Kristen Stewart on the ‘Insane Gall’ of Directors as ‘Seberg’ Arrives in San Sebastian

On Friday, Kristen Stewart and Benedict Andrews’ political thriller “Seberg” plays at the 67th San Sebastian Film Festival, where it opens Perlak, a section dedicated to the Spanish premieres of major international films. The star and her director addressed the media prior to the screening in the festival’s first high-profile press conference, held at the seaside Kursaal congress center.

In the film, Stewart plays real life American actress Jean Seberg, who starred in Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless.” Set against a turbulent political backdrop of late-1960s U.S.A., “Seberg” tells a fictionalized version of how the star was targeted by the FBI through an illegal surveillance program, Cointelpro, after voicing her support of the Black Panther Party and her romantic involvement with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal.

Eventually, and under dubious circumstances, the actress took her own life.

“Seberg” has received mixed reviews since premiering at Venice last month, but there’s been near unanimous consensus that Stewart has given one of the most assured performances in her still-young career. She gives Andrews a lot of credit for that.

“He would just throw things at me,” she joked to a deathly quiet room, her monotone sense of humor lost on the largely Spanish-speaking audience listening to a translation through earpieces.

The relationship between director and actress is touched on in the film, which includes the story about Seberg being bullied and accidentally set on fire by director Otto Preminger. There was none of that on the set of this film however.

“You have to subject yourself to a person and circumstances and set of causes controlled by them,” she said, pointing out that as an actress, “it’s a risky business, you have to choose well.”

“But,” she went on, “It’s the only way that something truly singular, honest and worthwhile happens. At the end of the day I find the most dangerous, fulfilling and rewarding experiences come from giving yourself fully to the experience which is being controlled by the director.”

“For most of my grown-up life I’ve been a theater director and worked with actors in the laboratory of the rehearsal space,” Andrews said. “There you have to create a place where it’s safe to be dangerous and go to the limits of human behavior. As a filmmaker I want to get there with actors who will be brave and go to those places. But you must create a space where it’s safe to take risks.”

Of course, a political film raised political questions as well.

Reaffirming sentiments expressed at Venice, where the film premiered, and Toronto before, Stewart said that while she’s not about to climb on a soapbox, “I think it’s clear which side of the spectrum I tip onto. If you want to know what my causes are, they are so obvious.”

She did emphasize two issues she finds especially pressing however, “Gun control and climate change. I think we are all sitting here shaking in our boots on those subjects.”

For his part, Andrews explained a desire to show the harm caused by the Cointelpro program not just to those being surveilled, but to the humans on both sides. It was important to the director to show the adverse effect the program had on young FBI agent Jack Solomon as well, who eventually comes clean to Seberg about the surveillance.

“What I wanted to show with Jack was a young soldier in a dirty war who doesn’t realize it. I wanted to show the kind of persuasive and insidious power of an oppressive government machine.”

He emphasized that at the heart of the film, there is a story about, “The rubbing of these lives, how they touch… Jack looking at Jean and Jean being looked at by Jack.”

Stewart also fielded questions about her own ambitions behind the camera on the previously announced adaptation of Lidia Yuknavitch’s memoir “The Chronology of Water.”

“The movie I want to make is really confronting. I think (the memoir) is one of the most jarring, honest coming-of-age stories. More than that, it’s one of the most honest self-realized female stories I’ve ever read. It’s all true and devastatingly gorgeous,” she said.

Speaking about Andrews specifically but directors in general, she hinted at something she must see in herself when she admired, “You have to be somewhat insane to lead the charge of 200 people and lots of money and time. It’s a very presumptuous place, and the only way to do it is with insane gall.”

  • Published in Culture

Spain's Sanchez says failed to strike deal that would confirm him as prime minister

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez admitted defeat in Thursday’s bid to be confirmed as Spain’s prime minister, telling lawmakers that his party and far-left Unidas Podemos party had failed to clinch a deal.

Sanchez, whose Socialist party won the most seats in an April election but fell short of a majority, needed Podemos’ support to win the vote that will immediately follow his speech to lawmakers and that of main party leaders.

