Official Section focuses on new filmmakers and European cinema

The line-up includes 10 first or second films plus 16 European productions/co-productions six of which are nominations fort the European Film Awards.  

The Valladolid fest will screen the latest films by Denys Arcand, Paolo Virzì, Margarethe von Trotta, Pablo Trapero and Gastón Duprat, as well as the recent work by Euorpean film auteurs like Matteo Garrone and Erik Poppe

09/24/2018.- The Official Section of Valladolid’s 63rd International Film Festival will comprise 19 long features in a selection with a keen focus on new film talent (including three first films and seven second films) and on European cinema: 16 titles in this official selection have been either produced or co-produced in Europe, whereas half a dozen of them have been shortlisted for the forthcoming edition of the European Film Awards.

The line-up features the latest work by a number of veteran filmmakers with a  strong attachment to the Valladolid Festival, like Margarethe von Trotta, Denys Arcand, Pablo Trapero, Paolo Virzì and Gastón Duprat, as well as pictures by other broadly-experienced directors who screen their work at Seminci for the first time:  Matteo Garrone, Erik Poppe o Miguel Ángel Vivas.

The Film Week’s major competitive section will for the first time show Spanish audiences the films The Fall of the American Empire (Canada), by Denys Arcand; The Quietude (Argentina/Italy), by Pablo Trapero; Notti magiche (Italy), by Paolo Virzì, and the already announced My Masterpiece (Argentina/Spain), by Gastón Duprat, as well as  the documentary feature Searching for Ingmar Bergman (Germany/France), by Margarethe von Trotta, the latter film out of competition. Other titles screening in the Official Section are Dogman (Italy), the latest film by Matteo Garrone (the acclaimed director of Gomorra); Norway’s   U – July 22, the sixth feature length by  Erik Poppe, and this year’s opening film Tu hijo (Spain), Miguel Ángel Vivas’s fifth feature, with José Coronado in the starring role. The Official Section will additionally show three first films in competition: Djon Africa (Portugal/Brazil/Cape Verde), the first fiction feature by documentary filmmakers  João Miller Guerra and Filipa Reis; The Guilty (Denmark), by debutant director Gustav Möller, and the already announced Jaulas (Spain), by Nicolás Pacheco.

Second films entering this year’s official selection are A Land Imagined (Singapore/France/Netherlands), by Yeo Siew Hua; Ága (Nanook) (Bulgaria/Germany/France), by Milko Lazarov; Genèse  (Canada), by Philippe Lesage; Border (Sweden), by Ali Abbasi; A Woman at War, (Iceland, Ukraine, France), by Benedikt Erlingsson; The Miseducation Of Cameron Post (US), by Desiree Akhavan; and The Reports On Sarah And Saleem (Palestine/Netherlands/Mexico), by Muayad Alayan. Both first and second films by new directors are eligible for the ‘Pilar Miró’ Award. Completing the Official Section’s line-up, In The Aisles (Germany) is  Thomas Stuber’s third feature-length.

The majority of these titles have been selected by American and European international film festivals where they harvested numerous awards. Moreover, six of them have been shortlisted for the European Film Awards to be handed over in December in Seville: Ága, Border, Dogman, The Guilty, A Woman at War and U – July 22.


The opening film

Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas, Tu hijo (Spain/France) tells the story of MD Jaime Jiménez (José Coronado), whose life  falls apart when his 17-year-old son, whom he adores and with whom he shares a wonderful relationship,  collapses into a vegetative state following a brutal beating after leaving a nightclub. When Jaime realizes that the police are not doing anything to arrest the offenders, he  embarks on his own descent into hell in order to claim revenge. The film’s cast also features  Pol Monen, Ana Wagener, Asia Ortega and Ester Expósito. Tu Hijo is a French-Spanish co-production by Apache Films, Las Películas del Apache, La Claqueta and Ran Entertainment, involving the participation of Canal Sur, Netflix and Orange and the support of ICAA and Andalusia’s Regional Government (Junta de Andalucía).

