Female helmers to carry flag for Spain at San Seb


Two of Spain's key female directors, Iciar Bollain and Gracia Querejeta, will provide the only Spanish films in the San Sebastian International Film Festival's official section, organizers said as they revealed the first titles for this year's edition.

Bollain, whose "Take My Eyes" was a San Sebastian favorite in 2003 and earned acting awards for Luis Tosar and Laia Marull, will see her much-anticipated "Mataharis" vie for the festival's top honor, the Golden Shell.

"Mataharis" stars Najwa Nimri and Tristan Ulloa in a detective story that leads beyond the thin line that protects the public from the private domain into the intimacy of their own secrets.

With "Seven French Billiard Tables," Querejeta follows her 1999 appearance at the festival with "Cuando vuelvas a mi lado," which won the directorial special mention and best photography nod.

"Billiard" is Querejeta's fifth feature and centers on a woman forced to rebuild her life after her father's death and her husband's strange disappearance.

Additionally, three Spanish films have been picked to screen in the Zabaltegi section. Max Lemcke's "Casual Day," a comic look at a work retreat's affect on life; Diego Fandos' astronautical analogy of a man without a country, "Cosmos"; and Tom Fernandez's homecoming-themed "La Torre de suso" will compete for the €90,000 ($110,000) Altadis-New Directors award for first- or second-time directors.

Rounding out the Spanish titles announced for San Sebastian are two documentaries and a special screening of Carlos Saura's music-film fusion "Fados." The first documentary is Aitor Arregi and Jose Mari Goenaga's "Lucio," about the anarchist Lucio Urtubia. The second is Omer Oke and Txarli Llorente's "Querida Bamako," a look at the harsh realities of an African man struggling to emigrate to Europe.

The San Sebastian festival runs Sept. 20-29 in Spain's northern Basque region.