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You are in: Home > 2021. 69th Edition  > News > Joanna Hogg, Radu Jude, Gaspar Noé, Kiro Russo, Laura Wandel and Jean-Gabriel Périot, among other filmmakers, to compete for the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Award
Joanna Hogg, Radu Jude, Gaspar Noé, Kiro Russo, Laura Wandel and Jean-Gabriel Périot, among other filmmakers, to compete for the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Award
The Festival’s all-ecompassing competitive section will include titles to have been awarded or programmed at Venice, Cannes and Berlin, among other festivals, and two world premieres

A total of 18 titles will participate: thirteen features, one medium-length film and four shorts
Thursday, August 19th, 2021

A total of 18 titles will compete for the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Award of the San Sebastian Festival’s all-encompassing competitive section, where any kind of style or length goes. This year thirteen features, one medium-length film and four shorts will compete, including works by Joanna Hogg, Radu Jude and Gaspar Noé. Several of the films selected come from festivals including Venice, Cannes and Berlin – including the Golden Bears for Best Feature Film and Best Short Film at the Berlinale. There are also works by filmmakers with connections to San Sebastian –Jean Gabriel Périot, Kiro Russo, Laura Wandel– for their participation in sections such as Nest and programmes like Ikusmira Berriak.

Kiro Russo, winner of the Nest Section’s First Prize and Orona Award with his short film Nueva Vida / New Life (2015), will participate in Zabaltegi-Tabakalera five years after screening his feature film debut, Viejo calavera (2016) in Horizontes Latinos. Following its premiere in the Orizzonti section of the upcoming Venice Festival, the Bolivian director will bring his second work to San Sebastian, El gran movimiento, developed at the Ikusmira Berriak programme with the title of La loba, the story of a sick worker who turns to a healer to save his life.  

Also arriving from Orizzonti is the latest work by the Slovak Peter Kerekes Cenzorka / 107 Mothers, a film combining fiction and non-fiction set in a prison for women in Ukraine. With extensive experience in the field of documentary films, the Slovak filmmaker is the author of works including 66 sezón / 66 Seasons (2003), Ako sa varia dejiny / Cooking History (2009), Zamatoví teroristi / Velvet Terrorists (2013) and Occupation 1968 (2018).

The film, theatre and TV director Kirill Serebrennikov will present the film with which he competed in the Official Selection at Cannes, Petrov’s Flu, about a man who lives his life on the border between fantasy and reality. This is the third feature from the Russian moviemaker, whose debut, The Student (2016), premiered in Un Certain Regard at the Festival de Cannes and who went on to compete for the event’s Golden Palm with Leto / Summer (Perlak, 2018).

Zabaltegi-Tabakalera has also programmed the winning film of Un Certain Regard at the Festival de Cannes, Razzhimaya Kulaki / Unclenching the Fists, a story set in northern Ossetia where a young girl tries to flee from her family’s asphyxiating control. This is the second feature from the Russian filmmaker, Kira Kovalenko, who made her debut with Sofichka (2016).

Un monde / Playground, an immersion in the school universe through the eyes of a little girl whose brother is the victim of bullying, is the first work by Laura Wandel premiered this year in Un Certain Regard, where she won the Fipresci Prize. The Belgian director had previously presented her short film Murs (2007) at different international festivals, including San Sebastian’s Nest section, while Les corps étrangers (2014) competed in the Official Short Film Competition at Cannes.

Another title retrieved from the French festival, precisely from the Cannes Première section, is Vortex, by Gaspar Noé, the tale of the relationship between two elderly people. The French-Argentine filmmaker participated in Perlak with Irréversible (2002), screened years later in 2009 as part of the retrospective Backwash: the cutting edge of French cinema, and was one of the directors of the anthology feature film 7 días en La Habana / Seven Days in Havana (Zabaltegi Specials, 2012).

The French festival’s Special Screenings saw the participation of Mi Iubita, Mon Amour, the feature directorial debut from the Parisian actress Noémie Merlant, who starred in Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Woman on Fire, Perlak 2019), by Céline Sciamma. Now, after filming the shorts Shakira (2019) and Je suis une biche (2017), Merlant directs and stars in the story of a woman who meets a man younger than herself while celebrating her hen party.

