San Sebastian announces New Directors titles

13 films vie for prize

by Amber Wilkinson

Mass Photo: Ryan Jackson-Healy
San Sebastian has announced the line-up for this year's Kutxabank-New Directors Award, which features 13 films from 15 countries. Nine of the films announced by festival director José Luis Rebordinos that will show at the 69th edition of the festival, which runs from September 17 to 25, are first works and the remainder are second films.

Established Canadian short filmmaker Philippe Grégoire will bring his debut The Noise of Engines, an autofiction based on his past experience working as a customs agent to cover the cost of enrolling at film school, along with Turkish filmmaker Selman Nacar, who earned last year's WIP Europa Award for Between Two Dawns, which focuses on concepts of conscience, family and justice.

Other first-timers, include Slovenian Darko Sinko, who brings Inventory, about a man who learns his life might be an illusion, and Korean Hong Sung-eun, whose Aloners follows the adventures of a woman whose life changes when her neighbour is found dead in his apartment.

Fran Kranz's debut Mass - which had its world premiere at Sundance and which charts the long-term aftermath of a school shooting - will also screen, along with Argentinian film That Weekend, directed by Mara Pescio, which was previously selected for the Co-Production Forum at San Sebastian Festival in 2017. The film narrates a mother’s reunion with her daughter after a long time apart.

Short film Goya award winner Javier Marco, brings Josephine, a story written by Belén Sánchez-Arévalo starring Emma Suárez and Roberto Álamo and Uruguayan Agustín Banchero will presentHilda’s Short Summer, a project selected for Films in Progress 36 (the programme now going by the name of WIP Latam) about a lonely woman who relives memories of a past summer. Rounding out the debutants is Russian director Lena Lanskih, also a short film veteran, who brigns Unwanted, charting the story of an adolescent faced with problems when she has an unwanted child.

Among those to present their second features in New Directors are the Colombian Juan Sebastián Mesa, who, after winning the Audience Award at the Venice International Film Critics’ Week with his debut, Los Nadie (2016), will participate with The Rust, a tale of rural identity conceived at the Festival de Cannes Cinéfondation residence and presented in San Sebastian’s WIP Latam (2020) and in the Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum (2017).

Romanian Emanuel Parvu, who has also worked as an actor with directors including Cristian Mungiu, Adrian Sitaru and Constantin Popescu, bagged the best director and actor awards at Sarajevo Festival with his debut, Meda or The Not So Bright Slide of Things (2017) and will now compete at San Sebastian with Mikado, a film about decisions, distrust and guilt.

Having participated in New Directors with Tigre (2017), Argentinian Silvina Schnicer and Catalonian Ulises Porra, who now lives in Buenos Aires, return to the section with Carajita, following the breakdown of the relationship between a young girl and the nursemaid who raised her.

The Chinese filmmaker Sun Liang, whose first work Kill The Shadow (2017) was selected for Montreal and Shanghai, among other festivals, will compete with Lost in Summer, about a teenage boy struggling to deal with the confusion in his life.

All of the films in this section compete for the Kutxabank-New Directors Award, which holds a purse of 50,000 euros distributed in equal parts between the director and the distributor of the film in Spain.

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