‘Tu hijo’, by Miguel Ángel Vivas


Films in competition

The second film by Yeo Siew Hua, A Land Imagined (Singapore/France/Netherlands) earned him the Golden Leopard at Locarno. Half-way between noir cinema and realist drama, it follows Wang, a Chinese immigrant who works in Singapore’s industrial area and suffers an accident at work. While waiting to be repatriated, he strikes up an online friendship that turns out to be more sinister than expected. Wang goes missing and a cop named Lok carries out an investigation that will involve a series of unexpected twists. Yeo Siew Hua studied philosophy at Singapore’s National University and is a member of the film collective 13 Little Pictures. He is the author of the experimental film In The House Of Straw (2009), the documentary  The Obs: A Singapore Story (2014) and the short films  Wormhole (2012) and The Minotaur (2016).

Ága (Bulgaria/Germany/France) tells the story of Nanook, a reindeer hunter, and his wife Sedna. Both live by themselves in a yurt on the northern snowy steppe, where they follow the traditions of their forefathers. However, their way of life is slowly yet inexorably changing: hunting is becoming more and more difficult, animals die for inexplicable reasons and  the ice sheets melt earlier every year. When Sedna’s health worsens, Nanook undertakes a long journey to reunite with his daughter Ága who, following a family quarrel, left the icy tundra to work in a diamond mine. This is the second feature by Milko Lazarov (Bulgaria, 1967) and earned him the Best Film award at the Sarajevo Film Festival.

The Fall of the American Empire (Canada) is the new film by the experienced  director Denys Arcand, who returns to the universe of his previous movies The Decline of the American Empire  (1986) and The Barbarian Invasions  (2003). This time the main character is  Pierre-Paul Daoust, a lonely delivery truck driver who holds a PhD in Philosophy from McGill University. His life takes a radical turn when he accidentally picks up to bags of cash from a robbery. Eventually he will use all that money in an unexpected, yet fully deliberate way. Denys Arcand (Quebec, Canada, 1941) returns to the Valladolid Festival, where part of his film work  screened in the past: his documentary Rejeanne Padovani was included in the retrospective of Canadian cinema during the Festival’s 38th edition; The Decline of the  American Empire entered the 31st edition’s Official Section; and  The Barbarian Invasions  won the 48th edition’s Audience Award.

Djon Africa (Portugal/Brazil/Cape Verde) tells the story of a young Rastafarian who lives with his grandmother on the outskirts of Lisbon and works in the building sector. He has never been to Cape Verde, where his family comes from, but a chance meeting leads him to travel to that country in order to reunite with his father, whom he has never met. The film first screened at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and is the first fiction movie by documentary filmmakers João Miller Guerra and Filipa Reis: the directorial tandem behind titles like  Triângulo (2013), Fragmentos de uma observação participativa (2012), Cat’s Cradle (2011), Orquestra Geração (2011) and Li ké terra (2010).

Dogman (Italy/France) is the new film by Italian director Matteo Garrone. Based on real events, the movie portrays the character of Lucio, a gentle dog groomer who  has a small daughter. His life is shaken by the return of Simoncino, a gangster who has just been released from prison. His sense of loyalty makes Lucio join Simoncino in a series of robberies until he is caught by the police and sent to jail away from his daughter. Starring Marcello Fonte, the winner of the Best Actor award in the latest edition of the Cannes Festival, Dogman is the ninth film by Matteo Garrone, the author of titles like Gomorra (2008) and Reality (2012), both awarded the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes.

In  Genèse (Canada), filmmaker Philippe Lesage resorts to an autobiographical voice in order to tell the story of three teenagers whose lives are  shaken by the experience of first love: one in which the stand fast and assert their right to love and be free. The main characters are Guillaume, a 16-year-old student  who is  in love with his best friend Nicolassu; his stepsister Charlotte, who feels disappointed in her relationship with a boy her own age called  Maxime and meets Theo, a man nearing his thirties; and Félix, whose feelings for his summer camp mate  Beatrice are now returned. This is the second long feature by Philippe Lesage, the author of his earlier The Demons (2015).

