The Seville Festival is again writing a discourse that goes beyond origins, genres and languages, but that clearly supports authors with unconventional approaches capable of surprising both audiences and critics. In this edition, Seville will be the meeting place to learn what is happening in European cinema, a place to enjoy the discoveries of 2017 and where, undoubtedly, new finds will be made.
So, a novel proposal and a film that breaks with all models will, with its world premiere, open The New Waves section: ‘Algo muy gordo’, a film project developed by Carlo Padial (author of the publishing success ‘Dinero gratis’ and director of ‘Mi loco Erasmus’ and ‘Taller Capuchoc’) as director and Berto Romero (regular collaborator with Andreu Buenafuente and leading actor in 'Tres bodas de más', 'Ocho apellidos catalanes' and 'El pregón') as writer and leading actor. They join a cast completed by Carlos Areces, Carolina Bang, Miguel Noguera and Didac Alcaraz to present a deconstructed comedy that uses post-humour to escape from a conventional discourse.
Following in this line, in its fourteenth edition the Festival reaffirms its commitment to exhibiting Spanish cinema and making it more easily available to spectators, incorporating it across various sections of the Festival. An example of this is the programming within the competitive Official Section of ‘El mar nos mira de lejos’, a first film by the Seville director Manuel Muñoz Rivas which had its world premiere in the Forum Section of this year’s Berlinale and which will be seen in Spain for the first time in Seville. With this non-fiction work, Muñoz Rivas makes his debut as director after having edited films as greatly acclaimed by audiences at this festival of European cinema as ‘Arraianos’ by Eloy Enciso or ‘Dead Slow Ahead’ by Mauro Herce, director of photography for Muñoz Rivas on this occasion. As is the case with other films in this new batch of Spanish cinema, ‘El mar nos mira de lejos’ is linked with the author’s cultural roots and surroundings. Muñoz Rivas takes his inspiration from nature, history and myths in order to establish a deep connection with his Andalusian identity.
In The New Waves, a section that brings together directors who work with new languages in contemporary European cinema, the presence has been confirmed of ‘Niñato’ by the first time filmmaker Adrián Orr who, after his award winning documentary short, ‘Buenos días resistencia’, goes back to those characters to create this feature film about a character who has trouble accepting his responsibilities as a father. Orr breaks the limits between fiction and non- fiction in this story full of subtle everyday revelations, humanity and bittersweet disillusion. This film won the Jury Prize in the Regard Neuf Section of the Visions du Réel Festival, and the Best Film Award at Bafici (Buenos Aires Film Festival).
On the international stage, the more veteran voices which, far from languishing, are in constant renewal, mingle at SEFF with new discourses which have burst on the scene in European cinema. Thus, French cinema in 2017 will be solidly represented by such directors as Claire Denis, Laurent Cantet or Serge Bozon.
Competing in the Official Section, Claire Denis breaks with the gravity of her cinema to present ‘Un sol interior’ (Let the Sun Shine In / Un Beau Soleil Intérieur), a film applauded at the Directors’ Fortnight at that last Cannes Festival and pre-selected for nominations for the EFA Awards. Accompanied by a cast that includes Gérard Depardieu, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Josiane Balasko and Xavier Beauvois, a luminous Juliette Binoche stars in this anti-romantic comedy that dismantles the clichés of the genre and looks at the search for identity, truth, fulfilment and the liberation of a middle-aged woman, based on the relationships she has with the men around her.
Also drawn to strong, independent, mature female characters, Laurent Cantet will be in the Festival’s Official Section with ‘El taller literario’ (The Workshop / L’Atelier). Featuring Marina Foïs, the film tells of a writer’s intense relationship with the students in her literary workshop, seven young people who, in some way, represent and synthesize the ethnic and religious diversity in France today. The director of ‘Human Resources’ and ‘Time Out’ recovers in ‘El taller literario’ the spirit of ‘The Class’, the film with which he won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2008.
Meanwhile, in the irreverent ‘Mrs. Hyde (Madame Hyde)’, Serge Bozon revises the classic of fantasy literature created by Robert Louis Stevenson. In this comedy, included in The New Waves, Bozon has again written the script along with Axelle Ropert, and called on Isabelle Huppert, one of his favourite actresses, to play the double character of a teacher whose confrontation with her adolescent students brings out her inner fire. This character won the Best Actress Award for Huppert at that last Locarno Festival.
Ten years after winning at the Gijon Film Festival with ‘Sehnsucht’, the German director Valeska Grisebach has returned to filmmaking with ‘Western’, the acclaimed third feature film by this director which, after being shown in Cannes, will have its Spanish premiere in Seville. The motifs of the western are used to talk of masculinity in the framework of social displacements. The two Europes, the coloniser and the colonised, confront each other in this story which is opting for the Lux Award and EFA Awards and invites us to reconsider the continent, to recover the cultural and natural roots buried under decades of economic struggle and to continue to hope in reconciliation.
The background of the economic crisis in Portugal will tinge stories at the Seville Festival this year, thanks to the first timer Pedro Pinho and the veteran Teresa Villaverde, exceptional representatives of the cinema in our neighbouring country. The documentary maker Pedro Pinho, sheltered by the filmmakers’ collective Terratreme, has seen his first fiction feature film become the revelation of the year in European cinema. ‘A Fábrica de Nada’ (‘The Nothing Factory’) has been a reference since it was presented at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, it is competing for nominations to the EFA Award and will have its Spanish premiere at Seville. The most political of the films competing in the Official Section, it proposes artistic action as a tool for intervening in the world, constructing a social cinema of protest, entrenched in solidarity and class consciousness. Meanwhile, ‘Colo’, the latest film by Teresa Villaverde, will be in The New Waves section. In this film, which competed in the Official Section at the 2017 Berlinale, the well-known Portuguese director offers an intelligent, dry, introspective family portrait which describes with Portuguese saudade the loss of reason and generational confrontation.
In the non-fiction competition, this year’s edition will also mingle mature discourses such as that of the German director Romuald Karmakar with the descriptive passion of young filmmakers such as the Turkish Ayse Toprak. Karmakar, in a comprehensive journey with such famous DJs as Ricardo Villalobos, ATA, Roman Flügel, Sonja Moonear or Move D, will show us the incombustible power of the German electronic music scene in ‘If I Think of Germany at Night’, a film which can be seen in Seville in collaboration with Barcelona’s International Festival of Music Documentary Cinema In-Edit. A sample of involvement, respect and commitment, Toprak will present in Seville ‘Mr Gay Syria’, an example of the amalgamation of cultures, identities and border realities that is Europe today. This Turkish film stirs consciences, analysing the difficulty of being a refugee and a Moslem in a European country, to which must be added that of being gay in present-day Islamic society.
Organised by Seville City Council, the XIV Seville European Film Festival, to be held from 3rd to 11th November 2017, will again provide a meeting place for directors from the whole continent and audiences to participate in the most recent history of European cinema..