The 14-title programme features family portraits and introductory films to life, with a universal appeal.
The spectators will grant the award to the Best Film of this selection, with a prize of 10,000 euros
Sevilla. october 9th 2020. The 17th edition of the Seville European Film Festival continues to add new elements to its program, this time with the creation of a new competition section. Under the name of 'Extraordinary Stories. Official Selection Special Screen', the competition offers a selection of fourteen titles, which will be screened in Spain for the first time, aiming for a type of cinema that is close, open and direct, starring well-known actors, which, in addition to the quality of the films, is designed to reach a large number of spectators. The audience of this section will be in charge of distinguishing the film that deserves the award for the Best Film of the Special Screen Official Selection, which is worth ten thousand euros.
The selection of titles in this new section deals with universal issues such as family, love, childhood and identity. A reflection of everyday life and what is feasible to identify with. One of the best examples of the type of films that make up this new section has the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as its backdrop: 200 meters by Ameen Naifeh a moving story about the distance, in this case physical and mental, that separates the protagonist, a Palestinian brought to life by Ali Suliman (seen in films such as Paradise Now or The Attack) from his wife and children. Winner of the Audience Award at the Giornate degli Autori of the Venice Film Festival, the film delves into individual resignations in favor of a family and those 200 meters of separation from the wall that separates the two territories referred to in the title.
Another border, in this case between Ireland and Northern Ireland, serves as the setting for Wildfire, Cathy Brady's vibrant debut in which she turns over autobiographical touches. The reunion of two sisters, played by Nora-Jane Noonan and the prematurely deceased Nika McGuigan, is used as an excuse to reflect on the weight of the maternal figure and the family secrets in an environment of warlike conflict.
The family is also the driving force behind El arte de volver, the first film by Pedro Collantes from Madrid, the only Spanish film competing at the Venice Film Festival and starring Macarena García, Ingrid García-Jonsson, Nacho Sánchez, Mireia Oriol, Luka Peros and Celso Bugallo. Here, Collantes' camera follows the life journey of an actress who returns home after six years of making a living in New York. Through her encounters with different characters (her sister, her grandfather, an old couple, friends from the university...) she builds the figure of the leading character, full of nuances and contradictory feelings.
The family is the axis of two other works presented in Extraordinary Stories but here with the gender identity as the main subject. Amidst comedy and generational portraiture awarded with the Big Screen Award in Rotterdam, in A Perfectly Normal Family the Danish director Malou Reymann tells her own story: when she was 11 years old, in the middle of a family meal, and in front of her mother and older sister, when her father announces unexpectedly that he wants a sex change.
The inner conflict of the transgender community and the new family models are also present in Laurent Micheli's Lola (Lola vers la mer). The film, nominated for a César for Best Foreign Film (representing Belgium), explores the identity of a young transgender girl who is rejected by her father, brought to life by Benoît Magimel, and with whom she must undertake a long journey to fulfil the last wish of her recently deceased mother.
Initiation and self-discovery
Children's and adolescents' viewpoints are also the protagonists of other titles found in this new section. For example, Notre Dame du Nil (Our Lady of the Nile), by Atiq Rahimi (The Patience Stone), awarded with the prestigious Crystal Bear at the last Berlinale, a film which anticipates the war in Rwanda through the eyes of several young teenagers from an elite Catholic institute where Hutus and Tutsis live side by side, completely isolated from the world, but where they will soon feel the pressure of the environment and the barbaric conflict to come.
Also a story of self-discovery: Make Up, by the London-based debutant Claire Oakley; which, on the basis of the hallmarks of British social cinema, evolves into an unexpected and disruptive turn of events with elements of thriller, sex and intrigue. It has been said that the film looks as a collaboration between Ken Loach with Brian de Palma and Nicholas Roeg.
Likewise, using different animation approaches, the selection of Extraordinary Stories offers titles that deal with childhood and adolescence being those vital grounds for initiation and self-discovery.
On the one hand, in Calamity: a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary, winner of the Best Film Award at the Annecy Film Festival, Rémi Chayé (Long Way North) brings to life the story of the well-known Calamity Jane, one of the most fascinating characters of the Far West, a woman who created her own legend. Rémi Chayé's dazzling color palette serves to delve into the gender roles of a genre as masculine as the western, but here acquiring a luminous and unknown dimension.
Also animated and awarded in Annecy is My Favourite War, a title that also contains autobiographical references to its director, Latvian Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen. In this Norwegian production, the author explores her own experience to reflect on the value of dissidence and personal beliefs in the context of the insurmountable mechanism of Soviet indoctrination. This title can also be seen online within the Instructions for a Burning World programme.
Partners and chaos
Furthermore, this section intends to take a closer look at relationships and to its intimate universe and vital components in situations that could be described as apocalyptic. On the one hand, the film Atomic Summer, by Frenchman Gaël Lépingle, is conceived as a story of survival in the face of a nuclear disaster of a couple who are expecting a child and are locked in a hut with their old friends. Soon, tensions erupt before an uncertain future. On the other hand, Ons, by Galician Alfonso Zarauza, takes us to the very heart of a couple in crisis that temporarily lives in a small island and who come across the survivor of a shipwreck. A story halfway between drama and mystery shot in a spectacular setting, the Parque Nacional das Illas Atlánticas, and starring Melania Cruz and Antonio Durán Morris. The SEFF will host its international premiere.
Art and life
In the diverse line-up of this section there are also two glances at the world of art based on real life: in The Man Who Sold His Skin, filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania draws a satirical fable that reflects on the limits of art, based on the odyssey of a Syrian refugee forced to accept a pact that turns his back into a canvas and his person into a museum piece. Monica Bellucci is in the cast and the film will be screened in Seville after winning a prize at Venice this year.
Yet another look at art and artists featuring a legendary filmmaker: Rainer Werner Fassbinder and his intense life form the core of Enfant terrible, a biopic that Oskar Roehler (The Elementary Particles) has shot about the iconic director of classics such as Querelle or Petra von Kamp's Bitter Tears. A film that features Oliver Masucci (known for the Dark series) in the skin of this great maker of the New German Cinema.
Finally, within the section but outside the competition, the documentary Billy, by Max Lemcke, a portrait of Antonio González Pacheco, better known as Billy El Niño, a policeman and representative arm of the Franco regime, will be shown through the testimony of about twenty victims and survivors of his crimes, never prosecuted in court.
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