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Blogging from San Sebastian September 17-25, 2021

Coverage Recap of 61st edition. Photo gallery 2013 Recap of 63rd edition, video I Recap of 64th edition, video I Recap of 65th edition, video / Recap of 66th edition /Recap of 68th edition, video



Sharunas Bartas, Naomi Kawase, François Ozon and Thomas Vinterberg to compete in the San Sebastian Festival’s Official Selection


Sharunas Bartas, Naomi Kawase, François Ozon and Thomas Vinterberg to compete in the San Sebastian Festival’s Official Selection

The debut by Dea Kulumbegashvili and the second film from Takuma Sato will also contend for the Golden Shell at the 68th edition


Established filmmakers including Sharunas Bartas, Naomi Kawase, François Ozon and Thomas Vinterberg will compete in the Official Selection at the San Sebastian Festival’s 68th edition, which will also screen the work of new directors such as Dea Kulumbegashvili and Takuma Sato.

Sharunas Bartas (Siauliai, Lithuania, 1964), an author with experience at festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, Venice and Locarno, has directed titles including Frost (2017) and Eurazijos aborigenas / Eastern Drift (2010), selected for the retrospective Eastern Promises. Portrait of Eastern Europe in 50 films (2014). In September he will return to San Sebastian with the world premiere of In The Dusk, a drama set against the backdrop of war portraying the struggle of the partisan movement against the Soviet occupation of Lithuania after World War II.  

Naomi Kawase (Nara, Japan, 1969), a regular at the San Sebastian Festival, will once again compete for the Golden Shell with the European premiere of Asa Ga Kuru / True Mothers, a new exploration of the family microcosm through the confrontation between two mothers: one biological and the other adoptive. The Japanese filmmaker previously competed in the Official Selection with Genpin (Fipresci Award, 2010) and Vision (2018), while her films have also screened in Perlak as well as in the themed retrospectives .doc – New paths of non-fiction (2010) and New Japanese independent cinema 2000-2015 (2015).

The young Georgian Dea Kulumbegashvili (1986), who premiered her short films at the Festival de Cannes and at the Directors’ Fortnight, makes her feature debut with Dasatskisi / Beginning. The film, which will have its world premiere at San Sebastian, narrates the harassment suffered by a Jehovah’s witness and her family at the hands of an extremist group and the police in their remote Georgian town.

François Ozon (Paris, 1967) is another of the filmmakers returning to this year’s Official Selection after winning the Golden Shell and the Jury Prize for best screenplay with Dans la maison (In the House, 2012) and competing with titles such as Sous le sable (Under the Sand, 2000), Le refuge (Hideaway, Special Jury Prize, 2009) and Une nouvelle amie (The New Girlfriend, 2014). The moviemaker, whose first work screened in Zabaltegi (Regarde la mer / See the Sea, 1997), will compete with Été 85 / Summer of 85, a tale of teen loves impregnated with 80s nostalgia.

The Festival will also host the world premiere of the second feature by Japan’s Takuma Sato (Akita, 1989) following Don’t Say That Word! (2014), winner of different accolades at Tokyo’s Pia Film Festival and at the Busan International Festival. His latest work, Nakuko wa ineega / Any Crybabies Around?, narrates the upset caused in the life of a man caught on TV cameras running through the streets drunk and naked on New Year’s Eve.  

Finally, Thomas Vinterberg (Copenhagen, 1969), one of the greatest exponents of Danish cinema in recent decades, will participate with the European premiere of Druk / Another Round, on which he once again works with Mads Mikkelsen, the actor he previously directed in Jagten (The Hunt, 2012). The author of films including Festen (The Celebration, 1998), programmed in the Cold Fever (2007) retrospective, portrays various teachers involved in an eccentric experiment: they believe that if they maintain a constant level of inebriation throughout the working day, they will open their minds and increase their creativity. 

In The Dusk, Asa Ga Kuru / True Mothers, Dasatskisi / Beginning, Été 85 / Summer of 85 and Druk / Another Round all belong to the list of films selected for this year’s Festival de Cannes, which was unable to go ahead with its 73rd edition due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In the coming weeks, the Festival will continue to reveal the remaining titles in the Official Selection of its 68th edition, which will open on September 18 with the screening, out of competition, of Rifkin’s Festival, a romantic comedy directed by Woody Allen.



The COVID-19 crisis

Now, after the easing of coronavirus restrictions in Spain, and in the hope that the pandemic will continue to ease, the San Sebastian has ruled out both cancelling the event and organising a standard edition continuing in the line of recent years.

