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New Directors at San Sebastian

Eighteen movies (three in the Official Section and fifteen in Zabaltegi-New Directors) will compete at the 52nd San Sebastian International Film Festival for the Altadis-New Directors Award, sponsored by Altadis and carrying Euro 90,000 (approx US$95,000).

Seventeen countries feature in this selection offering an overview of films with very little in common. Two Argentine movies and another from Colombia represent Latin American cinema. Europe is present with titles from Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France, Turkey, Norway, Ireland and the UK, not forgetting a Spanish directorial debut. The selection is rounded off with films from Burkina-Faso, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, China or Hong Kong.

Tales of families reflecting the social crisis via characters and situations familiar to us all; problems suffered by youngsters related to work and social uprooting; noir cinema in its different urban variations; political cinema; stories of love and relations...

A LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN. Xu Jinglei. China. Cast: Xu Jinglei, Jiang Wen.
To make her second movie as a director, actress Xu Jinglei (My Father and I, 2003) has decided to adapt Stefan Zweig’s novel, of which there already exists a splendid adaptation by Max Ophüls. Xu Jinglei’s Eastern point of view endows the tale of this unknown girl in love with a man who doesn’t know with a number of beautiful, sensitive and intelligent moments, tinged with the gentle sadness and nostalgia of a love that could have been but never was.

GEO-MI-SOOP (SPIDER FOREST). SONG Il-gon. South Korea. Cast: KAM Woo-sung, SUH Jung, KANG Kyeong-heon.
Having fainted and being found on a road, a young boy recalls having seen two corpses in a small house in “spider forest". Gradually he discovers the mystery concealed by the forest as the border between reality and the supernatural blurs. Second movie by one of the most brilliant directors of new Korean cinema, whose first feature, Flower Island, won the Award for Best Opera Prima at Venice Festival in 2001.

OMAGH. Pete Travis. Ireland-UK. Cast: Gerard McSorley, Michelle Forbes.
Written and produced by the director of Bloody Sunday, Paul Greengrass, this movie recalls the terrible terrorist attack which took place in Omagh on 15 August 1998, when a Real IRA bomb literally massacred innocent people in the city centre. The investigations of Michael Gallagher, who lost his 21-year-old son in the attack, is the thread of a tale turning into a denunciation of the political situation of the time.

IM NORDWIND (NORTH WIND), Bettina Oberli. Switzerland. Cast: André Jung, Judith Hofmann, Aiko Scheu
A story on the surface like so many others: the father works for a company, the mother is a housewife, the daughter a contentious teenager. The day on which the movie kicks off, the father loses his job. We then follow him through two weeks in his day-to-day life, observing how his recent unemployment affects his whole relationship. The distinguishing feature of this film is a solid, uncompromising mise en scène.

BEBA Y DORA (CAMA ADENTRO) (BEBA’S LIVE-IN), Jorge Gaggero. Argentina-Spain. Cast: Norma Aleandro, Norma Argentina.
Beba is a middle-class woman left with no money by the corralito bank crisis; Dora is the typical maid that Beba continues to treat with an iron hand despite the fact that she can’t pay her. Smart and amusing portrait of two women and two worlds representing the situation with their witty dialogues and perfect description, all based on the performance of two exceptional actresses.

EVILENKO, David Grieco. Italy-Russia. Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Marton Csokas, Ronald Pickup.
Grieco adapts his own novel, Il comunista che mangiava i bambini, in turn based on A. R. Cikatilo’s character, better known as “the monster of Rostov”, a serial killer who murdered, raped and devoured over 50 children during the late years of the Soviet Union. Starring Malcolm McDowell, the film is an X-ray of a demented character serving as a metaphor of the crumbling Communist regime.

FRÍO SOL DE INVIERNO (COLD WINTER SUN), Pablo Malo. Spain. Cast: Unax Ugalde, Javier Pereira, Marisa Paredes, Marta Etura.
Pablo Malo’s debut is a quasi-noir family melodrama told in personal key. An uprooted youngster fresh out of a psychiatric clinic sets off in search of the father he blames for his family’s problems. The travels during which he meets an array of characters taking him to Lisbon and the truth about his background.

IN DIE HAND GESCHRIEBEN (GRAVEN UPON THY PALM), Rouven Blankenfeld. Germany. Cast: Irma Schmitt, Hans-Peter Deppe, Klaus Lehmann.
While the situation starts out as a family drama: a married couple has to look after the wife’s father after a stroke, the story surprises as it unfolds and the woman, increasingly stressed by her demanding father and a brutal, insensitive husband, ends up taking a series of unorthodox decisions.

