San Sebastian Festival Adds Mati Diop, Takashi Miike Films

Atlantics stars Mame Sane as a young  woman in Dakar -EMBED 2019
Courtesy of Ad Vitam

Atlantics stars Mame Sané as a young woman in Dakar whose lover sets off by boat to find more opportunities in Europe.

The festival announced 19 titles for its open competitive section Zabaltegi-Tabakalera.

The San Sebastian International Film Festival unveiled the lineup for its Zabalegi-Tabakalera section, with a selection of films from around the world, including world premieres and Cannes and Berlin screeners.

Among the filmmakers featured in the lineup are Bertrand Bonello, Mati Diop, Takashi Miike and Diao Yinan. Of 19 films competing, 13 are feature films, one is a medium-length film, four are shorts (one animated) and one is a series.  

Zabaltegi-Tabakalera is called the festival's most open competitive section, with no rules concerning length, style, experience of filmmakers or genre. The festival calls it "a section embracing films that strive to find new points of view and formats, a real open and risky zone."

A jury appointed by the festival chooses the winning film of the section, which comes with $22,115 (20,000 euros): $6,635 (6,000 euros) for the director of the film, and the remaining $15,480 (14,000 feuros) for its distributor in Spain.

The selection will show several films that premiered at Cannes, including Jury Grand Prix winner Atlantics by French-Senegalese director Mati Diop, about workers from Dakar who decide to take to the sea in search of a better future; Bertrand Bonello's Zombi Child, which opens in 1962 in Haiti and continues in the French capital 55 years later; and Takashi Miike's First Love, a story uniting a boxer, a call girl, a bent cop and a yakuza; and Diao Yinan's The Wild Goose Lake, which pairs a gangster seeking redemption with a prostitute intent on recovering her freedom.

The selection also includes four world premieres: Andres di Tella's Private Fiction was inspired by letters written between the 1950s and 1970s by his own parents, one from Argentina and the other from India; Spain-based filmmaker Justin Weber premieres The Prosecutor, the President and the Spy), a six-episode series investigating the mysterious death of Alberto Nisman, a prosecutor investigating a terrorist bombing accuses the Argentinian president of colluding with Iran.

Spanish filmmaker Maddi Barber will screen Land Underwater, a medium-length film about the controversial construction of a dam at a reservoir that flooded several villages when it previously broke. France's Anthony Marciano premieres his third feature, Play, about a young boy who portrays a whole generation through his video camera.

Several films that screened at the Berlinale will screen in Zabaltegi, including Jean-Gabriel Periot's Our Defeats, a portrait of our relationship with politics through a game of re-enactment; Callisto McNulty's Delphine and Carole, which turns on the 1970s meeting of two feminists caught on video, actress Delphine Seyrig and artist Carole Roussopoulos; I Was At Home, But, director Angela Schanelec's tale of a mother whose son disappears without a trace for 10 days, previously won the Silver Bear for best director in Berlin; and the short Golden Bear-winning film Blue Boy about Romanian sex workers in the German capital, by Manuel Abramovich.

Also from the Berlinale, Denis Cote's Ghost Town Anthology is about a tiny Quebec town where strange things happen. Shakti, about a boy who decides to break up with his girlfriend on the day his grandmother dies, is by Martin Rejtman, who is also this year’s Nest Film Students jury president; and The Golden Legend, by Ion de Sosa and Chema García Ibarra.

Three more films round out the competition. They are: Isadora’s Children by Damien Manivel is about four women who come across the solo dance created by Isadora Duncan in 1913, following the death of her two children; Bird Island, from Maya Kosa and Sergio da Costa, turns on a young boy who rediscovers the world in a rehabilitation center for birds; and Giraffe by Anna Sofie Hartmann explores the perspectives of the workers and inhabitants of a geographic space that will never be the same again after the construction of a tunnel to join Germany and Denmark.

The San Sebastian festival runs Sept. 20-28.