“A deal wasn’t possible,” Sanchez told lawmakers, before adding: “I want to be Spain’s prime minister, but not at any cost.” Sanchez strongly criticized the way Podemos and its leader Pablo Iglesias had conducted the talks.

Sanchez did not say what his next step would be after the vote. If he loses, as is now expected, Sanchez has until September 23 to decide whether to try again.

If he decides against a further attempt or he is unsuccessful, a repeat election will be held on November 10, Spain’s fourth in as many years.

The negotiations became deadlocked on the question of what role Podemos would play in a possible coalition government, which would be Spain’s first in the modern era.

Senior Podemos lawmaker Ione Belarra told RNE radio earlier on Thursday that there would be time to negotiate further until September.

Earlier this month, the Socialists said they would give up trying to install Sanchez if he failed to win the July parliamentary vote.

Three months of frequently acrimonious talks between the two parties suggest that, even if there eventually was any coalition government, it could be vulnerable to similar divisions.

  • Published in World

Cuban National Ballet is Back after Successful Performances in Spain

Havana, July 15 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban National Ballet (BNC) has returned to Havana on Monday after two months of successful performances in Spain, where it drew the attention of the public and specialized critics.

'Great' was the adjective used to highlight the performance in theatres of Madrid, a coliseum that had to place a poster on its door of sold out seats.

The company received a lot of praise from the local critics, which highlighted its excellence and praised Viengsay Valdes, the Queen (of the swans) of the troupe, as Deputy Director of the BNC.

In an interview in Spain, Valdes confessed her wish to preserve the historical legacy of the dance group, while at the same time working to bring new choreographers and works to more than the 700 of the repertoire.

We don't want to be typecast in the classic. The Cuban Ballet still has a long way to go, she added.

The journey began last May 24 in Oviedo and also extended to the Basque Country, Andalusia, Madrid and Barcelona, receiving applause from spectators with the works Cinderella and Swan Lake.

The cast included Anette Delgado, Dani Hernandez, Grettel Morejon, Raul Abreu, Chanell Cabrera, Claudia Garcia, Ginett Moncho, Yankiel Vazquez, Adrian Sanchez, Ernesto Diaz, Felix Rodriguez, Ely Regina and Chavela Riera.

The company is preparing for its next presentations, scheduled for September at the Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso and then in several Mexican cities with the classic Giselle.

  • Published in Culture

Cuban Tourism Industry minister asks for more creativity to mitigate recent US measures

Manuel Marrero Cruz, Minister of Tourism, expressed confidence in the country's union leaders to mobilize the sector’s affiliates in the common goal of mitigating the effects of the Helms-Burton Act and the recent measures approved by the U.S. Government, seeking to undermine the progress of the Cuban leisure industry.

In a meeting with provincial representatives of the National Union of Hotel and Tourism Workers (SNTHT), the minister offered details about the complexities faced by this strategic sector for the island’s economy.

"It is time to do things differently, to change the mentality of those who manage the facilities," reflected Marrero, according to an article by Trabajadores newspaper published Monday.

He added that taking into consideration the decrease of foreign tourists arrivals, it is necessary to design new attractive offers, increase sales options, entice the domestic market, and conquer it with prices.

"These and other initiatives will help preserve employment in both state and non-state facilities," said Victor Lemagne Sanchez, secretary general of the SNTHT. "The battle of the union is to avoid employment interruptions," he said.

At the end of May, 2,285,990 foreign travelers had visited the country, a 5.8% growth compared to the same period last year. Industry forecasters predicted the island could reach 5,100,000 foreign vacationers this year but that claim has now being downgraded due to the effects derived by the reinforcement of the U.S. blockade.

  • Published in Cuba

Iberostar to Remain in Cuba

Spain’s Hotel Group Iberostar ratifies today —while celebrating its 25th anniversary in Cuba— its strongest commitment to the development of Cuban tourism.

In times of new measures adopted by Donald Trump’s administration against the island, which tighten the U.S. blockade, international hotel companies around the globe have confirmed their interest in expanding Cuban destination.

