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The San Sebastian International Film Festival has unveiled the films for its 2021 New Directors sidebar, picking 13 titles from up-and-coming filmmakers — nine debuts and four sophomore efforts — from 15 countries to compete for the Kutxabank-New Directors Award at the 2021 event.
Canadian director Philippe Grégoire, well-known for his short films, will present his feature debut, The Noise of Engines, in San Sebastian’s New Directors lineup. The drama is described as autobiographical and is based on Grégoire’s experience working as a customs agent to cover the cost of enrolling at film school.
Turkish filmmaker Selman Nacar, helmer of the award-winning 2015 short Kuyu, brings his first-feature length effort, Between Two Dawns, to New Directors. The film is described as a drama focused on issues of conscience, family, and justice.
Fran Kranz’s directorial debut Mass, which premiered in Sundance, will have its international bow in San Sebastian. The drama stars Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton.
Other New Directors’ highlights this year include The Rust, Colombian director Juan Sebastián Mesa’s follow-up to this 2016 debut Los nadie, which won the Audience Award at the Venice festival’s Critics’ Week sidebar; Aloners from Korean first-timer Hong Sung-eun — a look at a woman whose life changes when her neighbor is found dead in his apartment — and Josephine, the first feature from Spanish filmmaker Javier Marco, whose last work, A la cara, won the Goya Award this year for best short fiction film.
Having participated in New Directors in 2017 with Tigre, the filmmaking duo of Argentine Silvina Schnicer and the Catalonian-born, Buenos Aires-based Ulises Porra, returns to San Sebastian with their follow-up Carajita, which traces the breakdown of the relationship between a young girl and the nursemaid who raised her.
Chinese filmmaker Sun Liang, whose first work Kill the Shadow (2017) was selected for Montreal and Shanghai, among other festivals, will compete with sophomore effort Lost in Summer, about a teenage boy struggling to deal with the confusion in his life.
San Sebastian Festival director José Luis Rebordinos, and the director of the Kutxabank Gipuzkoa Network, Ainhoa Arruabarrena, announced the New Directors line-up on Wednesday.
Only first or second feature films from new directors are selected for the section. All titles have to have been produced the past year to qualify and will have their world or international premiere in San Sebastian.
All New Directors titles will compete for the Kutxabank-New Directors Award, which comes with a $60,000 (€50,000) cash prize to be divided up equally between the film’s director and the movie’s Spanish distributor. Films in the New Directors section are also candidates for the TCM Youth Award, voted on by a jury of students aged between 15 and 18.
Earlier this month, San Sebastian announced the first films in its main competition, with new movies from Laurent Cantet (Arthur Rambo), Terence Davies (Benediction) Lucile Hadzihalilovic (Earwig), and Claire Simon (I Want to Talk About Duras) in the running for the festival’s Golden Shell for best film. Zhang Ji’s Chinese thriller Fire on the Plain will also have its world premiere in competition at the Basque festival.
Female directors are strongly represented in the competition this year. Claudia Llosa, winner of the Golden Bear at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival with The Milk of Sorrow, the first Peruvian film nominated for a foreign-language Oscar, will make her San Sebastian debut with Fever Dream, a drama co-written by Samanta Schweblin, author of the book of the same name.
Argentine director Inés María Barrionuevo will return to San Sebastian for the fourth time with her latest, Camila Comes Out Tonight; Romanian actress and screenwriter Alina Grigore will premiere her directorial debut Blue Moon in competition, and Danish director Tea Lindeburg’s first feature, As in Heaven, inspired by Marie Bregendahl’s 1912 Danish literary classic, has also been selected for the main competition.
The 69th San Sebastian Film Festival runs Sept. 17-25.
Here is the full list of San Sebastian 2021 New Directors films:
Carajita, dirs: Silvina Schnicer, Ulises Porra
That Weekend, dir: Mara Pescio
Aloners, dir: Hong Sung-eun
Between Two Worlds, dir: Selman Nacar
Inventory, dir: Darko Sinko
Josephine, dir: Javier Marco
The Rust, dir: Juan Sebastian Mesa
Hilda’s Short Summer, dir: Agustin Banchero
The Noise of Engines, dir: Philippe Gregoire
Mikado, dir: Emanuel Parvu
Mass, dir: Fran Kranz
Unwanted, dir: Lena Lanskih
Lost in Summer, dir: Sun Liang
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