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The female gaze prevails among the new and audacious voices selected for the Seminci program

The Valladolid International Film Festival broadens its vision with a strong presence in its program of some of the current referents of American indie cinema and emerging talents from other cinematographies that the audiovisual industry follows very closely. Their vibrant and provocative proposals will be present in the Official and Meeting Point sections and will turn the 68th edition into a space for the discovery of surprising and original works, which will mark the future path of cinema with their new and different looks.

The Official Section will program in competition two of the most eagerly awaited, controversial and talked about indie films of recent times, the first works of two excellent directors of photography: How to Have Sex, by British director Molly Manning Walker, and The Sweet East, by American director Sean Price Williams.

How to Have Sex addresses the issue of sexual consent through the story of three British friends who, after high school, run away to a Greek island with the firm intention of getting drunk, dancing and flirting in what is supposed to be the best summer of their lives. Molly Manning Walker‘s film arrives at the Official Selection after winning the Un Certain Regard award at the last Cannes Film Festival. Manning puts a feminist spin on virginity loss films and questions the social pressures on women that underlie the liturgies of disinhibition typical of these contexts.

Sean Price Williams, a regular with indie directors like Josh and Benny Safdie, Michael Almereyda, Alex Ross Perry or Abel Ferrara, makes his debut with The Sweet East, a film shot as a variation on “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” that celebrated its world premiere at the Cannes Filmmakers Fortnight. The film is a journey into the radicalism and madness of contemporary America through the cities and landscapes of the American East Coast, where young Lillian, after escaping from her field trip with her high school classmates, discovers society’s outsiders: white supremacists, Islamic radicals, neo-punks… The film stars Talia Ryder (Never rarely sometimes always) and Jacob Nathaniel Elordi (The Kissing Booth, Euphoria).

Meeting Point

Meeting Point will be this 68th edition of Seminci a place to discover films that open new perspectives in the contemporary panorama, made by budding talents with an indomitable spirit. This competitive section, which brings together first and second fiction films, brings together a selection of titles in which the female gaze predominates, with eleven of the fifteen titles that make up Punto de Encuentro signed by female directors.

The Feeling That The Time For Doing Something Has Passed is a self-parodic autofiction by American writer, director and actress Joanna Arnow, screened at the Cannes Filmmakers Fortnight and sponsored by indie film pope Sean Baker. Arnow also stars in this comedy-tinged film, in which she plays a woman in her late 40s who feels stagnant in all facets of her life: she has a precarious job, has a dispassionate sadomasochistic relationship with a much older man, and suffers from her troubled family.

Luna Carmoon, a self-taught British filmmaker, was one of the big surprises at the Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, where her debut feature, Hoard, won several awards, including a Jury Mention for her leading lady, Saura Lightfoot Leon, and the Authors Under 40 Award for Best Direction and Screenplay. Hoard is an intense and at times macabre story about Maria, a young woman separated from her mother as a child by social services, whose childhood traumas surface and lead to degrading behavior when an old acquaintance, played by Joseph Queen (Stranger Things, Gladiator II), enters her adoptive family’s home and opens the door to past traumas, magic and madness.

Hello Dankness, an unclassifiable, crazy and hooligan film signed by the duo Soda Jerk -formed by the Australian sisters Dan and Dominique Angeloro- will be one of the most talked-about events of the 68th Seminci. Hello Dankness strings together fragments of 300 films and TV shows -from American Beauty to Star Wars, passing through the 2016 presidential election or #MeToo- to compose an anarchic tapestry that portrays the changes experienced by American society since Trump through a parodic resignification of images. Premiered in the Panorama section of the Berlinale, the public will only be able to see the film at its screening at the festival since the use of foreign images places this production at the limits of legality and its release in theaters or platforms is impossible.

For their part, Bill and Turner Ross are probably the most innovative American independent filmmakers of the moment, whose previous works, framed in non-fiction cinema, have participated in the Sundance and Berlin festivals and this year has been the subject of a retrospective at the Pompidou Center in Paris. The Ross brothers participate in Meeting Point with their first feature film, Gasoline Rainbow, a road-movie premiered in Venice, in which five teenagers travel to the Pacific coast and live one last adventure before starting adult life aboard a rickety van.

Sirocco and the Kingdom of the Winds, which opened the Annecy Festival and received the Audience Award, is the first feature-length animated film to appear in the Meeting Point section in eleven years. The first solo film by Frenchman Benoît Chieux, which evokes the cinema of master Hayao Miyazaki, is the story of two intrepid sisters aged 4 and 8 who will fight to return to the real world from The Kingdom of the Currents of Air, their favorite book, which they have accessed through a secret passage and have been transformed into cats. The story, ostensibly children’s but with varying levels of readability, has been co-written by Chieux with Oscar nominee Alain Gagnol (A Cat in Paris and Phantom Boy).

The Cage is Looking for a Bird, Chechen filmmaker Malika Musaeva‘s debut, sponsored by Russian master Alexander Sokurov, screened in the Encounters section of the Berlinale – the first Chechen-language film to be programmed at a major festival – Musaeva chose non-professional actors to portray her native Chechnya through the stories of several women.

Stepne, by Ukrainian filmmaker Maryna Vroda, winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for her short Cross, participates in Punto de Encuentro with a story of collective survival not without touches of humor that delves into Ukrainian identity through the voices of the elderly. Stepne arrives at Seminci after its premiere at the Locarno Festival.

One Last Evening, premiered in the Official Selection of the Rotterdam Festival and winner of the First Look Award at the Locarno Festival, is the debut of German actor, screenwriter and director Lukas Nathrath. One Last Evening is a comedy that portrays with empathy and tenderness the vital bewilderment of a group of friends in their thirties who attend a farewell party and end up in a battle of egos.

The Quiet Migration, by Malene Choi, a South Korean director based in Denmark, returns to the section in which she won first prize at the 63rd Seminci with her first feature film, The Return. Choi brings to the screen her own experience in The Quiet Migration, where young Carl – a young choreographer adopted by a Danish family – feels the time has come to choose between his current home and his native country in a comic and tender film that won the FIPRESCI award in the Panorama section of the Berlinale. 

Greek director Sofia Exarchou explores in her second film, Animal, the B-side of paradise by visiting the behind-the-scenes workers who run an all-inclusive resort at the luxury Mirage Hotel on a Greek island. After being selected for the Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Lab in 2014, Exarchou became one of the big surprises of the indie circuit with Park, her first feature film, premiered at the Toronto Festival and awarded at the San Sebastian Festival with the New Directors Award.

Sweet Dreams, the second feature by Bosnian-Dutch filmmaker Ena Sendijarević, is an unconventional period drama at first. Set on a remote sugar plantation in the Dutch East Indies circa 1900, Sweet Dreams is a magical fiction with surreal touches that, through an unconventional period drama, bridges the present viewer into the mirror of today’s world.

Arthur & Diana, German director Sara Summa‘s second feature film presented at the Locarno Festival, alludes to the two siblings in this story, played by the director herself and her real-life brother, who travel from Berlin to Paris for the annual inspection of their ramshackle Renault, inherited from their deceased father. This road movie is a light and somewhat adventurous comedy full of unexpected characters, small adventures, solvable problems and twists and turns.

These titles, together with the already announced Muyeres, by Marta Lallana; Negu hurbilak, by Colectivo Negu, and On the Go, by María Giséle Royo and Julia De Castro, complete the program of feature films in competition in the Punto de Encuentro section.

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