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Seminci premieres the Alquimias section, the main novelty of the program, a space for the discovery of vibrant and original cinema

The Filipino master Lav Diaz, the winner of the Locarno Festival Ali Ahmadzadeh or the awaited feature film by directors DK and Hugh Welchman (Loving Vincent) integrate this new competitive section, whose prize of 10,000 euros is sponsored by Grupo Recoletas Red Hospitalaria.

The Filipino master Lav Diaz, the winner of the Locarno Festival Ali Ahmadzadeh or the awaited feature film by directors DK and Hugh Welchman (Loving Vincent) integrate this new competitive section, whose prize of 10,000 euros is sponsored by Grupo Recoletas Red Hospitalaria.

The Valladolid International Film Festival  introduces a new competitive section, Alquimias, a new space that broadens the festival’s scope and gives a strong boost to its internationalization, expanding its focus to a vibrant and original cinema. This section, which constitutes the greatest innovation in Seminci’s programming, was created to welcome stories set in distant latitudes, tales that define a time and a place, while portraying the passions inherent in the human condition and highlighting the possibilities of cinema as a shared mirror of world events.

Alquimias will also make room for authors who, with three or more films, already have a certain amount of experience and recognition on the festival circuit. A new space is therefore opened that broadens the festival’s perspective and is complemented by the Official section, the main showcase of the program with established and new filmmakers, and the Meeting Point section, dedicated to first and second films. Grupo Recoletas Red Hospitalaria is sponsoring this section’s award, which will be worth 10,000 euros.

The jury of this section will be made up of three representatives of the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (CICAE), an association created in 1955 with the aim of promoting cultural diversity in cinemas and festivals, as well as promoting policies to support theaters that were in favor of this form of cinematographic art. The organization brings together more than 2,400 auteur cinemas in 45 countries around the world.

Eight titles make up the section, signed by emerging talents, names that, in Seminci’s firm and defining commitment to the discovery of new authors and looks still unknown in Spain, make up the bulk of Alquimias. Alongside them, the consecrated Lav Diaz (Melancholia, From What Is Before) and the duo formed by DK and Hugh Welchman (Loving Vincent), who present their works for the first time in Valladolid and accompany other voices that are beginning to sound strongly in the international circuit, such as the Iranian Ali Ahmadzadeh (Kami’s Party and Atomic Heart).

His film Critical Zone, winner of the Golden Leopard at Locarno, is a street road movie that travels on the back of a small dealer’s car and is a chronicle of nighttime Tehran and its most clandestine urban fauna: drugs, prostitution and smuggling. Ali Ahmadzadeh portrays a youth fed up with repression and fundamentalism in this film shot clandestinely in the Iranian capital. The filmmaker will come to Valladolid to present his film, after not being able to do so at Locarno or collect the Golden Leopard because of the ban on leaving the country by the Iranian authorities, who also pressured for the film to be withdrawn from the competition.

Femme, Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping’s debut feature, is about revenge and unresolved issues, adapting their 2021 short film of the same name about a drag queen who finds herself in a gay sauna with a young man who months earlier had beaten her up. Screened in the Berlinale’s Panorama section, George MacKay (1917, The Beast – programmed in the Official Selection) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Misfits, Utopia) play two lovers as they wander through an increasingly murky and complex labyrinth. YouPlanet is distributing the film in Spain, selected for the European Film Academy’s EFA Awards.

The Beast in the Jungle, by Patric Chiha (Domain, Boys Like Us), which competed in Panorama at the Berlinale, takes place under a different light, that of spotlights and neon lights. A free adaptation of the novel of the same name by Henry James – the same one that inspired Bertrand Bonello’s film The Beast, programmed in the Official Selection – the story takes place over 25 years (from 1979 to 2004) in a huge nightclub, where a man and a woman observe and wait for an unknown event, while we follow the evolution from disco to techno music as the soundtrack to the story of an obsession. Surtsey Films is in charge of the Spanish distribution of this film, starring Anaïs Demoustier (Alice’s Advice, The Girl with the Bracelet, The House by the Sea).

The long-awaited film from the directors of Loving Vincent, the duo formed by DK and Hugh Welchman, completes the selection of Alchemies: In the Name of the Earth, a pictorial animation film premiered at the Toronto Festival and nominated by the Netherlands as a candidate for the Oscar for Best International Film. Adapted from the novel The Peasants by Nobel laureate Władysław Reymont, this story set in the Polish countryside straddling the 19th and 20th centuries, stars a young peasant girl forced to marry a wealthy and much older farmer, despite the fact that she is in love with his son. Karma Films is distributing the film in Spain.

In another rural setting, this time in the Philippines, is Essential Truths of the Lake, with which the master Lav Diaz, winner of Golden Lion at Venice in 2016 for The Woman Who Left, arrives for the first time at the Seminci. The Asian filmmaker denounces the atrocities of the Duterte regime through this thriller about an unsolved crime starring Hermes Papauran, a detective tormented by a blurred past and facing a moral crossroads.

Iranian filmmaker Sepideh Farsi (Tehran without Permission), declared persona non grata by the Islamic Republic’s regime and banned from entering her country – she has been living in Paris since 1984 – debuts in animation with La Sirène after a brilliant career in fiction (Le Voyage de Maryam, Dreams of Dust, Red Rose) and documentary (Le Monde est ma maison, Hommes de Feu). His new film opened the Panorama section at the Berlinale and competed in the Official Selection at Annecy, where it won the award for best soundtrack. La Sirène is a poignant anti-war story set against the backdrop of the siege of the Iranian city of Abadan by Iraqi forces, where a teenager tries to flee in the midst of the fighting during the Iran-Iraq war in 1980.

Vera Egito‘s second feature film, A Batalha da Rua Maria Antônia, is about another real event, the confrontation in 1968 between the students of the University of São Paulo, opposed to the military dictatorship, and those of Mackenzie, in favor of it. When the confrontation breaks out, shouts, Molotov cocktails, stones, sticks, homemade bombs are thrown and an innocent child dies. The filmmaker approaches this chapter of Brazilian history with a film that, through 21 sequence shots, portrays a confrontation between opposing mentalities that has disturbing parallels with the days we live in, through the chronicle of a group of young people who participate in the protests in defense of an ideal.

Tres hermanos, winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Mar del Plata Festival, is also Francisco J. Paparella‘s second foray into feature films. Paparella, who unfolds a fast-paced and distressing cross between wéstern and thriller set in the Argentine Patagonia, whose majestic and inhospitable landscape is presented as the setting for a raw and violent story where the three brothers of the title, primitive, dysfunctional and excessive beings, live prisoners of their family traumas, in a film reminiscent of Sorogoyen’s As Bestas with an Argentine accent.

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