'Amazing Elisa' and 'Incredible but True' Dazzle Sitges' Audience
Alberto Vázquez and his 'Unicorn Wars' dominated the press and industry's agenda after creating excitement at its Sunday screening
Sitges 2022 has left behind its first weekend, and in its course it has already created indelible recollections in its fans' memories: from the recognition of a living legend like Dario Argento to the party at the Auditori with Piggy, not to mention the two Time Machine Awards presented so far: to Edgar Wright and Neil Marshall. On the horizon there are still another five awards to be delivered, countless screenings to enjoy and, of course, multiple levels to complete.
After surprising the Auditori's audience with yesterday's screening, today the press conference was held to present Unicorn Wars, the second animated film from Alberto Vázquez following his celebrated Birdboy: The Forgotten Children, which astonished the Auditori's audience at yesterday's screening. The Galician filmmaker stated that the cocktail of references he used for the film includes works as diverse as Bambi, Apocalypse Now and the Bible, as well as masters of Japanese anime such as Hayao Miyazaki and Masaaki Yuasa, one of this year's Time Machine Award winners. He also had the opportunity to explain why he is interested in the issues addressed: "In addition to the external war, this film is also about trauma, about the loss of innocence. I don't have any siblings, but it's curious how two siblings born and living in the same social environment can be completely different and antagonistic. At the same time, I was interested in reflecting the relationship of dependence, and some questions such as what is the origin of evil. Is evil born or is it made? That was one of the premises of the film."
Spanish fantastic genre continued at the forefront with the European premiere of Asombrosa Elisa, the revenge thriller directed by Sadrac González-Perellón. The filmmaker appeared before the media mid-morning accompanied by his all-star cast of actors, composed of Asier Etxeandia, Silvia Abascal and Ivan Massagué, as well as the very young Jana San Antonio and Blanca Valletbò. At the press conference, González-Perellón reflected on whether the everyday life of people combines elements of fantasy and local color: "I'm not sure. But I think that we all try to survive in this world through our dreams, and dreams can be real, or they can be fantasy". In the afternoon, the film crew presented the film at its official screening, but not before walking the Festival's red carpet.
Well into the night, the Auditori recovered the spirit of Mandibles, which dazzled Sitges' audiences in 2020, after the screening of the first of the two feature films directed by Quentin Dupieux that the Festival is presenting at this year's edition. We're referring to Incredible but True, a film located on the fringes of science fiction without forgetting the absurd humor that is so characteristic of his filmmaking. Cannes award-winner Benoït Magimel and César award-winner Anaïs Demoustier are the co-stars, along with Alain Chabat and Léa Drucker, in this unique production where a couple appears to have purchased the house of their dreams, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Today at the Auditorium also featured two other eagerly awaited horror films competing in the Official Selection. Christian Tafdrup's Speak No Evil, a sadistic film with social overtones centered on the conflict between a Danish family and a Dutch family, was screened at 12:00 noon. Thirteen hours later, the Sitges Film Festival is proud to be welcoming the world premiere of The Knocking, presented by the Finnish filmmaking duo Joonas Pajunen and Max Seeck. This interesting debut feature tells a ghost story in which three siblings return to their childhood home, where their parents tragically died in the past. The day, in terms of official competition, concluded with the official screening of another of the most eagerly awaited debuts, Summer Scars, which combines fantasy and realism in the context of the reunion of two brothers who meet up again after a ten year gap.
Within the framework of the parallel sections, some of the most auteurist productions of this year's edition were shown, especially in Noves Visions. This is the case of Jerk, where Gisele Vienne brings the controversial performance of the same name to the big screen, staging the reimagining of the crimes of a serial killer; Leonor Will Never Die, Martika Ramírez Escobar's debut feature that was a big hit at the Sundance Festival, and Flowing, an uncomfortable tragicomedy directed by Ann Oren. Meanwhile, Panorama Fantàstic brings to today's lineup three of its most dangerous scenarios for the feature films' protagonists: the hidden terrors of the streets of Hong Kong in Tales From the Occult; the sinister family barbecue on the farm in Family Dinner; and the tension of the Roman squares in Flowing.
Today's industry agenda was interspersed with everything related to Sitges Fanpitch, the international pitching event focused on feature films and genre TV series. First thing in the morning, the twelve selected projects offered their pitches to the participating companies, including XYZ Films and Blue Underground, in a private event that took place both online and in person. Once finished, a series of individual meetings were organized between those responsible for the projects and the companies involved. There was also the presentation of the Festival's official book that is in line with this year' leitmotiv, Hidden Macros: Retrofutures and Virtual Universes in Science Fiction about TRON (Macros ocultas: Retrofuturos y universos virtuales en la ciencia ficción a propósito de Tron), coordinated by Ángel Sala and Jordi Sánchez-Navarro. The day culminated with a talk on Unicorn Wars: the Artistic Process of Production, where Alberto Vázquez reflected on his experience in the making of his confirmation feature film, one of the most attractive films of the day.
In the town center, where the King Kong Area is located, the highlights were the talk Literary Monsters in Film, where Lluís-Anton Baulenas reflected on the fruitful relationship between the written page and the big screen; and the presentation of the Unicorn Wars art book, a document that gives privileged access to the project's artistic ins and outs.