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Preview of the 53rd Official Section fromSan Sebastian


The official programme of the Donostia-San Sebastián Festival, scheduled for 15-24 September next, features a series of outstanding names from the moviemaking world who sketch a cinematographic portrait of our contemporary reality. While some of them regularly participate it the Festival, others are competing for the first time.


TIDELAND, Terry Gilliam, UK.
Terry Gilliam, to whom the Festival dedicated a retrospective in 1998, is still in fine fettle. This year he will present The Brothers Grimm at Venice and, at San Sebastián, the adaptation of Mitch Cili’s “macabre novel”, Tideland, about a solitary child who flees the reality of her harsh life on a Texas farmstead by inventing a fantasy world. In this, as described by its director “beautiful, sad, magical, amusing and excellent story”, little Jodelle Ferland features on the cast alongside Jennifer Tilly and last year’s Donostia Awardwinner, Jeff Bridges.

A COCK AND BULL STORY, Michael Winterbottom, UK.
A full retrospective of prolific British director Michael Winterbottom’s work was also organised at San Sebastián, while he competed last year with Nine Songs, winner of the award for best photography. He’s back this year with A Cock and Bull Story, another look at classic English literature after Jude and The Claim, both based on books by Thomas Hardy. This time Winterbottom’s reference is Laurence Sterne’s anarchic and until now considered inadaptable novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, converted into an amusing comedy faithfully reflecting the spirit of the work: a celebration of the marvellous and unfathomable chaos of life. A choral movie captained by actor Steve Coogan, already directed by Winterbottom in 24 Hour Party People (2002).

Danish director Per Fly carried off the award for best screenplay with Arven/The Inheritance, the second part of a trilogy on the social classes, the first part of which was Baenken (The Bench) (2000). While in this latter he showed an interest in the working classes, and in Arven/The Inheritance in the bourgeoisie, in Drabet he focuses on the middle-classes. This is the tale of a 50-year-old university lecturer in love with a young political activist involved in the circumstances surrounding the death of a policeman. For the lecturer this is the start of a new life. Starring Jesper Christensen, winner of numerous awards for his work in Baenken (The Bench), and Pernilla August, winner of an award at the Cannes Festival.

The director of Xizhao (The Shower) returns to San Sebastián after having won the 1999 Silver Shell for Best Director with Xizhao (The Shower). In Sunflower he sets a family’s life against a backdrop of 30 years, from the hard times of the Cultural Revolution to the economic boom of today’s China. Traditions survive alongside radical social changes causing more than a few contradictions. Starring among others the actress Joan Chen, winner of several awards for her film as a director, Tian Yu/Xiu Xiu (1998).

BANG BANG ORANGUTANG, Simon Staho, Denmark.
Simon Staho bursts into the official competition after having presented his previous two movies in Zabaltegi: Vildspor (Wildside) 1998, and Dag og Nat (Day and Night) 2002. His new film talks about the fragility of life and the power of love through the story of a businessman whose lifestyle is upset by a slight of fate. Starring his regular actor Mikael Persbrandt and Lena Olin, European award nominee for her supporting part in Chocolat and Golden Globe candidate for The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

ENTRE SES MAINS, Anne Fontaine, France.
The maker of Nettoyage à sec and Nathalie has found in Dominique Barbéris’ novel, Les Kangourous, perfect material for her peculiar manner of telling ambiguous stories, with a mysterious touch where desire and danger walk hand in hand. A woman not particularly delighted with life has a chance meeting with a seductive, attractive man in whom she discovers obscure areas that fascinate her. Starring oft-prizewinner Benoît Poelvoorde, who won the award for best screenplay at San Sebastián with Le vélo de Ghislain Lambert, and Cesar awardwinner Isabelle Carré.

ILUMINADOS POR EL FUEGO, Tristán Bauer, Argentina.
Tristán Bauer won the Technical Industries Films in Progress Award at last year’s San Sebastián Festival with the unfinished project for this movie, Iluminados por el fuego, taking a look back at the Falklands War. Twenty years after the tragedy, on learning about the suicide of a friend who, like himself participated as a soldier when both of them were barely 18 years old, Esteban, played by Gastón Pauls (Fabian Bielinsky’s Nine Queens, 2000) returns to the island to try and close this still-open wounds.

APRIL SNOW, Hur Jin-ho, South Korea
Hur Jin-ho, director of Christmas in August (1998) and of One Fine Spring Day (2001), both winners of prizes at various festivals and acclaimed by international critics, competes for the first time at San Sebastián with a delightful love story shunning all melodramatic topics and focussing on the characters’ intimate drama with enormous sensitivity and delicacy. A traffic accident causes a young boy’s death and leaves the other two occupants of the car in a deep coma. The spouses of the injured passengers –played by Bae Yong-joon and Sohn Ye-jin – discover that their respective partners were lovers. Meeting at the hospital, they join forces to face a problematic future.

JE NE SUIS PAS LÀ POUR ÊTRE AIMÉ, Stéphane Brizé, France. Also competing for the Altadis New Directors Award
This second movie by Stéphane Brizé after his 1999 Le Bleu des villes, prizewinner at Deauville Festival, is a tale of loneliness and hope in which a 55-year-old man convinced that his life has been a complete failure meets a younger woman, similarly convinced of the senselessness of her existence. Cesar awardwinner Patrick Chesnais and actress Anne Consigny bring life to this passionate love story to the sound of tango.

ODGROBADOGROBA (GRAVEHOPPING), Jan Cvitkovic, Slovenia. Also competing for the Altadis New Directors Award
In 2001, Slovenian director Jan Cvitkovic won the Lion of the Future Award at the Venice Mostra with his first movie Kruh in mleko (Bread and Milk) (2001). His second feature film is set in a little village where the hero earns a living concocting speeches for funerals. From there on the film proceeds to unfold a highly personal kind of humour on portraying an unlikely bunch including a man who refuses to speak, another one who continuously tries to commit suicide, love stories and the odd unusual tragedy.

The director of Nachtgestalten (Night Shapes), a great surprise at the 1998 Berlin Festival, and of Grill Point, Silver Bear in 2001 at the same Festival, competes for the first time at San Sebastián with this tale of two young girls from Berlin, friends and neighbours, who try to enjoy their lives despite the problems it brings them. Light of heart, with no dramatics but particularly tender towards the two heroines, the movie does nothing to conceal the melancholy of this portrait of an unknown yet familiar Berlin.

STESTY (SOMETHING LIKE HAPPINESS), Bohdan Sláma, Czech Republic. Also competing for the Altadis New Directors Award.
Winner of prizes at numerous festivals and from the international critics for his previous movie, Divoké vcely (Wild Bees) 2001, the young Czech director Bohdan Sláma tells the tale of three childhood friends. One of them works in a supermarket, dreaming of escaping to the USA. Another lives on a farm and dreams of it. The third lives with an irresponsible husband. Fate obliges the three friends to share their lives once again… But maybe happiness never lasts for long.

The following titles have now been added to the six previously announced:

OBABA, by Montxo Armendáriz from Navarre. Opening film.

MALAS TEMPORADAS, by the Spaniard Manuel Martín Cuenca, also competing for the Altadis New Directors Award.

EL AURA, by the Argentinean Fabian Bielinsky, also competing for the Altadis New Directors Award.

7 VIRGENES, by the Spaniard Alberto Rodríguez.

LA VIDA PERRA DE JUANITA NARBONI, by Farida Benlyazid, from Morocco.

SUD EXPRESS, by the Spaniards Chema de la Peña and Gabriel Velázquez.


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