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‘La hija de un ladrón (A Thief’s Daughter)’, ‘La trinchera infinita (The Endless Trench)’ and ‘Mientras dure la guerra (While at War)’ to compete for the Golden Shell at the 67th edition of the San Sebastian Festival

The first work from Belén Funes, the new film by Goenaga, Garaño and Arregi, and the latest movie from Alejandro Amenábar make up the list of Spanish films competing in the Official Selection, where Daniel Sánchez Arévalo will present ‘Diecisiete (Seventeen)’ out of competition and ‘La odisea de los giles (Heroic Losers)’ by Sebastián Borensztein will have a special screening


Fifteen works with Spanish production to be screened in the most important sections of San Sebastian Festival’s 67th edition, to run from September 20-28, were announced in Spain’s Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematográficas.

Belén Funes (Barcelona, Spain, 1984) will compete for the Golden Shell with her first feature film, La hija de un ladrón (A Thief’s Daughter), starring Greta Fernández, Eduard Fernández and Àlex Monner. Funes, who co-wrote the screenplay with Marçal Cebrián, develops the story told in the short film Sara a la fuga (2015) winner of the Silver Biznagas at Malaga Festival for best short film and best director.

The team of Loreak (2014) and Handia (Special Jury Prize in 2017, Irizar Basque Film Award and winner of ten Goyas) will once again compete in the Official Selection. Aitor Arregi (Oñati, Spain, 1977), Jon Garaño (San Sebastian, Spain, 1974) and Jose Mari Goenaga (Ordizia, Spain, 1976) helm the story of La trinchera infinita (The Endless Trench), starring Antonio de la Torre and Belén Cuesta, about a man who hides himself in her house for fear of retaliation following outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936, only to stay there for the next 33 years.

The year 1936 is also the period chosen for the story told by Alejandro Amenábar (Santiago de Chile, 1972), who returns to the Festival after opening the event in 2015 with Regression. He has now returned to Spain to shoot Mientras dure la guerra (While at War), a film about the author Miguel de Unamuno (Karra Elejalde) and his stance towards the fascist coup d’état.

For his part, Daniel Sánchez Arévalo (Madrid, 1970) will participate for the first time in San Sebastian Festival’s Official Selection with Diecisiete (Seventeen). The film, selected out of competition, follows the tale of a boy played by Biel Montoro detained in a young offender institution and the relationship with his elder brother (Nacho Sánchez).

Figuring in the special screenings section is La odisea de los giles (Heroic Losers), by Sebastián Borensztein (Buenos Aires, 1963). Having previously put his name to Un cuento chino (Chinese Take-away, 2011) and Capitán Kóblic (Koblic, 2016), Borensztein once again directs Ricardo and Chino Darín, the actors and producers of this Argentine-Spanish co-production based on the novel La noche de la Usina by Eduardo Sacheri (author of the book providing his inspiration for The Secret in their Eyes), set in the period of economic restrictions, or corralito, suffered by the Latin American country in 2001.

The New Directors selection, with its first and second films, includes the debut films by two directors, La inocencia (The Innocence), by Lucía Alemany (Traiguera, Spain, 1985), who brings her first feature film about a young boy’s summer in the Tarragona region, and Las letras de Jordi (Jordi’s Letters), by Maider Fernández Iriarte (San Sebastian, Spain, 1988), a project developed in the Ikusmira Berriak residencies programme, winner of the REC Grabaketa Estudioa post-production award in 2017, focussing on the relationship of the film’s director with a 51 year-old man who has cerebral palsy.

Two series, two shorts and a medium-length film
In addition, Zabaltegi-Tabakalera will see the world premiere of the 6-episode series El fiscal, la presidenta y el espía (The Prosecutor, The President and The Spy), the investigation into the Nisman case by Justin Webster (Aldershot, UK, 1963), the director of Muerte en León (2016) and El fin de ETA (Zinemira 2016). Also screened will be the medium-length film by Maddi Barber (Lakabe, Spain, 1988), Urpean lurra, who was selected last year with the short film 592 metroz goiti. Returning to the competition is Chema García Ibarra (Elche, Spain, 1980) with Leyenda dorada (The Golden Legend) – co-directed with Ion de Sosa (Urnieta, Spain, 1981), who in 2016 landed a special mention for La disco resplandece. For Izibene Oñederra (Azkoitia, Spain, 1979), the selection of Lursaguak / Escenas de vida is her third participation in the Festival, following Hortzanak, For Your Own Safety (2013), also shown in Zabaltegi and one of the pieces of Kalebegiak (2016), which screened at the Velodrome. Both Leyenda dorada (The Golden Legend) and Lursaguak / Escenas de vida are part of the harvest corresponding to the 2019 edition of Kimuak, the Basque Government’s short film programme.  

