“A Hunt for Hedgehogs,” the new film by Hungarian director Mihály Schwechtje and “Rock Bottom,” the feature debut of Spaniard María Trénor mark two potential highlights of San Sebastian’s pix-in-post sidebar WIP Europa, that runs Sept 25-27. 

In 2020, the San Sebastian Film Festival, the highest-profile film event in the Spanish-speaking world, launched two new pix-in-post showcases, WIP Latam and WIP Europa, replacing respectively Films in Progress and Glocal in Progress sidebars. 

The five candidates productions that will vie for the WIP Europa Award are from Germany, Hungary, Spain and Turkey. Among them is “A Hunt for Hedgehogs,” the second feature from Schwechtje who debuted with “I Hope You’ll Die Next Time:-),” winner of best film in the youth strand at Tallinn Black Nights in 2018. He has also directed several episodes of the popular HBO Hungary series “In Treatment.” 

“Rock Bottom,” an animated feature using a rotoscoped 2D style, was pitched at this year’s Spanish Screenings in Málaga and the Annecy Animation Showcase at Cannes Marché du Film. Trénor’s “Con qué la lavaré” (2004) won the Berlinale’s Teddy Bear for best short film.   

Also in the WIP Europa mix is “Sima’s Song,” a second title from Catalonia-based producer Alba Sotorra who is also behind “Rock Bottom” and one of a generation of – often women – producers based in Barcelona who are plowing ever more into international co-production. 

“Sima’s Song” is directed by Afghan filmmaker Roya Sadat, known for her activism in favour of women’s rights whose feature debut “A Letter to the President,” was Afghanistan’s 2017 submission for best international feature at the Oscars. 

WIP Europa also features German director Michael Fetter Nathansky’s second film “Mannequins” (a working title), who participated in the Cutting Edge Talent Camp at the Mannheim-Heidelberg Festival.

Selman Nacar’s “Hesitation Wound,” winner of the WIP Europa Industry and WIP Europa awards last year, premiered at the Venice Festival’s Orrizonti sidebar.

SAN SEBASTIAN WIP EUROPA, 2023

A drill down on titles: 

“Mannequins” (Michael Fetter Nathansky, Germany)

A romantic drama set against a social backdrop about the magic of falling in love and the painful process of falling out in one of Europe’s biggest mining areas. The project participated in the Cutting Edge Talent Camp of Mannheim-Heidelberg. Fetter Nathansky co-scripted Sophie Linnenbaum’s Karlovy Vary 2022 hit “The Ordinaries,” picked up for sales by The Match Factory.  

Mannequins
Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival

“Rock Bottom” (María Trénor, Spain, Poland)

Produced by Spain’s Alba Sotorra, Jaibo Films  – both behind Locarno hit “Sacred Spirit”- and Majorca’s Empatic plus Poland’s GS animation, “a loose and liberated riff on the life (and work) of British rocker Robert Wyatt” following a pair twentysomething idealists who find a respite from early 70s conventions in the hippie haven of Mallorca,” Variety reported from Cannes, noting the film’s “clean lines and rich colors,” the footage matching Wyatt’s music, from his legendary same-titled 1974 album. 

“Sima’s Song” (Roya Sadat, Spain, Netherlands, France)

Sadat presents an inspirational drama thriller set in 1979 pre-Civil War Kabul, inspired by a real story of two women – Suraya, a communist, Sima, a conservative – whose friendship endures despite radically opposed politics. Sadat, Alba Sotorra, Baldr Films and Urban Factory produce.

Sima’s Song
Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival

“A Hunt for Hedgehogs” (“Sünvadászat,” Mihály Schwechtje, Hungary)

With an outstanding career as a short filmmaker, Schwechtje tells here the story set over one day of a talented opera singer student who sometimes looks after her cousin’s children. Under pressure, on the day of a crucial exam, she makes a terrible mistake. 

A Hunt for Hedgehogs
Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival

“On the Water Surface” (“Suyun Yüzü,” Zeynep Köprülü, Turkey-Germany)

Köprülü’s first feature, produced by young Istanbul-based boutique Periferi Films, a family drama tracking the return of Deniz to her hometown to attend her widowed mother’s wedding.  

On the Water Surface
Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival

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