Arriving from the Cannes Quinzaine des Réalisateurs is The Souvenir: Part II, second instalment of the autobiographical story from the British director Joanna Hogg, author of films including Archipelago (2010), Exhibition (2013) and The Souvenir (2019), winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Festival. Her latest film is a portrait of the artist that transcends the halting particulars of everyday life - a singular, alchemic mix of memoir and fantasy.

Another competitor in the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs was Jean-Gabriel Périot, who presented his feature debut, Une jeunesse allemande / A German Youth (2015), in Zabaltegi-Tabakalera and won the award in the same section with the short film Song for the Jungle (2018). He has also competed in New Directors with the feature Lumières d’été-Natsu no hikari / Summer Lights (2016) and with Nos défaites (Our Defeats, 2019) in Zabaltegi-Tabakalera, to which the French filmmaker returns this year with Retour à Reims (Fragments) / Returning to Reims, using Didier Eribon’s text to narrate, with archive footage, an intimate and political tale of the French working class from the 50s until today. 

Coming from the last Annecy Animation Film Festival, where it landed the Jury Distinction, is La traversée / The Crossing, the first feature film by Florence Miailhe about two siblings who flee from the war and the persecution of immigrants. With more than three decades’ experience in animated short films, some of her works have landed awards at festivals such as Clermont-Ferrand or Cannes, as well as having received a number of French cinema’s César awards.

The Japanese director Kyoshi Sugita will present the film with which he won the Grand Prix and Audience Award at the last FIDMarseille. Haruharasan no Uta / Haruhara-san's Recorder, following a woman as she tries to recover from her partner’s suicide, is the latest work from the producer of titles including Hitotsu no uta (A Song I Remember, 2011) and Hikari no uta (Listen to Light, 2017), both presented at Tokyo Festival. 

The Romanian Radu Jude will present Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc / Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, the story of a schoolteacher who lands herself in hot water over a personal video with sexual content. The film carried off the Golden Bear at Berlin Festival, where the moviemaker had previously bagged the Best Director Award for Aferim! (2015). Among her other distinctions are the Special Jury Prize in Locarno for Inimi cicatrizate / Scarred Hearts (2016) and the Crystal Globe for Best Film at Karlovy Vary for Îmi este indiferent daca în istorie vom intra ca barbari / I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians (2018).

For her part, Olga Lucovnicova will participate with Nanu Tudor / My Uncle Tudor, the work earning her the Golden Bear for Best Short Film at Berlin Festival. The Moldovan director, who documents her own return to the home of her great-grandparents, is the author of short films including O crenguță de scoruș / One Little Rowan Branch (2016), Nu am, moarte, cu tine nimic... / I Do Not Hate You, Death (2016) and Nu e sfârșitul / It's Not the End (2019).

Hailing from China, Zhang Dalei will present Xia Wu Guo Qu Le Yi Ban / Day is Done, which also screened as part of Berlinale Shorts at the last Berlin Festival. The short film, following on from his previous Ba yue / The Summer is Gone (2016), opens when a young boy returns to his grandfather’s house.

In addition, Zabaltegi-Tabakalera will include two world premieres. On the one hand, the Catalan Laura Rius Aran, co-director of Les amigues de l'Àgata / Àgata's Friends (2015), will bring the medium-length Les filles du feu / My Friends and the Fire, the story of a reunion between five friends and continuation of her earlier short film, Millions (and Millions) of Memories (2018). On the other hand, the French / Italian filmmaker Lubna Playoust will screen with her latest short film, Le cormoran / The Cormorant, set in the house on an island where a mother and her son are shut away. 

In addition to all of these titles are the already announced Eles transportan a morte / They Carry Death, by Helena Girón and Samuel M. Delgado, and Heltzear, Mikel Gurrea’s short film. The feature from Girón and Delgado, an adventure story with a critical discourse towards colonisation, arrives following its screening at the Venice Critics’ Week. For its part, Heltzear, selected for the Kimuak catalogue 2021 and programmed for the Orizzonti competitive section of the Venice Mostra, tells a tale of beating the odds in a context of political violence.

