Brian De Palma, Joss Whedon, James Franco and Jean-Claude Brisseau, just a few of the stars in Seven Chances for the section's twentieth anniversary
The Sitges Festival’s Seven Chances section will be celebrating its twentieth anniversary with a luxury lineup, including movies by major and cult filmmakers and the revival of legendary restored pieces. Seven Chances is the critics’ space –the program is prepared in collaboration with the Catalan Association of Film Critics and Writers (ACCEC)– and this year it is presenting seven essential titles: Passion, by Brian De Palma; La fille de nulle part, by Jean-Claude Brisseau; Leviathan, by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel; Interior. Leather Bar, by James Franco and Travis Matthews; Much Ado About Nothing, by Joss Whedon; Vulgaria, by Pang Ho-cheung, and the restored The Desert of the Tartars (Il deserto dei tartari, 1976) by Valerio Zurlini.
Passion, the latest erotic thriller by maestro Brian De Palma, will be one of the stars of Seven Chances 2013. The film, that has remained incomprehensibly unreleased on our country’s movie screens one year after its premiere at the 2012 Venice Mostra, is a free remake of Alain Corneau’s Crime d'amour (2010). Once again, De Palma drags us through a labyrinth of desires and obsessions via the dangerous relationship two women strike up, Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace, in a struggle for power taken from work to the bedroom.
Another of the section’s highlights will be offered by James Franco who, not satisfied with being one of Hollywood’s most famous actors, has begun a stunning career as a director and has already made a dozen feature length movies. Furthermore, in 2013 he has managed to release a different film at each of the three festivals with the greatest international impact: Berlin, Cannes and Venice. In Sitges we’ll be screening Interior. Leather Bar following its passage through Sundance and the Berlinale. Along with its co-director Travis Matthews, Franco delves into a metacinematic game based on the censored footage of Cruising (1980), by William Friedkin. The two filmmakers document the shooting of a recreation of those scenes of explicit gay sex inside a homosexual bar to explore the conflicts and prejudices generated, yesterday and today, by the representation of homosexuality in cinema.
Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Serenity (2005) and The Avengers (2012), temporarily puts aside the blockbusters and fantasy to make a contemporary, low-budget adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, by William Shakespeare. The director called together the actors and actresses he works with most often at his own home to film Much Ado About Nothing right there, in black and white and in just two weeks. Whedon transports this classic in comedies of misunderstandings to present-day California and shows its kinship with screwball comedies. In passing, he invites us to establish Shakespearian connections with the rest of his work.
Controversial filmmaker Jean-Claude Brisseau, known for works like Choses secrètes (2002) or Les anges exterminateurs (2006), offers us La fille de nulle part his most intimate film. Winner of the Golden Leopard Award at the 2012 Locarno Festival, it shows us Brisseau himself, playing a retired professor who barely ever leaves him home and who sees his everyday life disrupted by the appearance of a girl from out of nowhere. With an approach to eroticism that’s much more delicate than in his previous films, La fille de nulle part prefers to praise the surreal side of love, the side placing it beyond life and death.
From the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard, Lucien Castaing-Taylor and his colleagues are revolutionizing the contemporary documentary world with films like Leviathan, which we can see at Sitges 2013 and that also premiered at Locarno 2012. Castaing-Taylor and co-director Véréna Paravel invoke the sea monster with biblical repercussions to completely submerge us in the sensorial experience of living and working on a fishing boat on the high seas. With a device containing small cameras spread out around the boat that record from the most deafening sounds to the dying panting of the fish, Leviathan penetrates the field of horror while remaining constantly anchored to reality.
Comedy will also have a space in Seven Chances. Pang Ho-cheung brings us one of the wildest comedies in recent Hong Kong cinema. In Vulgaria a producer down on his luck decides to accept a gangster’s help to continue with the remake of an old porno film … Pang had already successfully combined comedy and erotic films in previous movies like AV (2005). With Vulgaria he manages to go even further with a vision of the Hong Kong low cost film industry overflowing with a heartrending humor that does credit to its title and reminds us that comedy is a very fertile field for creative freedom.
And finally, 2013 also revives one of the modern classics in Italian cinema, Valerio Zurlini’s The Desert of the Tartars. This adaptation of Dino Buzzati’s novel by the same name, one of the essential titles in 20th century literature, hasn’t been able to be seen on the silver screen for many years. The film was restored in 4K resolution using the original negative and with the supervision of its cinematographer, Luciano Tovoli, and it arrives in Sitges after being screened in the Cannes Classics section of the French festival. The final and most ambitious work from the director of Girl With a Suitcase (La ragazza con la valigia, 1961) and Family Portrait (Cronaca familiare, 1962), The Desert of the Tartars boasts a soundtrack by Ennio Morricone and a deluxe cast including the best European actors of the time: Vittorio Gassman, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Giuliano Gemma, Philippe Noiret, Helmut Griem, Max von Sydow, Laurent Terzieff, Fernando Rey and Paco Rabal.
Foto 1: Interior. Leather bar
Foto 2: Passion
Foto 3: The Desert of the Tartars
Foto 4: Much Ado About Nothing