A Shower of Stars on the Day of the Screening of Poor Things
We arrive at a new festive eve at the 56th edition of SITGES - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, full of presentations, red carpet appearances and the return of the late-night showings. Today we were visited by Berto Romero and Andreu Buenafuente, presenting 'THE OTHER SIDE', as well as the crew from 'THE WAIT', one of the big surprises in the Official In Competition Selection, and we welcomed the Spanish premiere of one of the most eagerly awaited films of the year: 'POOR THINGS'.
The day started off on a strong note at the Auditori, with the screening and presentation of 'BITTEN', the latest work from French director Romain de Saint-Blanquat, a vindication of youthful recklessness in the form of a supernatural drama with a chaotic and oppressive atmosphere. This film is competing in the Official In Competition Selection, as is 'THE ANIMAL KINGDOM', screened this afternoon following a Méliès Awards gala that honored Jorge Guerricaechevarría (who received the Career Méliès Award) and presented awards to the feature film 'Lola' and the short film 'Gnomes'. Thomas Cailey directs an ambitious blend of science fiction, drama and adventure; which poses the premise of a pandemic that causes mutations among the population, turning them into animals.
The big Spanish film of the day was screened late afternoon at the Auditori. Javier Gutiérrez presented 'THE WAIT', a folk horror movie with a strong Andalusian flavor that also introduces fantastic western elements in every sense and draws heavily from the whole Spanish film tradition of the 70s. This morning, the film's crew, headed by Javier Gutiérrez, appeared at a press conference. In this film, the director has distanced himself from 'Rings', his previous work: "I wanted to do something a little more personal and intimate again, a piece that includes many of my childhood memories". In terms of his points of reference, Javier Gutiérrez vindicates the Spanish film tradition, filmmaking that, in his words, "I grew up watching and I felt like making a tribute to that particular filmmaking that reflected the society at a specific time, and I also wanted to make use of a tradition that has many interesting things that are not used as much as they could be".
In the evening, one of the most eagerly awaited moments of this year's edition arrived: 'POOR THINGS', the brilliant winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. The Auditori once again surrendered to Yorgos Lanthimos, one of the directors most loved by Sitges Festival fans. On this occasion, the Greek director presents a story that combines science fiction, a Victorian setting and black comedy. Emma Stone is marvelous in the role of Bella, a young woman brought back to life by her guardian, Dr. Baxter (Willem Dafoe leaves us another role to remember), who will end up becoming a symbol of equality and women's liberation.
As for series, which this year are having a special relevance at the Festival, today we enjoyed the presentation of 'THE OTHER SIDE', a Movistar Plus+ series directed by Javier Ruiz Caldera and Alberto de Toro and starring Berto Romero as Nacho Nieto, a journalist specializing in paranormal phenomena. The duo of directors visited the press conference room this morning, along with Berto Romero (who is also a screenwriter on the series, as well as the main character), Andreu Buenafuente and María Botto (who are also members of the cast). The series masterfully combines comedy and horror, and Berto Romero explains that "we tried to take this combination to its ultimate consequences, and to do so we had to give it a certain realism; my character as well as Andreu's are basically two comical characters in the context of a horror series". Meanwhile, Andreu Buenafuente had considerable doubts about whether he should accept the role or not, but finally decided to trust his colleague and friend: "you have to have faith and you have to take risks, and the combination is very powerful". The series will be premiering on Movistar Plus+ on November 23rd.
Asian cinema is playing a starring role this year in Sitges and today was no exception, with the screening of three films that were eagerly awaited by audiences. The Auditori screened the fun and impressive 'SMUGGLERS', the latest work by one of today's great Korean genre directors, Ryoo Seung-wan. Another of the other great Asian directors bringing a film (although in his case he won't be present in Sitges) is Soi Cheang, a Hong Kong filmmaker who fascinated the Festival's audience two years ago. MAD FATE' is an explosive thriller that dazzled in its tremendous first screening at the Retiro. Finally, another long-awaited film, in this case in the Anima't section, is 'DEEP SEA', a beautiful example of the current quality of Chinese animation directed by Tianxao Peng, one of the great voices in contemporary Chinese cinema.
Regarding Sitges Industry, today was the second and last day of the first edition of the Film Financing Market, a visual project funding market that brings together investors, financiers and audiovisual producers. On the other hand, a wide variety of meetings, talks and round table discussions are still taking place. This is the case of "Beyond the Screen", a talk on the introduction of audiovisual education in school curricula or "Walking Towards 20 years of CineAsia", traditional presentation of the news of our dear CineAsia colleagues.
In parallel activities, today the "Fantaskids 2nd School Film Show" took place, where the youngest Sitgetans presented their fantastic genre audiovisual works. There was also the "BaiDefest Short Film Screenings", held in collaboration with the BaiDeFest, the only fantastic and horror short film festival in the Alt Empordá region. Finally, we should also mention that today was a day for recording podcasts in MEETING. The turn went to "Beware of Hidden Macros", Cuatrochenta's monthly podcast and the "Sitges Fantàstic Podcast", the Festival's new official podcast premiering its second episode.