CULTURE

Cruz, Verdú, Trueba... A wealth of Spanish talent at San Sebastián

First ever Madrid presentation of the Basque festival is well received

Maribel Verdú, in the new Spanish version of Snow White
Maribel Verdú, in the new Spanish version of Snow White

The movie industry briefly put aside its concerns over the future this week to enjoy the presentation of the Spanish films that will participate in the 60th San Sebastián International Film Festival in September.

There will be a total of 14 Spanish titles at the festival, including works by directors Fernando Trueba, Juan Antonio Bayona, Eduard Cortés, Pablo Berger and Javier Rebollo.

The presentation, made by festival director José Luis Rebordinos, was attended by film producers, distributors and exhibitors, as well as representatives from public and private television networks.

The satisfied expression on Rebordinos' face toward the end of the morning reflected the success of the first ever Madrid presentation of the Basque festival.

"There is no better place than this one to showcase the wealth and variety of our homegrown cinema," said Rebordinos.

The event provided momentary relief from widespread concern in the movie industry over deep cuts in the state's culture budget, as well as the surprise announcement that movie tickets will experience a 13-percentage-point rise in value added tax from September 1. This particular initiative, from Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro, has the movie industry up in arms.

Besides the 14 Spanish productions presented last week, several other titles with some degree of Spanish participation will join the list shortly as part of the Horizontes Latinos section.

The actresses Penélope Cruz and Maribel Verdú both star in films that are in competition for a festival award. Cruz, an Oscar winner, has a role in the latest film by Sergio Castellitto, Venuto al Mondo , based on the novel by Margaret Mazzantini. Cruz and Castellitto had already worked together in 2004 on Don't Move , which earned the actress the Donatello award. Venuto al Mondo is the story of a woman who returns to Sarajevo, the city she fled with her son after losing her husband there.

Meanwhile, Maribel Verdú stars in Blancanieves (Snow White) by Pablo Berger, an original black-and-white vision of the tale by the Brothers Grimm set in southern Spain in the 1920s.

Fernando Trueba, an Oscar-winning director for the 1992 movie Belle Epoque , will seek to win the Golden Shell with El artista y la modelo (The artist and the model), a story set in occupied France and featuring an old sculptor played by Jean Rochefort.

The other movie in the running for an award is El muerto y ser feliz (The corpse and being happy), by Javier Rebollo. This will be the third time that Rebollo has competed in the San Sebastián festival, the first being in 2006 with Lo que sé de Lola (What I know about Lola) and three years later with La mujer sin piano (The woman without a piano), which earned him a Silver Shell for best director. El muerto y ser feliz is a dark comedy about an old hired thug played by José Sacristán.

Also in the official section, though not in competition, is the much-awaited project by Juan Antonio Bayona, Lo imposible , which explores the distressing situation experienced by a couple and their children during the tsunami in Thailand; the movie has an international cast including Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts.

There is also ¡Atraco! (Hold-up), by Eduardo Cortés, about a crazy jewel heist that targeted Eva Perón, who had pawned her valuables in Madrid in 1955 to finance her expenses while in exile.

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