In the Perlak section, following its screening in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, where it carried off the Jury Prize and the award for the best sound-creation, we will present O que arde / Fire Will Come, by Oliver Laxe (Paris, 1982), the tale of a man (Amador Arias) who is released from prison and goes home to live with his mother (Benedicta Sánchez) in rural Galicia.

The Velodrome will house the premiere of the complete series of Vida perfecta / Perfect Life, directed by Leticia Dolera (Barcelona, Spain, 1981), who had formerly made several short films and the feature Requisitos para una persona normal (Made in Spain 2015). With the screening of its first two episodes, Perfect Life won the prize for best series at the Canneseries Festival and the special performance award for Dolera herself, Aixa Villagrán and Celia Freijeiro, the trio of women who are faced with the impossibility of living the perfect life according to the social standards. The cinema with seating for 3,000 spectators will also be the setting for presentation of the animated movie La gallina Turuleca (Turu, The Wacky Hen), the feature directorial debut of Víctor Monigote and the second by Eduardo Gondell.

Lastly, the RTVE Gala will feature the presentation of Adiós, marking the return to Spanish cinema of Paco Cabezas (Seville, Spain, 1976), after having directed series in North America including Penny Dreadful and American Gods. In Adiós, starring Mario Casas, Natalia de Molina, Ruth Díaz and Carlos Bardem, Seville is the setting for a thriller serving up a combination of police corruption and drug trafficking.

- OFFICIAL SELECTION - In competition

LA HIJA DE UN LADRóN (A THIEF’S DAUGHTER)Belén Funes  (Spain)Cast: Greta Fernández, Eduard Fernández, Àlex Monner, Tomás Martín

Sara has been alone all her life. She’s 22, has a baby, and wants to form a normal family with her young brother and the father of her child. Her own father, Manuel, decides to come back into their lives after years of absence and his release from prison. Sara knows he’s the main obstacle to her plans and she makes a difficult decision: to distance him from herself and her brother. Debut film.

LA TRINCHERA INFINITA (THE ENDLESS TRENCH)Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño, Jose Mari Goenaga  (Spain - France)Cast: Antonio de la Torre, Belén Cuesta

Higinio and Rosa have only been married for a few months when the Civil War breaks out, representing a serious threat to his life. Helped by his wife, they decide to use a hole dug into their own home as a provisional hiding place. The fear of potential reprisals and the love they feel for one another will condemn them to an imprisonment that will last for more than 30 years.

MIENTRAS DURE LA GUERRA (WHILE AT WAR)Alejandro Amenábar  (Spain - Argentina)Cast: Karra Elejalde, Eduard Fernández, Santi Prego

Spain. Summer 1936. The famous writer Miguel de Unamuno decides to publicly support the military coup which promises to bring order to the tumultuous situation in the country. He is immediately removed from office as dean of Salamanca University by the Republican government. Meanwhile, General Franco succeeds in appending his troops to the rebellious front and launches a successful campaign in the secret hope of gaining sole command of the war. The bloody continuation of the conflict and the imprisonment of some of his colleagues leads Unamuno to question his initial stance and to reconsider his principles. When Franco moves his headquarters to Salamanca and is named Head of State of the nationalist zone, Unamuno will head to his Palace, determined to beg him for clemency.

OFFICIAL SELECTION - Not in competition

DIECISIETE (SEVENTEEN)Daniel Sánchez Arévalo  (Spain)Cast: Biel Montoro, Nacho Sánchez, Lola CordónNot in competition

As part of the rehabilitation program at a juvenile detention center, 17-year-old Hector creates an unbreakable bond with a dog as timid and aloof as him. When the therapy dog is suddenly adopted and doesn’t return, Hector escapes to look for him. And so, an unexpected journey begins in the company of his older brother Ismael, their grandmother Cuca, two dogs, a cow and other animals.

- OFFICIAL SELECTION - Special Screenings

LA ODISEA DE LOS GILES (HEROIC LOSERS)Sebastián Borensztein  (Argentina - Spain)Cast: Ricardo Darín, Luis Brandoni, Chino DarínSpecial Screenings

In Argentina, the term gil refers to a good, naïve and rather unwary person, like the group of inhabitants from a town in the Buenos Aires region who decide to place all their savings in a bank to create an agricultural cooperative which, they believe, will change their fate. However, the victims of a racket, they lose all their money. Led by Perlassi, a local football legend, the eight giles decide that this time they’ll take the law into their own hands in what will be the most legendary night of their lives.

LA INOCENCIA (THE INNOCENCE)Lucía Alemany  (Spain)Cast: Carmen Arrufat, Laia Marull, Sergi López, Joel Bosqued

Lis is a teenager whose dream is to become a circus artist and leave her hometown, even if she knows that to do it she’ll have to fight her side against her parents. It’s summer and Lis spends her days playing with her friends and flirting with her boyfriend, a few years older than herself. The lack of privacy and the neighbours’ gossip force Lis to keep their relationship secret so that her parents won’t find out. But the idyllic summer comes to an end, and in autumn Lis discovers she’s pregnant. Debut film.

