The Seville European Film Festival (SEFF) is still announcing titles in the programme which will start screening on 6th November in the Seville capital. A series of films which includes the latest productions by the most renowned filmmakers on the continent, the films pre-selected for the prestigious European Film Awards and the most original viewpoints that have just reaped awards and good reviews at festivals like Berlin, Venice and Locarno.
The SEFF has announced the presence in the official section of Amos Gitai, one of the most acclaimed Israeli filmmakers in the world, with major retrospectives of his works in the Centre Georges Pompidou, in the MoMA and in the British Film Institute. Described as “the Israeli JFK”, Rabin, the last day is his latest film in which he mingles fiction and unseen archive images to narrate the assassination in 1995 of Isaac Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel who a year before had received the Nobel Peace Prize along with Yasir Arafat for their efforts in the creation of a Palestinian state. Gitai, who has openly criticized the present direction of his country in the conflict, makes a brave denunciation of radical Zionism in this fast-paced political thriller, with which he throws light on the causes of the encystation of hatred in a large part of Israeli society.
Another acclaimed filmmaker, the Italian Marco Bellocchio (director of the multi-prize winning Vincere and Good day, night), won the International Critics’ Award in Venice with Blood of my blood, an enigmatic story of conspiracy featuring a nun accused of satanic possession and a count shut away in life. With images that fluctuate between horror and beauty, this film, which begins in the time of the Inquisition and ends in the present day, reflects in a fascinating way on the perceptions of the past and the present. A new entirely free project by Bellocchio who, at 75, is still one of the most subversive personalities in European cinema.
The award for best new director at Venice and a spectacular cast endorses the directing debut of the young American actor Brady Corbet (Funny Games, Melancolía), with the British film, The Childhood of a Leader. The SEFF will offer the British premiere of this film which features such popular faces as Robert Pattinson, Bérénice Bejo (The artist), Liam Cunningham (Juego de tronos) and Stacy Martin (Nymphomaniac). With music by Scott Walker, the story is set in the period after the First World War and is based on the childhood experiences of some of the most terrible dictators of the 20th century.
Also competing for the Gold Giraldillo is the winner of the International Critics’ Award at the Locarno Festival, Suite armoricaine, the second feature film by Pascale Breton. The French director and scriptwriter revises her own life in this film where the protagonist, played by Valérie Dréville (La cuestión humana), returns to her home city to teach history at the university where she studied –the same one Breton attended in the 80s. An intimate story about the recovery of memory in which a fundamental part is played by the language, landscape and cultural identity of a characteristic region of France, Brittany.
The SEFF will be hosting the screening of a total of 20 films pre-selected for the European Film Awards (EFA) which will be announced on 7th November in Berlin. These include the ten titles chosen in the EFA Selection to compete for the award which is given by the audience at the Seville Festival through their votes.
Peter Greenaway is back. After several years searching and investigating, the illustrious Welsh director –winner of a BAFTA award for his career last year– has earned unexpected and unanimous applause from the critics for his latest film, whose premiere in our country will take place at the SEFF. Eisenstein in Guanajuato, set in Mexico during the ten days that transformed the life of the greatest classic Russian filmmaker, transports to the big screen the journey to Aztec lands by the director of Battleship Potemkin. Greenaway shows his adoration of Sergei Eisenstein in this delirious and personal anti-biopic, which competed in the official section at the last Berlinale.
More than a decade after winning his second Palme d’Or with The Son’s Room, the Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti again moves his audience with a family drama in Mia madre, winner of two David di Donatello awards –equivalent to the Goya. With a wonderful John Turturro (speaking in Italian) as co-protagonist, the film shows the way in which a mother’s illness affects family relationships, with Moretti’s unique stamp when combining humour and grief.
Pre-selected by France for the Oscars and an award winner at Cannes, Mustang is the surprising feature film debut by the Turkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven. Five orphan adolescent sisters hastening towards their destiny as future wives are the protagonists of this story, with echoes of The Virgin Suicides but viewed from a clearly feminist perspective, which portrays the oppressive demonization of sexuality in a remote village in Turkey.
The Icelandic director Grímur Hákonarson won the award in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes with Rams, the story of the reconciliation between two brothers, both shepherds, who haven’t spoken for 40 years, in order to save their rams. Hákonarson, an experienced documentary maker, shows his knowledge of Iceland’s rural landscape in this simple, charming film with comic moments of great subtlety.
Also opting for the Audience Award is Schneider vs. Bax, with which Alex van Warmerdam returns to the SEFF after the good reception given to his previous film, Borgman, best film at the Sitges Festival. The provocative, versatile Dutch filmmaker, who won the EFA’s Best Young Film Award, offers on this occasion a black comedy set in the middle of a contemporary western landscape, as unpredictable and amusing as some films by the Coen Brothers.
With his first film, No One’s Child, the Serbian director Vuk Ršumović won the Fipresci Award at the Venice Festival. In the film, a child reared by wolves in the mountains of Bosnia is sent to an orphanage in Belgrade and, later, back to a Bosnia at war. A captivating drama that takes elements from a true story about human nature and living with one’s wild side.
