Carlos Vermut's Manticore shakes up Sitges 2022
Neil Marshall is the star of the Midnight X-treme section's return with the presentation of his Time Machine Award
Following yesterday's unforgettable opening day, the Sitges Film Festival continues completing screens. Virtual monsters, Korean spies and soul-stealing demons come together at the town's five main theaters, an incredibly interesting assortment to face a Friday when Sitges' characteristic atmosphere, despites being a bit wet, can already be felt in every corner.
Four years after Quién te cantará, the film that established him as one of the most promising filmmakers on the Spanish film scene, Carlos Vermut visited the Catalan coast along with the crew from his fourth feature film, Manticore, a story about love and monsters where Nacho Sánchez plays a video game designer tormented by a dark secret. A few hours before its big premiere at the Meliá Sitges Auditori, the Madrid-born filmmaker attended a press conference together with the film's cast and production team, where he had the opportunity to explain his intentions for portraying the film's inner monster: "By using the word monster we're already conditioning ourselves considerably. It's more of a commercial tool. The mistake is to buy into the idea that evil, selfish, thieving people aren't like us because they are. If people talked about their problems more, if they showed their darkness more, I believe it would be a better world".
Sitges' moviegoers also witnessed the premiere of Hunt, the directorial debut of award-winning actor Lee Jung-jae, known to Western audiences for starring in last year's worldwide phenomenon, Squid Game. The South Korean actor walked the Festival's red carpet today accompanied by his co-star, veteran Jung Woo-sung, whose film A Man of Reason was screened at the Festival yesterday. Hunt, which received wild applause from the audience, sets its thrilling action in the tortuous socio-political context of the two Koreas, where a spy for the North Korean regime infiltrates the neighboring country to obtain information that could lead to a future military invasion.
In addition, the Midnight X-treme section returns in style today after two years of absence, featuring the presentation of the Time Machine Award to Neil Marshall, in honor of a lifetime career dedicated to fantastic and genre films. The director of classics including The Descent and, more recently, The Reckoning, will be presenting his new feature, The Lair, an action-horror film that pits British air force soldiers against mutant monsters in the arid terrain of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, today was a celebration of the 15th anniversary of the premiere of [·REC], the legendary movie by Paco Plaza and Jaume Balagueró that terrified half the world in 2007. Noontime was marked by the presentation of [REC] Terror Sin Pausa, a documentary directed by Diego López-Fernández that contains previously unreleased images of the making of the film while exploring the keys to its success and its extensive legacy. An unmissable event for all fans. The round discussion, moderated by Jordi Sánchez-Navarro, was attended by some of the main people responsible for the mythical horror film: from Paco Plaza to Manuela Velasco, and including Javier Botet, Jaume Balagueró and Carlos Fernández. The grand finale took place at the Retiro movie theater, where Diego López-Fernández presented the documentary accompanied by the legendary duo of directors.
Other protagonists of the day in terms of screenings are Peter Strickland and his Flux Gourmet, a refined film about the concerns of a gastronomic collective starring Asa Butterfield and Gwendoline Christie, which first screened yesterday at the Tramuntana theater; and Kjersti Helen Rasmussen and her terrifying debut feature, NightMare. In addition to these two films, which are competing in the Official Selection, today the Prado theater welcomed the opening of the Anima't section with Oink, a charming story about a little girl who receives a pig as a gift from her grandfather. The one-time screening of the documentary Hollywood, Dreams and Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story, presented by the legendary actor, who walked the inaugural red carpet yesterday, also took place in the Tramuntana room.
In addition, Noves Visions' opening film, After Yang, had its farewell screening this noon at the Auditorium at a screening preceded by the much anticipated trailer for Awareness, the long-awaited science fiction film by Daniel Benmayor, produced by Amazon Prime Video. The filmmaker was the star of the second and last press conference of the day, where, following the trailer's screening, he was in charge of heightening expectations for the film: "It's a piece that we prepared specifically for the Festival. We wanted to show here that it's a type of project that combines action and science fiction, and ever since Amazon saw its potential it has been a driving force behind the film. Science fiction isn't a very widespread genre in Spanish filmmaking, and Amazon has always been confident of the project's potential".
In other news, the industry agenda kicked off this morning with the Coming Soon event, dedicated to projects in the final stages of development that are looking for financial support of any kind. The encounter with Álex De la Iglesia took place mid-afternoon, during which the award-winning filmmaker had the opportunity to take a look back over his thirty-year career as director, producer and screenwriter of some of the most memorable gems in Spanish fantastic film. Finally, the round table discussion Female Fantastic Genre Creators, where programmer Heidi Honeycutt, writer Mariana Enríquez and director Carlota Pereda discussed their respective creative processes, put the finishing touch to the day's activities.
The parallel activities included the presentation and signing of Horizonte de estrellas, this year's winner of the Minotauro Award. The co-authors, Víctor Conde and Guillem Sánchez, shared their impressions with the public accompanied by Vicky Hidalgo, director of the Minotauro publishing house. Other notable events include the presentation of the Blu Ray of Fist of Jesus, the irreverent short film by Adrián Cardona and David Muñoz, and the gymkhana organized by the Sitges Town Hall Health Department to promote healthy habits among the town's youngest residents.