Border (Sweden) is the second film by  Iranian-born, Denmark-based Ali Abassi. In his latest movie he adapts the homonymous novel by the Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist. Tina, a customs officer with a knack for spotting smugglers, becomes obsessed with a suspect-looking man who has disembarked the ferry and proves unable to identify what he is hiding. Her inquiries take her well beyond her expectations  and soon lead her to terrifying revelations about herself and the whole of mankind. Border, the new film by the author of the unsettling  Shelley (2016), was this year’s winning entry at Cannes’  Un Certain Regard.

In the Aisles (Germany) is a film by  Thomas Stuber that tells the story of Christian, a shy and solitary man who begins to work at a supermarket. Bruno, the supervisor of the drinks aisle, takes him under his wing and quickly becomes a fatherly friend to him. Christian falls in love with Marion, who is in charge of the chocolate and confectionery aisle, even though his feelings are not reciprocated.  The winner of two outstanding collateral awards at the Berlin Film Festival —the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and the Guild Film Prize to the Best Director— In the Aisles is Thomas Stuber’s third feature after  Teenage Angst (2008) and Herbert (2015).

 Jaulas (Spain), is Nicolás Pacheco’s first feature film: a dark social drama starring Estefanía de los Santos, Belén Ponce de León and Antonio Dechent, and featuring the acting debut of Marta Gavilán and Manuel Cañada. Other cast members are Manuel Tallafé, Manolo Caro, Antonio Estrada and the Romanian actor Stefan Mihai. The movie tells the story of three women who leave the big city in an attempt to escape from a marginal environment ruled by male chauvinism and social backwardness. Produced by  Antonio Pérez and engaging a large crew of Andalusian film professionals, the film was shot in Seville and San Juan de Aznalfarache. It involves the participation of public broadcaster Canal Sur, Andalusia’s regional government, Spain’s  Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts (ICAA) and RTVE.

A Woman at War (Iceland/Ukraine/France) is the second feature by Benedikt Erlingsson. It focuses on the character of Halla, and independent woman whose quiet looks hide her parallel life as an environmental activist at war with the local aluminum industry. As she is planning her most daring action so far, she receives a letter that will change everything: her application for a child adoption has been accepted and there is a girl waiting for her in Ukraine.  Benedikt Erlingsson is one of Iceland’s most outstanding film, stage and TV actors and his performances have earned him many awards in his country. As a film director, he is responsible for the shorts Thanks (2007) and Naglinn (2008), the fiction feature  Of Horses and Men (2013), and the documentary The Show of Shows (2015).

My Masterpiece (Argentina/Spain) is the latest film by Argentinian filmmaker Gastón Duprat, who co-directed the 61st SEMINCI’s Silver-Spike winner The Distinguished Citizen. The film’s main parts are played by  Guillermo Francella, Luis Brandoni, Andrea Frigerio  and the Spanish actor Raúl Arévalo. In  My Masterpiece, Arturo (Guillermo Francella), the successful and good-looking owner of an art gallery, and the talented, yet declining painter Renzo (Luis Brandoni), have a sound friendly relationship despite their differing views. One day Arturo enters a partnership with Dudú (Andrea Frigerio) so as to re-launch his friend’s career. Halfway between comedy and melodrama,  My Masterpiece has been co-produced by the Mediapro Group , Arco Libre and Televisión Abierta, and screened out of competition in the last edition of Venice’s Official Section.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post (US) is the second feature film by  Desiree Akhavan, and earned her the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Festival. In the movie, teenager Cameron Post, who  lives with her evangelical aunt after losing both parents in a car crash, is sent to God’s Promise, a gay conversion facility, following her being caught with another girl in the back seat of a car on prom night. At God’s Promise she meets Jane and Adam and forges a deep friendship with them. Together they prepare an escape plan. Film director, producer, scriptwriter and actress, the Iranian-American Desiree Akhavan made her directorial debut in 2014 with the long feature Appropriate Behavior.

