Iraq, Afghanistan are focus of film festival

19th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

19 September 2007, MADRID -AFP - Iraq and Afghanistan will be in focus at this year's 55th San Sebastian Film Festival, starting Thursday, where up-and-coming directors will vie for attention with established names.

19 September 2007

MADRID -AFP - Iraq and Afghanistan will be in focus at this year's 55th San Sebastian Film Festival, starting Thursday, where up-and-coming directors will vie for attention with established names.

A total of 16 films are competing for the coveted Concha de Oro, or Golden Shell, prize for best film awarded by a jury presided over this year by US writer Paul Auster.

The Iraq conflict gets a high-profile billing with "Battle for Haditha" by British director Nick Broomfield, in the official competition section alongside 15 other works.

It will compete alongside Iranian director Hana Makhmalbaf's film "Buddha Collapsed out of Shame," the tale of a young Afghan girl's struggle to receive schooling.

Festival director Mikel Olaciregi told AFP that new names will face off against seasoned contenders in the official section, including "prizewinning faces such as David Cronenberg or Manuel Poirier ... up against a number of emerging names such as Anahi Berneri or Nick Broomfield and promising youngsters like Hana Makhmalbaf."

The September 20-29 festival is a top drawer event and as such will attract star names from across the Atlantic including Demi Moore, Samuel L. Jackson and Viggo Mortensen.

"We are going to have a number of well-known faces present," said Olaciregui, adding that US star Richard Gere and Norway's Liv Ullmann will receive special lifetime achievement awards.

Makhmalbaf is just 18 and her "Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame," about a six-year-old Afghan girl struggling to learn the alphabet in a war-torn society, depicts how violence impacts on a country's children.

Broomfield, who last year was in the Spanish Basque resort festival city with "Ghost," a drama about illegal Chinese immigration to Britain, this time comes back with an even more powerful effort with "Battle for Haditha."

The film offers a journey into a dark episode in the Iraq war with a close-up look at events in November 2005 in the town of Haditha, where an insurgents' attack on a US Marine convoy killed a popular US soldier, Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas.

Twenty-four Iraqis, many of them civilians including women and chidlren, were killed in what has been described as a retaliatory attack by the US soldiers, prompting widespread outrage and a legal investigation that has yet to conclude.

"It is a powerful film, which asks a lot of questions of filmgoers and it's a film which gets to grips with one of the burning topics of the day," said Olaciregui.

The festival is one that traditionally casts a wide geographical net, and Latin America gets in on the act with "Encarnacion" by Argentina's Anahi Berneri, along with an Uruguayan film, "Matar a todos" (Kill Everyone), by Esteban Schroeder.

"Encarnacion," starring Silvia Perez and Martina Juncadella is the story of Erni Levier, an ageing actress who goes back to her roots when she turns up at the birthday party of a niece.

"Matar a todos," starring Roxana Blanco and Dario Grandinetti, is a rollicking investigation into the criminal misdeeds of Latin America's former dictators.

Last year, "Nivemang" (Half Moon) by Iran's Bahman Ghobadi and French film "Mon Fils a Moi" (My Son) by Martial Fougeron shared the Golden Shell honours.

[Copyright AFP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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