The first contestant of the day, Sparta, by the well-known Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl, arrived in San Sebastian surrounded by a cloud of scandal, as the film was withdrawn from the Toronto festival program following allegations that the child actors suffered some kind of abuse on the set. Here it was decided to exhibit it, since there had been no legal complaint. But no one from the production came to present it. The problem is complicated since its subject is pederasty.
It all revolves around a dead-eyed, obnoxious forty-year-old named Ewald (Georg Friedrich), who, in Romania, restores an old school in order to turn it into a judo academy for minors (called Sparta, precisely). The man feels an unhealthy attraction to children, but never puts into practice – at least on camera – his latent pedophilia. It is the parents who decide to take action on the matter.
Seidl had built an interesting filmography from his acute misanthropy, as seen in his trilogy Paradise (2012-2013). Every one of her films is a ruthless take on the frailties of the human condition. However, this time he missed the shot. Without saying anything pertinent on the subject, nor developing the pathology of its protagonist, Sparta it remains as a completely useless realization.
The Danish production did not convince either Esten af livet (Forever), Third feature film by Frelle Petersen, about a perfect bourgeois family, shaken by the death of their eldest son. The director is discreet. We never find out how the deceased died. We only see the icy reaction of their relatives who continue with their life as usual – the sister (Jette Sondergaard) tries to get pregnant, the mother (Mette Munk Plum) is a prodigy of containment – between idle conversations, board games and the consumption of cakes. and cakes. It is amazing how Petersen treats the universal theme of grief without achieving an iota of emotion, insight or depth.
In both projections there were applause from the public at the end. It is known that the people of San Sebastian are of limitless generosity.
If the WHO has already announced that the pandemic is soon to end, the Spaniards have gone ahead, resuming life as it was before. Only on public transport is it mandatory to wear a face mask. In movie theaters nobody wears one. And in the old part of Donostia it is comforting to see how things have returned to normal, with its streets packed with locals and tourists.
On the other hand, the practical operation of the festival remains exemplary. Cannes organizers should already learn how to install an efficient electronic ticketing service, with which it is very easy to reserve tickets or cancel performances. You don’t even need to present the ticket at the entrance. The QR that we have in the accreditation is enough to detect it. And the rooms are always empty half an hour before their performance. Thus, unnecessary queues are not formed, much less crowds.