Festival season is in full swing, and this week it’s getting its yearly dose of Spanish flair with the world renowned San Sebastián International Film Festival, held in the Basque Country’s idyllic coastal city of the same name since 1953. Originally specializing in Spanish-language cinema, San Sebastián opened up its competition to diverse international fare in 1955, but still retains a marked focus on Iberian and Latin American filmmaking. Known for premiering groundbreaking films along the lines of Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock and Melinda Melinda by Woody Allen, San Sebastián has assured its place as the oldest and most important festival in the Spanish-speaking world.
Since kicking off last Friday, this year’s 62nd edition has featured the requisite star power in the form of Denzel Washington and Benicio del Toro, who were both given the symbolic Donostia Award in recognition of their work and career, along with some Viggo Mortensen and Jessica Chastain sightings. As for the lineup of films, San Sebastián stays true to its roots with a smattering of Spanish productions alongside works from the U.S. to India to South Korea. Among the Latin American countries represented, the usual suspects of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay as well as up-and-comer Colombia, will be competing for one of the festivals coveted awards.
From Uruguay, first time director Germán Tejeira’s Una noche sin luna will be competing for the Kutxa-New Directors Award. Name by Variety as one of the 10 rising stars of Latin American talent (talk about pressure), Tejeira has followed up a string of successful shorts with this unpretentious film about three lonely souls spending a New Year’s night in a small country town. The trailer gives us a taste of Uruguay’s unmistakable brand of deadpan comedy, in which a puff of smoke on a performer’s face or a dinner guest with greasy hands somehow strikes us as utterly hilarious.
Nevertheless, both the title and the film’s brief trailer transmit a sense of melancholy and longing that Uruguayans seem to do so well. In all, Una noche sin luna seems like another understated but heartfelt addition to Uruguay’s seemingly unstoppable flow of world-class cinema. Keep an eye out for this one.