Notti magiche (Noch) is Paolo Virzì’s new comedy, featuring Ornella Muti and Giancarlo Giannini in the lead roles.  The film deals with the death of a famous film producer whose body is found in the Tiber and with the prime suspects: three young scriptwriters. The movie is full of cinephile references to the history of Italian cinema. Since he directed his first feature film  La bella vita in 1994, Virzì has been responsible for titles like  August Vacation (1996), Kisses and Hugs (1999), My Name Is Tanino (2002), Caterina in the Big City (2003), Napoleon and Me (2006), Every Blessed Day (2012), Human Capital (2014, David di Donatello Award to Best Film), Like Crazy (2016) (the winner of the Golden Spike, the Best Actress Award and the Audience Award at the 61st edition of Seminci) and   The Leisure Seeker (2017).

The Quietude (Argentina/Italy), by Pablo Trapero,  tells the story of two sisters who are reunited after a long separation  when their father’s health deteriorates. Together with their mother, they will be forced to recreate  the family’s sinister past splendour against the background of Argentina’s military dictatorship  and to face up to the present challenges. Widely regarded as one of the major representatives of Latin American cinema, Pablo Trapero made his directorial debut in 1999 with Crane World, which screened in the Official Section of Seminci’s 44th edition and received the Critics Award in Venice. Programmed and acclaimed in many film fests, his filmography includes titles like El Bonaerense (2002), Rolling Family (2004), Born and Bred (2006), Lion’s Den (2008), Carancho (2010), White Elephant (2012) or The Clan (2015).

The Reports on Sarah and Saleem (Palestine/Netherlands/Mexico), by Muayad Alayan,  is a psychological and social drama about the extramarital affair between Sarah, an Israeli woman who runs a café in West Jerusalem, and Saleem, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem who works as a delivery driver. Their respective spouses become aware of the infidelity after Saleem and Sarah  argue in public and the former comes under the spotlight of Israel’s security forces. This is the second feature film by  Muayad Alayan, who also authored Love, Theft and Other Entanglements (2015). The Reports On Sarah And Saleem received a Special Mention for its screenplay and the Hubert Bals Fund Audience Award at Rotterdam’s International Film Festival.

The Guilty (Denmark) is a thriller by debutant director  Gustav Möller. Police officer Asger Holm, who has been recently demoted and assigned administrative duties, receives a phone call from a kidnapped woman that is suddenly interrupted when the line goes dead. Confined within the police station, Asger is forced to use others as his eyes and ears in order to solve a crime that becomes increasingly murky. Since its premiere at Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition, where it harvested the Audience Award, the film has received numerous accolades in international film fests like Rotterdam, Stony Brook, Seattle, Montclair, Baltic Debuts and  Transylvania.

U – July 22, (Norway), by Erik Poppe, reenacts the events that took place in the Norwegian island of Utøya, near Oslo, on 22 July 2011. On that day, an extreme right terrorist attacked over 500 boys and girls who were staying in a Labour Youth summer camp shortly after setting off a bomb in the capital’s government quarter. Director, scriptwriter, cinematographer and photo-journalist,   Erik Poppe has so far directed the feature films  Bunch of Five (1998), Hawaii, Oslo (2004), Troubled Waters (2008), A Thousand Times Good Night (2013), The King’s Choice (2016) and the documentary Per Fugelli: Siste resept (2018).


Out of Competition

Searching for Ingmar Bergman (Germany/France), by Margarethe von Trotta, is a highly personal documentary where the German filmmaker recounts her intimate relationship with Bergman’s cinema ever since she watched The Seventh Seal, a film that won the main prize in the 5th edition of the Valladolid Film Festival in 1960. The film includes the testimonies of  von Trotta herself together with others by Liv Ullmann, Jean Claude Carrière, Carlos Saura, Olivier Assayas, Mia Hansen-Lovey, Stig Björkman and  Daniel Bergman, the son of the Swedish director. Margarethe von Trotta’s film career is both long and outstanding. After her debut solo film, The Second Awakening of Christa Klages (1978), she directed titles like  Marianne & Juliane (1981), Rosa Luxemburg (1986),  Rosenstrasse (2003) or Vision (2009). In 2012 she won the Silver Spike in the 57th edition of the Valladolid Festival for her film Hannah Arendt.

Posted in 63rd Seminci.