Tuesday 28 de October 2014

In this edition, the Seville European Film Festival has 17 films in competition in its Official Section which also includes, out of competition, the opening film, La ignorancia de la sangre (Tornasol - Maestranza Films), by Manuel Gómez Pereira, and the short film O velho do Restelo, by the veteran Portuguese director, Manoel de Oliveira. The festival has again opted for the balance between the big names of European cinema, whose latest works have captured the interest of the main international festivals; and the new voices and distinctive visions which make up the select spectrum of the most recent independent production, which includes the Spanish film El camino más largo para volver a casa.

Le meraviglie, directed by Alice Rohrwacher, arrives in Seville endorsed by the Grand Jury Prize at the last edition of the Cannes Festival. Coproduced by Italy, Switzerland and Germany, it shows the conflict between tradition and rural progress in Tuscany through a quiet, responsible 14 year old adolescent. The film is also competing in the Europa Junior Section and is opting for several European Film awards.

From Russia we have their nomination for the Hollywood Oscars: Leviathan, by Andrey Zvyagintsev (Elena, Golden Lion at Venice for The Return), winner of Best Script at Cannes. An extraordinary, horrifying film based on the Book of Job, which deals incisively with the evils ravaging present day Russia (alcohol, arms, religion and politics) and in which the biblical Leviathan is none other than the monster of power and corruption in a town by the sea..

Hungry Hearts, by Saverio Costanzo, is both a heady story of love, in its early stages, and a claustrophobic film that has earned comparison with Rosemary’s Baby. Its protagonists, Adam Driver (Girls) and Alba Rohrwacher –also present in Le Meraviglie- won the Copa Volpi for Best Actor and Best Actress at the Venice Festival for their roles in this film, which shows the most intense love that will be put to the test in the middle of the clamour of New York.

The smell of us is a French production directed by the controversial American filmmaker and photographer Larry Clark (Kids, Ken Park), the story of a group of Parisian skaters who kill time by skating and/or consuming whatever they can find and, faced with boredom and the perspective of easy money, start to work as escorts for older men and women via Internet. Offering a new variation on his obsessions, between a generational portrait and the cult to the adolescent body, Clark goes into the unfathomable deprivations and depressions in a certain section of Parisian youth in the XXI century.

Ruben Östlund brings to SEFF14 Turist, coproduced by Sweden, Denmark and Norway and one of the strongest competitors in this year’s festival. In the film, which won an award in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, a family is surprised by the false alarm of an avalanche at a ski resort. The mother protects the children and the father runs away, which prevents the tragedy but opens a conflict in the family and between the couple. This disaster movie without a disaster is a psychological thriller in which the distance taken by Ostlund (Play, Guitar Mongoloid) presents us with a tricky moral question while freezing a nervous smile on our faces. It is representing Sweden in the race for the Oscar.


This eleventh edition of SEFF will also have in its main section the last film by the late Alain Resnais, Life of Riley (Aimer, boire et chanter), an adaptation of the play by the British writer Alan Ayckbourn which tackles the subject of death with unusual vitality. The film which was shown at the last Berlinale –where it won the Fipresci jury prize-, presents an amateur drama group who, at the news of the imminent death of a companion, gradually learn about his love affairs: entanglements, dramas, fights and confessions follow on in his chaotic farewell to the world.

Also competing is La sapienza, de Eugène Green (La religiosa portuguesa), a Franco-Italian film, already seen in Locarno, about a successful architect who, faced with a creative block, decides to take a trip to Italy with his wife in order to study the work of Borromini, the great architect of the XVII century. There, they will have an encounter that will change everything.

The veteran French filmmaker Pascale Ferran (El amante de Lady Chaterley) takes amazing flight in her long awaited new film, Bird people. The film shows the two extremes of the social system’s pitiless chain: a top executive (Josh Charles, The Good Wife) and the maid in the hotel where he stays. The two sides of the same coin: the imperious need to break with alienation and start, finally, to live.

In Heaven knows what, the brothers Ben and Josh Safdie give a fictional account of the true story of Arielle Holmes, a 19 year old homeless heroin addict, who is also the protagonist of this independent film co-produced by France and the United States. Harley is the name of her alter ego, incapable of freeing herself from her drug addiction, and her attachment to a destructive love. A forceful film that doesn’t moralize, with “the emotional crudeness of Cassavetes and the dreamy despair of Garrel”, according to Andrea Picard, programmer of the Toronto Festival.

The Kindergarten Teacher, the latest film by the Israeli director Nadav Lapid, sets out in a very natural way several tricky subjects which reveal the contradictory values of this society. After her award-winning Policeman (Best Film and Best Director at Bafici and Special Jury Prize at Locarno), Lapid tells the story of Nira, a pre-school teacher who develops a kind of obsession with one of her pupils, a genius at poetry, and she decides to save him from the foolishness of his father and his nanny’s exploitation of his talent, even though this requires extreme measures.

Finally, Spain’s representative in the Official Section, in competition, is El camino más largo para volver a casa, Sergi Pérez’s first film, financed by crowdfunding and filmed in a fragmented way in 16 days over the course of a year. It is the new project by the collective Niu d’Indi, after the members’ time at ESCAC (Catalonia’s School for Film and the Audiovisual Arts) and it stars Borja Espinosa. The cast is completed by Miki Esparbé, Mireia Gubianas, Maria Ribera, Pol López, Sara Espígul and Silvia Esquivel.

All these titles are added to those already announced by SEFF14: Mr. Turner, the acclaimed film by the British director Mike Leigh, a portrait of the English maestro and precursor of Impressionism, starring Timothy Spall (Best Actor at Cannes); the very original Saint Laurent, directed by Bertrand Bonello, biopic of the French designer, not approved by his heirs, with Valeria Bruni, Léa Seydoux, Gaspard Ulliel and Louis Garrel; Misunderstood (Incompresa), the latest film by the also actress Asia Argento, which confirms the interesting career she is establishing as a director; the national premiere of the latest film by Roy Andersson, A pigeon sat on a branch reflecting on existence, winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Festival and the final film in the Swedish director’s existential trilogy; Amour fou, by the Austrian director Jessica Hausner; and Cavalo Dinheiro, the return to feature films by the Portuguese director Pedro Costa with which he won the Best Director award at the Locarno Festival.


The director Manuel Gómez Pereira (El amor perjudica seriamente la salud, Boca a boca) will bring a dose of genre cinema to open SEFF14 on its first day. La ignorancia de la sangre, absolute premiere at the Festival out of competition, is an adaptation of the detective novel of the same name by Robert Wilson, in which the best-selling American writer returns with his favourite character and setting, Inspector Falcón and the city of Seville, where the film was shot. It stars Juan Diego Botto, Paz Vega, Alberto San Juan and Cuca Escribano.

Alos out of competition is Manoel de Oliveira who, at the age of 105, has directed over 60 films since his debut in 1931. The veteran, prolific director comes to SEFF with the short film O velho do restelo, in which Don Quixote, Luís de Camões, Castelo Branco and Teixeira de Pascoaes meet in the garden of eternity and talk about the glories of the past in comparison with the uncertainties of future times.


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