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65th San Sebastian Film Festival
22/30 September 2017 - #65ssiff

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You are in: Home > 2018. 66th Edition  > Festival Diary > San Sebastian: 10 Takes on 2018’s Edition
Festival Diary » Industria
San Sebastian: 10 Takes on 2018’s Edition
Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

10 key points on this year’s San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival, the highest-profile film event in the Spanish-speaking world:


Could the tide be turning? San Sebastian signs a gender parity charter this Sunday. It also joins other events –Venice Days, Mexico’s Morelia competition– in having at least one major section with more titles directed by women than men: Its 2018 Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum. That makes sense. Screening finished films, festivals depend on women’s movies getting made. Highlighting projects furthers that. “We support ways for more women’s films to get made,” says San Sebastian director José Luis Rebordinos.


Danny DeVito, Judi Dench and Hirokazu Koreeda (Shoplifters) receive San Sebastian Donostia Awards. Flushed with success at Venice and Toronto, Ryan Gosling (First Man), Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born) and Robert Pattinson (High Life) also hail into town.


Five films by women screen in competition. In all, 34% of San Sebastian’ biggest section titles –competition, New Directors, Horizontes Latinos, the Forum and Films in Progress– are directed by women. Significantly, San Sebastian has also zeroed in on movies by genuinely exciting female talent from territories where young women directors are moving stage center, and making films which position women in very different places from the aspirational inter-class romance of yore: Catalonia’s Celia Rico (Journey to a Mother’s Room), Meritxell Colell (Duo) and Clara Roquet (Libertad); Mexico’s Lila Avilés (The Chambermaid), and Chile’s Pepa San Martin (Happiness).


Netflix has Roma in the Perlas bestof-the-fests section and has acquired Kim Jee-woon’s Ilang: the Wolf Brigade. Amazon Studios co-produces Felix Van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy. As Netflix produces movies by some of Spain’s highest-profile filmmakers – its third original feature, Isabel Coixet’s Elisa & Marcela gets a 5-minute sneak-peak at San Sebastian next Tuesday– that OTT presence will almost certainly grow, Rebordinos argues. “Netflix is producing movies in Spain. Who knows if next year it, or Movistar+, might have Spanish productions in competition?”


If there’s one trend among San Sebastian’s highest-profile titles, it’s the ever-deeper plunge into genre, whether Claire Denis’ deep-space set High Life, Kim Jee-woon’s futuristic actioner Ilang, Peter Strickland’s cursed dress chiller In Fabric. Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s propulsive political corruption thriller The Realm or Benjamin Nashtat’s period noir tale of covert violence, Rojo. As production volumes hold but theatrical arthouse audiences contract, even august name auteurs need to step up in scale to stand out in a crowd; thrillers in Spain allow Spanish filmmakers to maintain the anti-establishment ethos of Spain’s arthouse tradition while reaching out to broader audiences. The awaited The Realm is a prime example.


Near half the directors in competition –Schleinzer, Novotny, Garrel, Jacquemet, Naishtat, Sorigoyen, Vermut and Vera– made their solo fiction feature debut this decade. San Sebastian this year will in part stand or fall this year on how many of their films confirm them as international name auteurs.


13 of San Sebastian’s 18 competition segue from Toronto for a European premiere at the Basque resort. “Films need ever longer festival runs, but better and quicker promotion. One festival is just not enough,” Rebordinos argues. Sales agents would agree heartily.


Industry participants at San Sebastian should be slightly up on last year’s 1,621. Deals still go down before or at San Sebastian, whether sales agent pick-ups, or on Toronto hits or San Sebastian breakouts. But business is now energized by two newer factors: the festival’s build as a co-financing event, galvanized by its Forum; TV, with Movistar+ original series “Gigantes” and “Arde Madrid” world premiering at this year’s event. One of San Sebastian’s biggest industry panels will unspool today Saturday as directors and execs discuss new drama series.


Brillante Mendoza’s political thriller Alpha, The Right to Kill, Isaki Lacuesta’s brothers drama Between Two Waters and Iciar Bollaín’s Yuli, Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta’s origins story, all bow at San Sebastian.


Beyond the clutch of already-noted women’s titles, Markus Schleinzer’s Angelo and in parallel sections, Nataliia Meschaninova’s The Core of the World, Inés María Barrionuevo’s Julia and the Fox, and hard-boiled penitentiary thriller The Prince, are all generating good buzz. Garrel’s Truffaut-ish A Faithful Man sparked a bidding war among Spanish distributors, A Twelve-Year Night a reported 25-minute ovation at Venice. Koldo Almandoz’s Deer looks like one of the most notable titles from a building Basque cinema.


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© San Sebastian International Film Festival | Developed by: Yo Miento Producciones

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