Philippe Garrel, Tsai Ming-Liang, Hong Sang-soo and Peter Strickland, among other filmmakers, to compete for the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Award
The section will also host the premieres of the latest feature film by Juan Cavestany, as well as those of the shorts by Carla Simón and Dominga Sotomayor, Marina Palacio and Laida Lertxundi.
A total of 20 titles will compete for the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Award in San Sebastian Festival’s most open competitive section, which this year sees the participation of hallowed filmmakers Philippe Garrel, Hong Sang-soo and Peter Strickland, among others. Several of the ten feature films and nine shorts programmed landed awards or screened at the last Berlinale; however, there are also works which were to have participated in the cancelled Festival de Cannes and films which will shortly screen at the Venice Mostra and Toronto Festival.
Outstanding among the Spanish premieres arriving from Berlin Festival is that of the revered South Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo (Seoul, 1960) who brings the winning film of the Silver Bear for Best Director, Domangchin yeoja / The Woman Who Ran, where a woman takes advantage of her husband being away on business to visit three old girlfriends. Sang-soo previously participated in San Sebastian with Dangsinjasingwa dangsinui geot / Yourself and Yours (Official Selection, Silver Shell for Best Director, 2016) and Geu-hu / The Day After (Zabaltegi-Tabakalera, 2017).
Philippe Garrel (Paris, 1948), a key figure of French cinema in recent decades, will return to San Sebastian with the film he presented in the Official Selection at the last Berlinale. La sel des larmes / The Salt of Tears narrates a young provincial man’s exploits with several women in Paris. The French moviemaker, to whom the Festival dedicated a retrospective in 2007, Getting to know Philippe Garrel, also presented L’amant d’un jour / Lover for a Day (Zabaltegi-Tabakalera, 2017) and La frontière de l’aube (Zabaltegi-Specials, 2008).
Also included in the German competition was Rizi / Days, by Tsai Ming-Liang (Kuching, 1957), honoured with the Teddy Jury Prize for this film about two men who share each other’s loneliness. Winner of accolades on several occasions in Venice, where he won the Golden Lion for A qing wan sui (Vive l’amour, 1994) and the Special Grand Jury Prize for Jaio You (Stray Dogs, 2013), the Malaysian director living in Taiwan showed his first film, Qing shao nian nuo zha (Rebels of the Neon God, 1993), in Zabaltegi-New Directors.
Los conductos, following the adventures of a man escaping from the clutches of a religious sect, earned the Colombian Camilo Restrepo (Medellin, 1975) the GWFF Best First Feature Award of the Berlin Festival. It premiered in the Encounters section, where the Portuguese director Catarina Vasconcelos (Lisbon, 1986) carried off the Fipresci Prize with her debut A metamorfose dos pássaros / The Metamorphosis of Birds, recreating her own family past. The Trouble with Being Born, second work from the Austrian Sandra Wollner (Leoben, 1983) won the Encounters Special Jury Prize with a film starring a girl-android, while the Chinese filmmaker Song Fang (Nanjing, 1978) won the CICAE Art Cinema Award in the Forum section at the last Berlin Festival with her second film Ping Jing / The Calming, about the tribulations of a thirtysomething-year-old documentary-maker.
With experience at festivals such as Cannes, Berlin and Venice, Nicolás Pereda (Mexico City, 1982) will present, prior to its screening in Toronto, the international premiere of Fauna, a comedy on how violence has infiltrated Mexico’s popular imagery. Worthy of note amongst the filmmaker’s other works are Perpetuum Mobile (2009), which competed in Horizontes Latinos after having been selected for Films in Progress, and Verano de Goliat (Summer of Goliath, 2011), included in the season 4+1: Contemporary Mexican cinema.
A year after competing in the Festival’s Official Selection with A Dark-Dark Man (2019), the Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov (Djezkazgan, 1982) will return after participating in the Orizzonti section of the Venice Mostra with Zheltaya koshka / Yellow Cat, a film which will have its Spanish premiere in San Sebastian about two lovers who want to shake off their criminal past and open a movie theatre.
Also, as announced some weeks ago, Juan Cavestany (Madrid, 1967) will participate in Zabaltegi-Tabakalera with the world premiere of Un efecto óptico / An Optical Illusion / Interval, where Pepón Nieto and Carmen Machi find themselves trapped in a time loop.
Nine short films
Zabaltegi-Tabakalera also includes the screening of nine short films, one of which is directed by a filmmaker with proven experience in feature films. The person in question is Britain’s Peter Strickland (Reading, 1973), who will present Cold Meridian, a 6-minute film combining dance and oneirism. Strickland is the author of cult movies such as Katalin Varga (2009), which the Festival included in 2014 in its Eastern Promises retrospective; Berberian Sound Studio (2012); The Duke of Burgundy (2014), and In Fabric (Official Selection, 2018).
On the other hand, the Belgian Leonardo van Dijl (Kortrijk, 1991), who landed a special mention with Umpire (2015) in Nest, will show the result of Stephanie, a project which participated in the Ikusmira Berriak programme in 2017 about a 11 year-old gymnast under tremendous pressure. For his part, the Egyptian Sameh Alaa (Cairo, 1987) is the director of I am Afraid to Forget Your Face, following a man’s tortuous endeavours to reunite with his loved one. Both of these works were included in the official short film selection at the Festival de Cannes, which was unable to hold its 73rd edition due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The French filmmaker Naïla Guiguet (Vitry-sur-Seine, 1988) shot, over an LGBT+ evening of techno music, her professional debut in short films, Dustin, selected for the Semaine de la Critique in Cannes, while Pedro Peralta (Lisbon, 1986) is the author of Noche perpetua / Perpetual Night, a short film inspired by a real story that happened in the early aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in 1939. On the other hand, Bell Zhong (Shanghai, 1991) will compete with his latest short film, Huan le shi guang / Having a Good Time, shot after having worked as first assistant director under the orders of filmmakers such as Diao Yinan and Bi Gan.
Finally, Zabaltegi-Tabakalera will programme three short films of Spanish production which have already been announced: Correspondencia / Correspondence, looking at the exchange of audiovisual missives between the filmmakers Carla Simón (Barcelona, 1986) and Dominga Sotomayor (Santiago de Chile, 1985); Ya no duermo, selected for the Basque Government’s Kimuak programme, the debut by Marina Palacio (San Sebastian, 1996) after graduating at the Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola (EQZE), and Autoficción / Autofiction, an experimental piece by Laida Lertxundi (Bilbao, 1981).
A jury appointed by the Festival will select the winning film of the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Award, coming with 20,000 euros: 6,000 of which will go to the film’s director, and the remaining 14,000 to its distributor in Spain.