Oscar Luis Gonzalez, Iberostar Global Marketing manager, praised the wise commitment of Fluxá family to Cuba 25 years ago, which is today ratified and strengthened, aiming at developing and expanding this tourist attraction.

To the group, the first 20 years in Cuba meant mutual development and cognizance. In the last five, both have experienced greater strategic involvement in the marketing, commercial, operational, and human resources departments.

Cuba has a privileged nature and safety, in addition to a rich culture and authenticity paired with the strength of a destination that makes it unique.

Managing the new luxury hotel Grand Packard in Havana means responsibility, confidence, and gratitude to the Iberostar Group, which plans to expand to the central and eastern side of the nation.

Iberostar operates 21 hotels in Cuba and envisions to reach 30 hotels by 2022.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz/CubaSí Translation Staff

  • Published in Cuba

Local stars De Arriba and Mechaal get the cheers in Huelva

The 14the edition of the Meeting Iberoamericano in the southern Spanish city of Huelva, a European Atheltics Classic Permit Meeting, saw two outstanding world lead8ng performances in the field events from Venezuelan triple jumper Yulimar Rojas and Cuban discus thrower Denia Caballero but also good wins by local middle distance stars Alvaro de Arriba and Adel Mechaal.

Rojas, who is based in Spain and competes for the FC Barcelona club, leapt out to a personal best of 15.06m in the second round, the 2017world champion producing a personal best and the first jump by a woman over 15 metres in the world since 2016.

Spain’s reigning European indoor champion Ana Peleteiro had her first outdoor competition of the year and had a solid result of 14.33m to finish third to start her summer campaign.

Caballero uncorked a massive 69.20m in the second round to win by almost two metres from her compatriot Yaime Perez.

Arguably the biggest cheers of the night were reserved for another of Spain’s European indoor champions from Glasgow as de Arriba took the plaudits in the 800m to win in 1:46.28, coming home ahead of Poland's Mateusz Borkowski who was second 1:46.52.

The gun went for the 1500m barely 20 minutes after de Arriba had crossed the line and saw Adel Mechaal won the 1500m for the third time in Huelva, this time clocking 3:38.69 finishing ahead of Spanish 800m record holder Kevin Lopez, who was second in in 3:39.09.

The field events also generated European successes with Germany's 2015 European U23 bronze medallist Sara Gambetta winning the shot put with 18.40m, just six centimetres short of her personal best, while Greece's Mihail Anastasakis, a finalist at the last two European Athletics Championships and fourth in 2016, won the hammer with 74.44m.

In addition to Caballero, there were also notable wins for her Cuban compatriots Roxana Gomez in the 400m in 52.37 and for Zurian Hechavarria who won the 400m hurdles in 55.40 with Russia’s Vera Rudakova second in 55.82.

In third place was the emerging Spanish 17-year-old talent Salma Celeste Paralluelo, who ran 57.43 for not only a Spanish U18 best but also an U18 world-leading time.

She ran the 400m at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships but in only her third 400m hurdles race Paralluelo has propelled herself into medal consideration for the Boras 2019 European Athletics U20 Championships in a month’s time.

  • Published in Sports

Melia Keeps its Commitment to Cuba Despite Helms Burton Act

President of Melia Hotels International, Gabriel Escarrer Julia, assured on Tuesday that the hotel group keeps its commitment to Cuba and trusts that Washington´s tussle has a resolution respecting international law.

He pointed out that despite "disagreements with the U.S. administration, which has also been part of Cuban history, I am sure that this new dispute will have a respectful resolution under the principles of international law."

President of Melia Hotels International and founder of the hotel chain in Cuba remembered the chain´s history in the country and "the deep bond" that joins the company with Cuba.

He affirmed that "he had never regretted having opted on Melia´s tourism breakthrough throughout these 31 years of history."

The head of the Spanish chain said that from the beginning Melia had a clear vision of what Cuba could represent for holiday tourism.

"We find ourselves with a unique, inimitable country with extraordinary assets on account of its nature and its beaches, its culture, its heritage and something very valuable for tourism: security and stability", he remarked.

  • Published in Cuba
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