San Sebastian Zabaltegi titles announced

Porumboiu, Salles and Erlingsson join 24-strong selection.

by Amber Wilkinson

The Treasure (Comoara), directed by Corneliu Porumboiu
The Treasure (Comoara), directed by Corneliu Porumboiu Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
San Sebastian Film Festival has announced the Zabaltegi programme for this year's festival. The section - which aims to showcase the best work by established filmmakers, many of which have already won awards at festivals - features work by directors including Corneliu Porumboiu, Walter Salles, Benedict Erlingsson and Alexander Sokurov.

Films include Anca Damian's The Magic Mountain, which won the Crystal Globe at Karlovy Vary, Corneliu Porumboiu's The Treasure, which won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes and Marcia Tambuti's Beyond My Grandfather Allende, winner of the L'Oeil d'Or award for best documentary in Cannes.

Also featured is Salles' documentary portrait Jia Zhang-ke, A Guy From Fenyang, which premiered earier this year in Berlin, Sokurov's Francofonia, which will be fresh from competition at Venice and Erlingsson's documentary exploration of fairgrounds, The Show of Shows: 100 years of Vaudeville, Circuses and Carnivals.

The full list of titles is below (synopses provided by the festival)

327 cuadernos Andrés Di Tella (Argentina/Chile)

A documentary starring Ricardo Piglia, one of the great narrators in the Spanish language, who decides to read his intimate diary for the first time. A record of 50 years of life. 327 identical notebooks, all with black oilskin covers, stored away in 40 cardboard boxes.

Adama Simon Rouby (France)

Premiered at Annecy Film Festival, an animated coming-of-age story. Twelve-year-old Adama lives in a remote West African village. One night his older brother Samba disappears and he decides to set off in search of him on a quest that takes him over the seas, to the North, to the frontline of the First World War.

Beyond My Grandfather Allende (Allende, mi abuelo Allende) Marcia Tambutti (Chile)

35 years after the coup d'état that overthrew her grandfather, Salvador Allende, Marcia draws a family portrait that addresses the complexities of irreparable loss and the role of memory in three generations of an iconic family.

Comoara (The Treasure) Corneliu Porumboiu (Romania/France)

Corneliu Porumboiu returns with a tender black comedy, in which a father's love transforms an unlikely treasure hunt into a fairytale.

Counting Jem Cohen (US)

Fifteen distinct but interconnected chapters, shot in locations from Russia to New York City to Istanbul. Together, these build to a reckoning at the intersection of city symphony, diary, and essay film. Perhaps the most personal of Cohen's documentary works, it measures street life, light, and time, noting not only surveillance and over-development but resistance and its phantoms as manifested in music, animals and everyday magic.

The Here After (Efterskalv) Magnus von Horn (Poland/Sweden/France)

The feature directorial debut by Magnus von Horn was presented at the Cannes Festival Directors’ Fortnight. After having served time in prison, John's punishment has come to an end. But he soon discovers that the real pain he needs to experience has not yet begun.

Francofonia Alexander Sokurov (France/Germany/Netherlands)

Paris 1940: Large armies are trampling on the heart of civilisation and cannon fire is once again taking its toll. Jacques Jaujard and Count Franziskus Wolff Metternich worked together to protect and preserve the treasure of the Louvre Museum. Alexander Sokurov tells their story. He explores the relationship between art and power, and asks what art tells us about ourselves, at the very heart of one of the most devastating conflicts the world has ever known.

Heart Of A Dog Laurie Anderson (US)

Composer and artist Laurie Anderson explores in this personal essay film themes of love death and language. The director’s voice is a constant presence as stories of her dog Lolabelle, her mother, childhood fantasies, political and philosophical theories unfurl in a seamless song like stream. The film will compete in the Official Selection at the Venice Film Festival.