LAS LETRAS DE JORDI (JORDI’S LETTERS)Maider Fernandez Iriarte  (Spain)

Jordi was born 51 years ago with cerebral palsy. Although he can’t speak, he tries to communicate using his letter chart. That’s how he tells Maider, the director of the film, that at the age of 21 he felt God talking to him for the first time. But today, now that he has moved out of his parent’s house into a home, he no longer feels God. Once a year, Jordi makes a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, where he searches for his connection with God, despite not knowing if God will come back one day. Debut film. Project developed as part of the Ikusmira Berriak residencies programme. REC Grabaketa Estudioa Post-Production Award.



A prosecutor investigating a terrorist bombing accuses the Argentinian president of colluding with Iran. Four days later he is found dead in his bathroom with a single shot to the head. Alberto Nisman died in Buenos Aires, but the shockwaves of this mysterious murder, or suicide, spread across the globe to Israel, Iran and the United States. 6-episode series.

LEYENDA DORADA (THE GOLDEN LEGEND) =11px (Short film)Ion de Sosa, Chema García Ibarra  (Spain)Cast: Al Sarcoli, Cristina Canchal, María Ángeles Rosco, Carlos Lebrón Lázaro, Laura Molano Canchal, David Pavón Gómez

A summer day in the municipal swimming pool: heat, teenagers, families, couples, dips, beers and sandwiches in the bar. An adolescent medium tries to locate someone by moving a pendulum over a map of Spain. In the midst of the ordinary goings on something extraordinary happens: a boy on the verge of drowning is saved by a person who walks on the water of the pool to get to him. The miracle is accepted naturally by the other bathers and the summer afternoon continues as if nothing had happened. Selected for Berlinale Shorts.

LURSAGUAK / ESCENAS DE VIDA =11px (Short film)Izibene Oñederra  (Spain)

As Hélène Cixous would say, we precisely live in this time when the conceptual basis of an age-old culture is being undermined by millions of moles of a species never seen before.

URPEAN LURRAMaddi Barber  (Spain)

Almost two decades ago, the Itoiz dam flooded seven villages and three natural reservoirs on the Pyrenean hillside in Navarra. The ecologist group Solidari@s con Itoiz made a video document of the fight against its construction. Today, those who were there dream of the land lying beneath the water. Their voices and gestures come together to tell the tale of an individual and collective mourning still suffered today.


O QUE ARDE / FIRE WILL COMEOliver Laxe  (Spain - France - Luxembourg)Cast: Amador Arias, Benedicta Sánchez

Amador returns home after doing time in jail for arson. There, in an isolated hamlet in Lugo’s Serra dos Ancares, he will return to live with his mother Benedicta, their dog Luna and their three cows. They live their lives slowly, at the speed of nature. Until fire razes the area to the ground. Jury Prize at Un Certain Regard in Cannes and award for the best sound creation.


LA GALLINA TURULECA (TURU, THE WACKY HEN)Victor Monigote, Eduardo Gondell  (Spain - Argentina)Voices: Eva Hache, José Mota

Turuleca’s rather strange appearance and inability to lay eggs is met with mockery from the other hens. However, her life changes the day that Isabel, a former music teacher, takes her to live on her farm and discovers her amazing secret talent. Not only can Turuleca speak, she can also sing as you’ve never heard a hen sing before! But their luck isn’t to last. Isabel suffers an accident and is taken to a hospital in the Big City. Turuleca decides to go and find her, and to do it she joins the fascinating group of artists from the Daedalus Circus. Together they will set out on an extraordinary journey on which Turuleca’s musical talent and charm will turn her into a star. But the voyage won’t be easy, the circus is threatened by the evil Armando Tramas, who wants to get his hands on both the circus, and the prodigious hen.

VIDA PERFECTA / PERFECT LIFELeticia Dolera  (Spain)Cast: Leticia Dolera, Celia Freijeiro, Aixa Villagrán

María, Esther and Cristina are three complicated adult women in full existential crisis. They have come to realise that the plans they had for their lives have failed to bring them their much-desired and promised happiness. Together they will learn to find alternatives and make decisions that will distance them from the hopes pinned on them by traditional society. We will see them discover that life doesn’t always have to be the way they’d always imagined it to be. 8-episode series.


ADIóSPaco Cabezas  (Spain)Cast: Mario Casas, Natalia de Molina, Carlos Bardem, Ruth Díaz

Seville. A girl’s accidental death uncovers a whole network of corruption involving the police and drug trafficking. The case falls into the hands of Eli, an inspector who will have to struggle against the mistrust of the police and Juan, the dead girl’s father, who wants to take the law into his own hands.

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