HONG SANG-SOO (SOUTH KOREA)
Country(ies) of production: South Korea
Cast: Kwon Hae-hyo, Lee Hye-young, Song Sun-mi
A middle-aged film director and the daughter he hasn’t seen in years visit a building owned by an interior designer. They have come because the daughter also hopes to study interior design. The designer takes them up floor by floor to show them the renovations she has done. The three of them go into the rooms on each floor to look around. After the film begins in this way, we start again at the bottom and ascend one floor at a time.
OUT OF COMPETITION
LA (TRÈS) GRANDE ÉVASION / TAX ME IF YOU CAN
YANNICK KERGOAT (FRANCE)
Country(ies) of production: France
Welcome to the world of capital flight! The key to amassing a huge fortune? Find accomplices, know how to hide and take advantage of every loophole in the system.The rest of us can only bask in the joys of austerity politics in an ever-more un-egalitarian world. How far will they go, these predators who steal from our national economies? How complicit are our politicians? And how do we stop them? A funny, shocking and true in-depth investigation – a unique and hopeful call for change.