A jury designed by San Sebastian Festival will decide the winning film of the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Award, coming with 20,000 euros: 6,000 going to the director of the film, and the remaining 14,000 to its distributor in Spain.



Radu Jude (Romania)
Country(ies) of production: Romania - Luxembourg - Czech Republic - Croatia
Cast: Katia Pascariu, Claudia Ieremia, Olimpia Mălai, Nicodim Ungureanu, Alexandru Potocean, Andi Vasluianu

Emi, a schoolteacher, finds her reputation under threat after a personal sex tape is uploaded onto the internet. Forced to meet the parents demanding her dismissal, Emi refuses to surrender. It's a film in three loosely connected parts: a walk in the city of Bucharest, then a playful essay on obscenities, all culminating, in the third part, in an incendiary comical confrontation.

Péter Kerekes (Slovakia)
Country(ies) of production: Slovakia - Czech Republic - Ukraine
Cast: Maryna Klimova, Iryna Kiryazeva, Lyubov Vasylyna

Lesya has committed a crime of passion which brings her a seven-year sentence in one of Odessa's women's correctional facilities. She has just given birth to her first child, and now she is entering a world populated only by women: inmates, nurses and wardens, women of all ages, wives and widows, daughters, sisters, pregnant women, and women with children too. If not for the color of the uniform, it would sometimes be hard to tell who is who.

© (c) socavón - altamar films
Kiro Russo (Bolivia)
Country(ies) of production: Bolivia - France
Cast: Julio César Ticona, Max Eduardo Bautista Uchasara
Ikusmira Berriak 2013

A symphony of the city in the heights, the illness of a worker, the nightmare and his redemption.

Helena Girón (Spain), Samuel M. Delgado (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Spain - Colombia
Cast: Nuria Lestegás, Sara Ferro, Xoán Reices, Valentín Estévez, David Pantaleón
Ikusmira Berriak 2014

1492. Travelling among the crew captained by Christopher Columbus are two men who should have been dead by now. They have managed to avoid their sad fate by signing up for the uncertain voyage. But on reaching the Canary Islands the men flee, taking one of the ship’s sails with them. Meanwhile, in the Old World, a woman tries to save her dying sister by taking her to a healer. Both journeys try to outwit death. Both journeys are at the mercy of time and history.

Kyoshi Sugita (Japan)
Country(ies) of production: Japan
Cast: Chika Araki, Minako Niibe, Takenori Kaneko, Saho Ito

Starting to work part-time at a cafe after quitting her job as a curator at an art museum, Sachi moves into an apartment recommended by a regular at the cafe. The whole renewal of her job and address is an attempt to overcome the suicide of her partner, Yuki, when they were living together. Yet, while Yuki can never be seen again, her image remains in Sachi's mind and the illusion still appears in front of her eyes.

Heltzear (Short film)
Mikel Gurrea (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Cast: Haizea Oses, Mikel Arruti, Oier de Santiago
Zinemira Kimuak

San Sebastian, the year 2000. The Basque conflict is ongoing. While writing a letter to her absent brother, Sara, a 15-year-old mountain climber, trains for the hardest ascent of her life.

Florence Miailhe (France)
Country(ies) of production: France - Germany - Czech Republic

A small village looted in darkness, a family forced to flee. The two oldest children, Kyona and Adriel are quickly separated from their parents facing the road of exile alone. They embark on a heroic journey which takes them from childhood to adolescence in search of shelter, peace and the hope of finding refuge and their family. Crossing a continent torn apart by war and migrant persecution, these courageous siblings survive incredible challenges.

Lubna Playoust (France - Italy)
Country(ies) of production: France
Cast: Mireille Perrier, Robinson Stévenin, Lubna Playoust, Anatole Karmitz

A mother and her son are secluded in their house on an isolated island where two moments of their lives will intertwine -youth and maturity- and where the bonds of their fragile but indestructible relationship are forged. 

