San Sebastian Festival Unveils Female-Heavy Lineup for New Directors Competition

San Sebastian Film Festival - curtain raiser - Publicity-H 2018
Courtesy of Festival de San Sebastian/Montse Castillo

Eight of the 14 titles are directed by women, a significant number considering recent reactions to a lack of female directors in this year's Venice competition.

The San Sebastian International Film Festival on Tuesday unveiled the lineup for its New Directors competition, which comes with a hefty $55,718 (50,000 euros) purse for the director and Spain distributor of the winning film.

Eight of this year's 14 selected films are debut efforts, while the remaining ones are second features, several of whose directors have previously participated in San Sebastian. And eight of the films come from a total of nine female directors.

Last year's winner of the New Directors section was its youngest ever, 22-year-old Hiroshi Okuyama, for his coming-of-age tale Jesus. The first and second feature film directors also vie for a Youth Award selected by a jury of some 300 youngsters between the ages of 18 and 25.

Kim Sol and Lee Jihyoung are two young South Korean directors who will premiere their co-directed film, Scattered Night, about siblings facing how their family will be split after their parents' divorce.

Tunisia's Hinde Boujemaa brings Noura Dreams, about a woman facing divorce from her inmate husband who meets the love of her life. Bulgarian director Svetla Tsotsorkova previously competed in the New Directors section with her title Thirst in 2015 and now returns with Sister, a tale turning on the effects a teenager's lie has on a family.

Swiss director Delphine Lehericey premiered Puppy Love in the New Directors program in 2015 and this year brings drama Beyond the Horizon, set against a drought that destroyed the Swiss countryside in 1976. Meanwhile, Norwegian director Jorunn Myklebust Syversen's Disco turns on a young dance champion who takes to a radical church after collapsing in a competition.

Two previously announced Spanish titles in the lineup are also from female directors: Lucia Alemany's story about a teenager who wants to join the circus, The Innocence, and Jordi's Letters, based on director Maider Fernandez Iriarte's relationship with a 51-year-old man with cerebral palsy.

From Argentina, Ana García Blaya will screen her debut feature, The Good Intentions, a project that carried off several awards in the Primer Corte section at Ventana Sur, looking at how parental conflicts affect children.

Also from Latin America, Jorge Riquelme Serrano brings Some Beasts, a film about a family facing off for their own survival on a trip to a deserted island.

U.S. director David Raboy will premiere The Giant based on his own short film about a young women trying to put her past behind her, and British director of Moroccan descent Fyzal Boulifa's Lynn + Lucy is also based on a short film, The Curse, which was nominated for a BAFTA.

Lithuanian director Ignas Jonynas, who this year is bringing Nematoma, about a man who pretends to be blind to compete in a dance contest, won the Glocal in Progress award in 2013 with The Gambler. Japan’s Koichi Doi brings Bonfire at Dawn, the contemporary story of a father who educates his son in the ways of the Kyogen, a branch of classic Japanese theater.

Israeli director Oren Gerner, who competed in Cannes in 2018 with his short film Gabriel, will show his first full-length project, Africa, in which a retired engineer sets out on a silent voyage to reconstruct himself. Gerner won the Nest Film Students Award at San Sebastian in 2015 for his short film Greenland

The San Sebastian festival takes place Sept. 20-28.