Magazine article Screen International

San Sebastian 2017 Preview: Monica Bellucci, Todd Haynes and Its First TV Series

Magazine article Screen International

San Sebastian 2017 Preview: Monica Bellucci, Todd Haynes and Its First TV Series

Article excerpt

For its 65th edition, San Sebastian is embracing small-screen content while consolidating its bond with Latin American and European cinema.

Long a rendezvous for film lovers, be they local audiences or industry professionals and stars, San Sebastian Film Festival (September 22-30) is faithful to the formula that has kept its numbers growing: a programme designed to balance mainstream and arthouse cinema, the discovery of new talents and a touch of glamour.

September is a competitive month for international film festivals but San Sebastian’s director, Jose Luis Rebordinos, is happy to have found the key to programming his own. “One cannot always go for world premieres if this stops you from getting good films that can, instead, have their European premiere in San Sebastian,” he says. “There’s room for everybody. The same way that some films shown in Sundance find their way to Berlin, or attend both Telluride and Venice, we complement each other well with Toronto.”

This year, San Sebastian will open with Wim Wenders’ Submergence, starring Alicia Vikander and James McAvoy, and close with The Wife, directed by Björn Runge (Happy End). The official selection will feature James Franco’s The Disaster Artist in competition, alongside up-and-coming filmmakers such as Ivana Mladenovic with the Romania-Serbia-Belgium co-production Soldiers: A Story From Ferentari and Spain’s Antonio Mendez Esparza with Life And Nothing More (his debut feature, Aqui y Alla, won the Critics’ Week grand prize at Cannes in 2012). In a first for the Basque city’s festival, the line-up includes a TV series, The Plague, a Spanish production directed by Alberto Rodriguez (Smoke & Mirrors) and set in 16th-century Seville as the city reels under the epidemic.

In the footsteps of festivals such as Cannes, which also opened its doors to TV productions and VoD powerhouses, San Sebastian is changing with the times. Telefonica’s pay-TV channel Mo-vistar Plus is behind both The Plague and Verguenza, a romantic comedy-drama that will have its 10 episodes shown in the festival’s Zabaltegi-Tabakalera section. Netflix’s Bomb Scared, a feature comedy by Borja Cobeaga (writer of local box-office hit Spanish Affair) dealing with the topic of Basque terrorism, will also be screened.

“VoD is part of our present and future and you cannot ignore it,” says Rebordinos. “Both the industry and the different national legal frameworks will work it out, like they have embraced other changes in the past. It’s not a black-and-white debate. As a film festival director, I’m only concerned about offering the best films I can.”

Don’t miss

The 65th edition of San Sebastian will increase the number of masterclasses given by top industry names. This year’s guests include Todd Haynes, who will talk with his longtime producer Christine Vachon about their film Wonderstruck, which is playing in the Pearls sidebar. Haynes was president of the San Sebastian official jury in 2013.

Hot picks

The Disaster Artist, directed by, produced by and starring James Franco, is one of the highlights of the competition. The comedy about the production of Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 cult classic The Room, which is considered one of the ‘best worst films’ ever made, puts the cinephile experience firmly in the spotlight. …

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