Always focussed on the priority of observing the health requirements established by the authorities on the dates of the event, the Festival team is working to organise a 68th edition on the anticipated dates, from September 18-26. The objective is to produce a Festival in recognisable format, safe for the public, the film industry and the media.

The Festival executive has already taken a number of decisions: a reduction in the number of screenings (30% fewer), the online running of some of its activities (the Co-Production Forum, Zinemaldia & Technology, the round tables and masterclasses) and a mixed format (in situ and online) for the new WIP Latam and Europa sections, and for Ikusmira Berriak. The Festival will dispense with some of its usual venues, such as the Velodrome -setting of the morning screenings for schoolchildren jointly organised with the Donostia International Physics Center (which, exceptionally, will be organised online this year), the concert of film music given by the Basque National Orchestra and screening of the releases of popular films for the general public- and the San Telmo Museum, headquarters of the Co-Production Forum. It has also pushed back until 2021 the scheduled retrospective of Korean films from the 50s and 60s (Flowers in hell: the golden age of Korean cinema) and has cancelled the Klasikoak section for this year.

While the evolution of the pandemic will determine its final aspect, the Festival will maintain the physical attendance format of its remaining programme: the Official Selection competition, New Directors, Horizontes Latinos, Zabaltegi-Tabakalera, Perlak and Nest; Culinary Zinema, the selection of films accompanied by themed dinners, and Zinemira, Made in Spain and the weekend Movies for Kids. 





Asa Ga Kuru / True Mothers

Naomi Kawase (Japan)

Cast: Hiromi Nagasaku, Arata Iura, Aju Makita

After a long and unsuccessful struggle to get pregnant, convinced by the discourse of an adoption association, Satoko and her husband decide to adopt a baby boy. A few years later, their parenthood is shaken by a threatening unknown girl, Hikari, who pretends to be the child's biological mother. Satoko decides to confront Hikari directly.





Dasatskisi / Beginning

Dea Kulumbegashvili (France - Georgia)

Cast: Ia Sukhitashvili, Rati Oneli, Kakha Kintsurashvili, Saba Gogichaishvil

In a sleepy provincial town, a Jehovah Witness community is attacked by an extremist group. In the midst of this conflict, the familiar world of Yana, the wife of the community leader, slowly crumbles. Yana’s inner discontent grows as she struggles to make sense of her desires. 





Druk / Another Round

Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark)

Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, Magnus Millang

There’s a theory that we should be born with a small amount of alcohol in our blood, and that modest inebriation opens our minds to the world around us, diminishing our problems and increasing our creativity. Heartened by that theory, Martin and three of his friends, all weary high school teachers, embark on an experiment to maintain a constant level of intoxication throughout the workday. If Churchill won WW2 in a heavy daze of alcohol, who knows what a few drops might do for them and their students? 





Eté 85 / Summer of 85


Cast: Félix Lefebvre, Benjamin Voisin, Philippine Velge

When 16-year-old Alexis capsizes off the coast of Normandy, 18-year-old David heroically saves him. Alexis has just met the friend of his dreams. But will the dream last for more than one summer? The summer of 85.




fp_682858_21114.jpg class=mcnImage>

In the Dusk

Sharunas Bartas (Lithuania)

Cast: Arvydas Dapsys, Marius Povilas Elijas Martinenko

Lithuania, 1948. War is over, but the country is left in ruins. 19-year-old Untė is a member of the Partisan movement resisting  Soviet  occupation. They do not fight on equal terms, but this desperate struggle will  determine the future of the whole  population. At the age of discovery of life,  Untė discovers violence and treachery. The lines are blurred between the  burning  passion of his youth and the cause for which he is fighting. He will invest himself wholeheartedly, even if it means losing his innocence...





NAKUKO WA INEEGA / Any Crybabies Around?

Takuma Sato (Japan)

Cast: Taiga Nakano

A naked drunk man shows up on a national live TV in the middle of a sacred festival Namahage, where men dressed in ogre-like costume visit homes to scare kids not to do bad things in the next year. The man, young father Tasuku, gets ostracized for shaming the village and its tradition, flees to Tokyo by himself. After two years, he comes back to his hometown to make it up to his ex-wife and their little daughter, but the reality bites.



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About SanSebastian

Barreda de Biurrun Inés

Blogging from the 67th San Sebastian Film Festival
Reporting by Inés Barreda de Biurrun and Bruno Chatelin.

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