Laura Rius Aran (Spain)
Country(ies) of production: France

Magdalena, Oriane, Anna, Solène and Morgane. It has been ten years since they last saw each other. When they were sixteen, they went together on a girl's trip. In a beautiful house, facing the sea. They went to the beach, drank a bit of wine, danced... And then everything burned.

Noémie Merlant (France)
Country(ies) of production: France
Cast: Gimi Covaci, Noémie Merlant, Sanda Codreanu, Clara Lama-Schmit, Alexia Lefaix

Jeanne is traveling to Romania to celebrate her bachelorette party with her friends when she meets Nino and her family. They are worlds away from one another, yet for the two of them it is the beginning of a passionate and timeless summer.

Olga Lucovnicova (Republic of Moldova)
Country(ies) of production: Belgium

After 20 years of silence, the filmmaker returns to the house of her great-grandparents, where she witnessed harmful events that left a deep imprint forever engraved in her memory. Her attempt to overcome the past contrasts with the long-awaited family gathering.

Kirill Serebrennikov (Russia)
Country(ies) of production: Russia - France - Switzerland - Germany
Cast: Semyon Serzin, Chulpan Khamatova

Post-Soviet Russia. A day in the life of the Petrov family during a flu epidemic. Affected by the disease, he is a delusional comic book artist. She is a librarian with a taste for killing abusive men. Beneath layers of the ordinary, things turn out to be quite extraordinary.

Kira Kovalenko (Russia)
Country(ies) of production: Russia
Cast: Milana Aguzarova, Alik Karaev, Soslan Khugaev, Khetag Bibilov, Arsen Khetagurov, Milana Pagieva

High in the mountains of North Ossetia the small mining town of Mizur nestles between the sheer cliffs. Following certain dramatic events, Zaur moved his children Ada, Akim and Dakko here. Zaur is a strict father who prizes discipline above all and doesn't feel the difference between care and overprotection. His eldest son, Akim, already escaped from his father to work in Rostov, the closest city to Mizur. His younger brother, Dakko, has yet to decide what he wants from life, and their sister Ada is actively planning her escape. She is a grown woman but her father still treats her as a baby. Ada will soon realize that it will be very hard to escape her father's embrace and begin her own new life. The return of Akim will illuminate the family's unspoken and unhealed traumas.

Jean-Gabriel Périot (France)
Country(ies) of production: France

Freely adapted from the eponymous novel by Didier Eribon, Returning to Reims tells in archives an intimate and political story of the French working class from the beginning of the 1950s until today.

Joanna Hogg (United Kingdom)
Country(ies) of production: UK
Cast: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tilda Swinton, Ariane Labed, Richard Ayoade

In the aftermath of her tumultuous relationship with a charismatic and manipulative older man, Julie begins to untangle her fraught love for him in making her graduation film, sorting fact from his elaborately constructed fiction. Joanna Hogg's shimmering story of first love and a young woman's formative years, The Souvenir: Part II is a portrait of the artist that transcends the halting particulars of everyday life - a singular, alchemic mix of memoir and fantasy.

Laura Wandel (Belgium)
Country(ies) of production: Belgium
Cast: Maya Vanderbeque, Günter Duret

Belgium. Nowadays. 7-year-old Nora and her big brother Abel are back at school. When Nora witnesses Abel being bullied by other kids, she rushes to protect him by warning their father. But Abel forces her to remain silent. Caught in a conflict of loyalty, Nora will ultimately try to find her place, torn between children's and adult's worlds.

Gaspar Noé (France - Argentina)
Country(ies) of production: France
Cast: Françoise Lebrun, Dario Argento, Alex Lutz

"Life is a short party that will soon be forgotten".

Zhang Dalei (China)
Country(ies) of production: China
Cast: Li Xuejian

Xiao Lei returns to his grandfather's house. It is still the same compound and family, but wrinkles have formed on his parents' faces. Xiao Lei, who is never without his nunchucks, has grown up. Life in grandpa's little house was always calm and slow; even the trivial daily routines between the family members are gentle and warm.

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