In The Room Eric Khoo (Hong Kong/Singapore)

Eric Khoo's latest film is a tapestry of stories, all of which unfold in a hotel room over several decades. The common thread is sex. That hotel room is Room 27 at the Singapura Hotel, which started out as a ritzy establishment in the 1940s but has, over the decades, lost its sheen of respectability. In that time, Room 27 has felt and experienced - through the individuals who have passed through its doors and made love on its bed - all facets of the human condition: joy, love, fear, compassion, cruelty, depravity and redemption.

A German Youth (Une jeunesse allemande) Jean-Gabriel Périot (France/Switzerland/Germany)

A chronicle of the political radicalization of a number of German youths in the late Sixties, giving rise to the Red Army Faction (RAF), a German revolutionary terrorist group founded, among others, by Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof. It premiered in the Berlinale's Document Panorama section.

Jia Zhangke, A Guy From Fenyang (Jia Zhang-ke, um homem de Fenyang) Walter Salles (Brazil)

The portrait of a young Chinese director who has become one of the most important filmmakers of our time. The documentary, directed by Walter Salles, dwells on the question of memory (individual as well as collective) and cinema. Jia Zhang-ke returns to his birthplace, the Shanxi province in Northern China, and to the locations of his films.

Losers (Karatsi) Ivailo Hristov (Bulgaria)

Winner of the top prize at Moscow Film Festival, this film stars Elena, Koko, Patso and Gosho, high school students in a small provincial town. Koko is in love with Elena. She wants to be a singer and is excited about the upcoming concert by a famous rock band. An event that shakes up the town and gives birth to new love.

Mariposa Marco Berger (Argentina)

A butterfly’s flapping wings divides Romino and Germán’s universe into two parallel realities: in one of them they grow as siblings who conceal their desire for one another; while in the other they are two youngsters who have an unusual friendship. Winning film of the Sebastiane Latino 2015 Award.

Montanha João Salaviza (Portugal/France)

A hot summer in Lisbon. David, 14, awaits the imminent death of his grandfather but refuses to visit him, fearing this terrible loss. The void already left by his grandfather forces David to become the man of the house. He doesn't feel ready to assume this new role, but without realising it: the more David tries to avoid adulthood, the more he gets closer to it... Selected for Venice's Critics' Week.

The Magic Mountain (Muntele Magic) Anca Damian (Romania/France/Poland)

The latest film by filmmaker Anca Damian (Crulic). In the form of an animated docudrama, the biography of Adam Jacek Winker, a Polish refugee in Paris, portrays a boundless life driven by the desire to change the world.

Psiconautas Alberto Vázquez, Pedro Rivero (Spain)

Teenagers Birdboy and Dinki have decided to escape from an island devastated by ecological catastrophe: Birdboy by shutting himself off from the world, Dinki by setting out on a dangerous voyage in the hope that Birdboy will accompany him.

The Show of Shows: 100 years of Vaudeville, Circuses and Carnivals Benedikt Erlingsson (Iceland/UK)

Benedikt Erlingsson, winner of the Kutxa-New Directors Award in 2013 for Of Horses and Men, takes us back to the days when the most outlandish, skillful and breathtaking acts traveled the world. In this film, rarities and never-before seen footage of fairgrounds, circus entertainment, freak shows, variety performances, music hall and seaside entertainment are chronicled from the 19th and 20th century with an original score by Sigur Rós.

Swap Remton Zuasola (Philippines)

Produced by Brillante Mendoza, Remton Zuasola's film tells the story of a young father torn between solving a crime and committing another when his only son is kidnapped and the only way to get him back is to kidnap another child in exchange for his life.

They join the Spanish productions already announced:

  • Un Dia Vi 10,000 Elefantes - Alex Guimerà, Juan Pajares
  • Isla Bonita - Fernando Colomo
  • Mi Querida Espana - Mercedes Moncada
  • La Novia - Paula Ortiz
  • The Propoganda game - Álvaro Longoria
  • Duellum (short film) - Tucker Dávila Wood

Read about the Official Competition selection.

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