Produced by Lars Von Trier’s company (Zentropa) and selected for Cannes and for the Zabaltegi section at San Sebastian, The Here After is a rite-of-passage story full of tension that begins when an adolescent tries to fit back into the community where he used to live, after spending a period in prison. The Swedish director Magnus von Horn makes his debut with this film, premiered in Cannes, inspired by the police confession of a boy of 15 and his emotional disconnection because of the impossibility of assuming his guilt.
THE NEW WAVES
The SEFF continues to reveal the titles that will compete in The New Waves Section, which will include the premiere in Spain of some of the most transforming proposals in current European cinema.
Among them is the result of one of the most novel initiatives in this 12th edition of the Seville Festival, which has formed a group of Young Programmers aged between 14 and 16, as part of the European programme Moving Cinema. The members of this young team have selected for their screening the film Stubborn (Une histoire américaine), which portrays the tireless wanderings through the streets of New York by a Frenchman who has crossed the ocean to win back his loved one. The Young Programmers have valued the “unpredictable” nature of the story, “which reflects very well the extremes and the mixture of humour and drama”, and also the fact that it reflects “those actions that one person is capable of doing for someone else, to prevent love disappearing”.
The French director Armel Hostiou took a previous short film as his basis to conceive this irresistible and falsely naïve comedy. Filmed with a naturalness that includes several improvised scenes, the film stars Vincent Macaigne, also present in other notable titles like La chica del 14 de julio, Eden and Two Friends, which will compete in the SEFF official section.
Winner of three awards at the last Venice Festival, including the Special Jury Prize, Frenzy will have its Spanish premiere at the SEFF. The Turkish director Emin Alper –who already won the Best First Film Award at the Berlinale in 2012- tells the story of Kadir, who in order to obtain parole agrees to collaborate with the police, looking for the remains of bombs in the rubbish. With this hypnotic film, Alper elaborates a dystopia in which paranoid behaviour is the expression of a hostile socio-political system.
Miguel Gomes’ production company, O Som e a Fúria, has brought to the New Waves section the most recent film by one of the most imaginative exponents of the new Portuguese cinema, João Nicolau. John From is a sensual, dreamy story, in which the adolescent Rita spends a boring summer in the city, until she visits an exhibition on the South Seas and discovers that the photos were taken by a man who has just moved to her building.
The Slovak ex-boxer Koza –played by the real fighter– is the centre of the story in this homonymous film, with which Ivan Ostrochovský has been pre-selected for the Oscars. Far removed now from his days of glory and ruined economically, Koza is forced to make one last boxing tour, in this docu-fiction with great visual power which was shown at the Berlin Festival.
Lukas Valenta Rinner co-wrote and directed Parabellum, his first film, which was part of the selection for the recent Tiger Awards in Rotterdam. The Austrian filmmaker, sharing methods with compatriots like Michael Haneke, uses long shots and surgical precision when imagining an apocalyptic world that reflects the fears of present day Argentina.
The winner of the best direction award at Sundance, The Summer of Sangaile is a story of initiation about an introverted adolescent who, after meeting another girl her own age, discovers the value of sensuality. The Lithuanian director living in Paris, Alanté Kavaïté, has obtained a pre-selection for the Oscars with this sensorial, poetic film, in which the freshness of the two young protagonists is outstanding.
The SEFF is again having a Special screening section, which includes films out of competition but with enormous impact, directed by some of the greatest contemporary filmmakers.
Among them is Michael Winterbottom, director of 24 hour party people, In this world (Golden Bear at Berlin) and The Road to Guantánamo (Silver Bear at Berlin), among many other films. The SEFF will have the Spanish premiere of his latest film, The trip to Italy, the continuation of the hilarious gastronomic journey undertaken in the successful television production The trip (2010) by the actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, playing themselves in the midst of a middle-age crisis. On this occasion, both follow the steps of the romantic poets in this enjoyable, film-lover’s journey through Italian lands, with stops in the places where Gregory Peck, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman filmed.
Also being shown in a special screening is the latest film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, winner of the Palme d’Or and the Jury Prize at Cannes with his previous films Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives and Tropical malady, respectively. In Cemetery of Splendour, the Thai filmmaker explores dreamlike territories –without leaving his characteristic reality penetrated by the supernatural– with images impregnated by great beauty and emotion, in this film peopled by sprits, mediums and hallucinations.
Constructed totally from period archive material, A German Youth portrays the discontent of German youth in the tumultuous 60s, the perfect breeding ground for the birth of the Red Army Faction (Baader-Meinhof). The French director Jean-Gabriel Périot again offers an unusual, activist look at historic episodes of the 20th century, using the radicals’ own words to tell of the use the RAF made of cinema as a revolutionary weapon. Also, Périot’s inflammatory documentary reveals how great directors of the time (Godard, Antonioni, Fassbinder) became politically involved, through their work, in those years.