IN MY FATHER’S DEN, Brad McGann. New Zealand. Cast: Matthew Macfadyen, Miranda Otto, Emily Barclay.
Homecomings can be highly complicated. Paul, a war correspondent back in his country for his father’s funeral finds himself caught up in a situation where past and present mix in a family drama of unexpected outcome. A well-built movie employing different times to tell a tale of considerable ramifications.

INNOCENCE, Lucile Hadzihalilovic. France. Cast: Marion Cotillard, Hélène de Fougerolles.
Based on a short story by the author of Pandora’s Box (Lulú), this symbolist tale by Frank Wedekind, published in 1903, is set in an undefined place in space and time. The action takes place in a strange house isolated from the world inhabited by girls from seven to thirteen years of age. The arrival of a new student to this unusual school unveils some of the mysteries hidden within its walls.

JIANG HU, Wong Ching Po. Hong Kong. Cast: Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung, Shawn Yue, Edison Chen.
In the dangerous world of the Hong Kong underworld, two youngsters are given the chance of leaving their miserable jobs to kill a mafia capo. This is the first step in a long criminal career making them into powerful crimelords from which they are practically unable to escape, although one of them tries by creating a family.

KARPUZ KABUGUNDAN GEMILER YAPMAK (BOATS OUT OF WATERMELON RINDS), Ahmet Uluçay. Turkey. Cast: Ismail Hakki Taslak, Kadir Kaymaz, Gülayse Erkoç.
First movie by a Turkish director living in an Anatolian hamlet. Set in the 60s, this is the story of how their love for cinema drives two teenagers to build a projector in a stable while dreaming of becoming movie directors. A film as fresh and innocent as they come making the most of its extraordinary setting.

LA NUIT DE LA VERITÉ (THE REVEALING NIGHT), Fanta Regina Nacro. France-Burkina Faso. Cast: Mouss Cissé, Naki Sy Savane, Georgette Paré.
After ten years of bloody ethnic war, the Nayaks, the President’s ethnic group, and the Bonandés, rebels supporting Colonel Theo, are on the point of signing a peace agreement. But the reconciliation celebrations are overshadowed by the terrible barbarities committed by both sides. This young African filmmaker has no qualms about directly portraying the violence enclosed by the story.

PRÓXIMA SALIDA, Nicolás Tuozzo. Argentina. Cast: Dario Grandinetti, Pablo Rago, Ulises Dumont.
The closing down of a railway line leaves a group of workers out on the street with the obligation of learning how to recycle themselves jobwise. The difficulty of rebuilding their lives unexpectedly brings them closer to their children, who share their uncertainty regarding the future. They all seek a fast way out in which truth and lies, irony and pain, failure and victory intermingle in a night that will mark them forever. Próxima salida is participating at San Sebastian following its presentation at Films in Progress 5 (Toulouse, March 2004).

LA SOMBRA DEL CAMINANTE (THE WANDERING SHADOWS), Ciro Guerra. Colombia. Cast: César Badillo, Ignacio Prieto, Inés Prieto Saravia.
This movie, Films in Progress 4 Award from the technical industries, narrates an urban tale with two left-field characters: a silletero who carries people on his back for 500 pesos and a man with only one leg. The two strike up a friendship marked by the violence of a past still present in their lives.

UNO, Aksel Hennie. Norway. Cast: Aksel Hennie, Nicolai Cleve Broch.
Directorial debut by one of the most promising Nordic actors who reserves the leading part for himself. David lives in Oslo, his father is seriously ill, he has a handicapped brother and doesn’t get on with his mother. He works in a gym. His entire world does an about-turn the day his father dies and he is obliged to betray his friends. Thanks to this, however, David discovers the truly important things in life.

A WAY OF LIFE, Amma Asante. UK. Cast: Stephanie James, Nathan Jones, Gary Sheppeard, Dean Wong.
The hub of this ruthless movie is 18 year old Leigh-Anne whom, with a 10 month-old daughter and her three friends Robbie, Gavin and Stephen, scrape by with their down-and-out lives in a big city condemned to frustration and rage leading to a violent racial crime of which the victim is a young Muslim neighbour.

WILBY WONDERFUL. Daniel MacIvor. Canada. Cast: James Allodi, Maury Chaykin, Paul Gross, Callum Keith Rennie, Sandra Oh.
24 hours in the life of a small island city where nothing seems to happen. A full day in which a variety of characters come and go, acting as though nothing is amiss with a behaviour concealing anything but conventional secrets. A choral comedy tenderly treating its characters, played by a cast of excellent actors.

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