18-09-2016 08:00

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Masao Adachi, Lee Hae-young, Ti West, João Pedro Rodrigues, David Lynch, E. Elias Merhige and Mario Bava, the stars of Seven Chances 2016

Artist of Fasting by Masao Adachi, The Silenced by Lee Hae-young, In a Valley of Violence by Ti West, The Ornithologist by João Pedro Rodrigues, David Lynch: The Art Life by Jon Nguyen, Olivia Neergaard-Holm and Rick Barnes, Begotten by Edmund Elias Merhige and Planet of the Vampires by Mario Bava are the stars of Seven Chances, the Sitges Film Festival section programmed together with the Catalan Association of Film Critics and Writers (ACCEC).

There are few figures more fascinating than Masao Adachi. Screenwriter for Koji Wakamatsu and Nagisa Oshima, director of some of the most radical titles in 1960s Japanese film, Adachi swapped the cameras for armed combat with the Japanese Red Army. Exiled in Lebanon for years, (Éric Baudelaire dedicated the documentary The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, and 27 Without Images to him) and extradited to Japan, he currently can’t leave his country of origin or attend retrospectives like the one the Rotterdam Film Festival dedicated to him this year. This sad eventuality in itself would already be a compelling reason to screen his latest film, Artist of Fasting. But on top of that, his thought-provoking adaptation of a famous short story by Franz Kafka is a hilarious, poignant and merciless in-depth analysis of present day Japanese society.

From South Korea we’ve rediscovered The Silenced (2015) by Lee Hae-young that, originally and with a steady narrative hand, tells the story of Joo-Raan, a teenage girl who, in the middle of the Japanese occupation of her country, is admitted to a sanatorium where she’ll have to regain her health through a special treatment. There she’ll discover that the establishment’s methods harbor a sinister purpose. A new twist on one of the most evocative fantastic subgenres, all-girl’s boarding school horror...

One of the most beloved filmmakers among Sitges’ audience, Ti West, who brought the Festival to a close in 2013 with The Sacrament, is back in 2016 with In a Valley of Violence, his contribution to the recent western revival. The film kicks off with the classic lone cowboy character who arrives in pretty much of a ghost town to spiral into an explosion of vengeance, not exempt of humor. Ethan Hawke, Taissa Farmiga and John Travolta head up the cast. But the film’s real scene stealer is Jumpy the dog, the cowboy’s loyal squire.

In The Ornithologist, João Pedro Rodrigues turns the untamable landscape of Trás-os-Montes where our hero gets lost into the appropriate space to reread, in a fantastic tone, the imaginary surrounding Saint Anthony of Padua. An essential name in contemporary European film, the Portuguese won the Award for Best Director at the 2016 Locarno Festival for this fascinating work about a process of transfiguration that swings between popular mysticism and queer sensuality, with certain unusual horror notes added in.

In David Lynch: The Art Life, the director of Blue Velvet reminisces, in the privacy of his studio in Los Angeles, about his childhood in Montana until he shot his first feature length film, Eraserhead. Full of all sorts of family movies, pictures and bizarre anecdotes, this documentary by Rick Barnes, Jon Nguyen and Olivia Neergaard-Holm introduces us to the personal and artistic universe of the filmmaker while taking a close look at one of the most unknown aspects of his career, his painting.

The director of Shadow of the Vampire (2000), that received a Special Mention at the 2000 Sitges Film Festival, began his career with Begotten (1990), a harsh film with a dense atmosphere and no dialogues where he poses the idea of a lost humanity that sees its gods die due to a compulsory reforming. From Dreyer to Lynch, and back again, in 78 minutes. A unique opportunity to rediscover, in proper conditions, this cult work by Edmund Elias Merhige the same year he announced his new and long awaited film, It Was Cruel, about the horror experienced by the Jews during the Second World War. 16 mm screening. 

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