Following the path it has set out and the signs of identity that define it, the Official Section at SEFF shows the key works of the year in contemporary European auteurist cinema. There are sixteen film industries represented in this section.
The French director Philippe Grandrieux is presenting Malgré la Nuit, a phantasmagorical, pop trance, sensual and disturbing in equal parts, proof that he is one of the most fascinating filmmakers on the contemporary panorama. His compatriot Bruno Dumont will present Ma loute, a crazy comedy set in the 20s, which was part of the Official Section at Cannes. It stars Juliette Binoche and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. Another French director, Alain Guiraudie, winner of the Gold Giraldillo in 2013 with El Desconocido del Lago, again explores the complexity of the human being in Staying Vertical, with which he too competed in the Official Section at Cannes. Behind the Franco-Belgian film Une Vie there are two exceptional narrators: its director, Stéphane Brizé (Mademoiselle Chambon, La ley de Mercado) and Guy de Maupassant, whose first novel set in 19th century Normandy is adapted in this intriguing, elliptical film, which received the FIPRESCI award at the last Venice Festival.
Also competing this year in Seville we have the Oscar winner Andrea Arnold with American Honey. She earned her second Jury Prize at Cannes with this road movie, an electrifying flood of sensations peopled by anti-system characters. This is the British director’s first incursion into American cinema, with Shia LaBeouf as protagonist. The Bulgarian Ralitza Petrova is presenting Godless, a thriller that won the Golden Leopard at Locarno, a first film directed with a steady hand, it is a stark vision of the legacies of the old political regime still present today in contemporary Bulgaria. The Hungarian Szabolcs Hajdu daringly dissects the family institution (including his own, for he and his wife and son in real life play one of the main married couples) in It’s Not the Time of My Life, the winner at Karlovy Vary, the leading festival in the East. In Heartstone, the Icelander Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson tackles the loss of innocence in an intolerant environment, offering an exquisitely sensitive and credible look at adolescence, while the Polish Tomasz Wasilewski, winner of the Silver Bear for Best Script at Berlin, explores in the United States of Love the lives of four women who try to deal with sexual repression and unsatisfied loves.
The above will compete against other titles already announced in this section such as Mimosas, by Oliver Laxe; Solo el Fin del Mundo by Xavier Dolan; Amor y Amistad by Whit Stillman; Safari by Ulrich Seidl; Le Fils de Joseph by Eugène Green; Personal Shopper by Oliver Assayas; or Mister Universo by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel.
Five films are participating out of competition in the Official Section. These include the latest film by Albert Serra, La Muerte de Luis XIV, starring Jean-Pierre Léaud, with which the director won the prestigious Jean Vigo Award. Axelle Ropert will show his third feature film, La Prunelle de Mes Yeux, an eccentric, politically incorrect comedy with its sights set on Cukor and McCarey. Another French director, Paul Vecchiali, is participating with Le Cancre, a melodrama with musical numbers in which the director/actor will be “revisited” by all the women in his life, including Catherine Deneuve. Federica Di Giacomo presents Liberami, which won the Horizons award at Venice, documents real exorcisms contemplatively and with quite a sense of humour. The official section out of competition is completed by the winner of the Special Jury Award at Locarno, Corazones Cicatrizados (Scarred Hearts), by Radu Jude, based on the homonymous autobiographical work by the writer Max Blecher.
THE NEW WAVES
In the line of permanent dialogue between the different sections of the festival, along with the official section in competition, we heave the New Waves, one of the signs of identity of the Seville European Film Festival. Sixteen films make up this competitive section. Of particular note is Caroline Deruas who is presenting Daydreams, a warm, heterodox view of the world of writers who are looking for “a room of their own” in an artists’ residence. This film was selected by SEFF’s young programmers, who are participating in the programme ‘Moving Cinema’, to accompany its progress through the festival.
The Russian Kirill Serebrennikov will compete with The Student, which won in the section Un Certain Regard at Cannes and is prenominated for the EFA awards. Voir du Pays (The Stopover), from Delphine & Muriel Coulin, looks at the decompression of two women soldiers who have come back from Afghanistan. The French director Damien Manivel offers the dreamlike Le Parc, which Les Inrocks describes as "a miraculous work ", while Le Monde defines it as "a sparkling diamond".
The coproduction Albüm (Turkey, France, Romania) by Mehmet Can Mertoglu, offers an absurd comedy about a constant confusion, and was the winner of the top award in Sarajevo and of the Fipresci award at Jerusalem. In Dogs, (Romania, France, Bulgaria and Qatar) Bogdan Mirica develops a cynical thriller in rural Romania, which won the Fipresci Award in the section Un Certain Regard at the last edition of Cannes. The juvenile drama Fiore by Claudio Giovannesi, a coproduction between Italy and France, is participating in the New Waves Section and in Europa Junior with its story of impossible love in a minors’ centre. I, Olga Hepnarova (a coproduction between the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland) by Petr Kazda and Tomas Weinreb, is a fiction that examines the life of Olga Hepnarová, a 22 year old mass killer and the last woman to be executed by hanging in Czechoslovakia in 1973. The coproduction The Challenge (Italy, France, Switzerland), by Yuri Ancarani, offers a visual display that won the Special Jury Prize at Locarno. The already announced The Sun, the Sun Blinded Me by the brothers Anka Sasnal and Wilhelm Sasnal, In bed with Victoria by Justine Triet and The Dreamed Path by Angela Schanelec complete the New Waves section along with the Spanish films mentioned above.