Sitges Celebrates the Careers of Lee Unkrich and Phil Tippet on the Day of The Toxic Avenger
We are reaching the end of the 56th edition of the SITGES - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, but there are still many awards to be presented and many wonderful films to be discovered. Today was a day of tribute to Phil Tippet, the second and final Grand Honorary Award winner this year, and Lee Unkrich, who received the Time Machine Award. Meanwhile, today we were visited by our dearly loved Takashi Miike, who presented his latest film. In addition, a number of eagerly awaited films including 'THE TOXIC AVENGER' and 'COBWEB' were also screened.
‘WHITE PLASTIC SKY' kicked off a morning full of gems in the Official In Competition Selection at the Auditori. The duo formed by Tibor Bánóczki and Sarolta Szabó are the directors of one of the European animation gems of the year, a beautiful rotoscoped journey set in a dystopian future. The next film shown at the Auditori was 'RIDDLE OF FIRE', a kind of fairy tale full of bizarre characters that marks the feature film debut of American director and screenwriter Weston Razooli. At noon, the turn went to 'RED ROOMS', a character study that navigates the territories of thrillers until it plunges into a terrifying journey through the dangers of the Internet.
Late in the afternoon, the audience at the Auditori experienced one of the most long-awaited moments of this edition: Japanese director Takashi Miike presented 'LUMBERJACK THE MONSTER' (participating in the Òrbita section) in what can be considered his second home. This afternoon, the Japanese director appeared at a press conference together with Kazuya Kamenashi, the film's leading actor and also a pop star in Japan. Takashi Miike talked about what motivated him to make the film: "what interested me most was the human drama behind the psychopaths, who make up 80% of the characters that appear in it." In this regard, Kazuya Kamenashi started preparing for the role planning to play a very explosive type of psychopath, but "I talked to Takashi Miike and he told me he wanted a calmer sort of psychopath, so I started to change my preparation." On future projects outside of Japan, the director revealed that "right now I have a project underway in the U.S. and it's not that I want to work in Hollywood, but I like new challenges." Asked about a preview of the project, the director stated that "at the moment I can't really say too much, only that it's a remake of a very explosive film and that it's going to fit in perfectly at the Sitges Film Festival."
Before the screening of 'LUMBERJACK THE MONSTER', Lee Unkrich, the man behind some of the all-time greatest animated films including 'Toy Story 3' and 'Coco', received the Time Machine Award, highlighting his role as one of the most influential animation directors of the last two decades. Lee Unkrich was also at the Festival presenting his incredible work on 'The Shining', Stanley Kubrick's horror genre masterpiece.
In the evening, 'THE TOXIC AVENGER' was presented, the long-awaited remake of the 1984 classic of the same name, directed by Macon Blair and featuring a star-studded cast with names including Elijah Wood, Peter Dinklage and Kevin Bacon. Prior to the screening, Phil Tippet took the stage to receive the Grand Honorary Award for his lifetime achievement in the field of visual effects, having been the man behind such timeless classics as 'Jurassic Park', 'RoboCop' and the first two films in the 'Star Wars' franchise. This year he returned to the Festival to present his magnum opus as a director, 'MAD GOD', a vital project that took him more than 30 years to complete.
This morning, Phil Tippet responded to questions from reporters at a press conference. His career as an animator began in an almost random way: " In the 70's, to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War, I decided to go to college to study conceptual art, which I think has helped me enormously in my career". In this regard, the filmmaker talked about his creative process: "When people ask me where I get my inspiration from I tell them that I just do like Bach, Beethoven and Mozart did. In a way, it's as if God (and it's not like I'm a believer) gives me the ideas and my job is simply to transcribe them."
In addition to Takashi Miike's visit, today we had a major day for Asian film in Sitges. Another Japanese director who was also presenting his latest release was Keiichi Hara, an animator known for his work as a director on legendary anime series like 'Doraemon' or 'Shin Chan'. 'THE CASTLE IN THE MIRROR', which will be screened in the Anima't section, is a beautiful, animated film based on the premise of a world where mirrors are portals through which to travel to other universes. Meanwhile, at the Auditori, 'COBWEB' was screened as the closing film of the Noves Visions section. The latest movie by Kim Jee-woon (director of modern genre classics like 'I Saw the Devil' or 'A Bittersweet Life') arrives in Sitges after its successful run at Cannes. On this occasion, the Korean director moves away from action thrillers in an extraordinary film that explores the sub-genre of cinema about cinema.
Regarding the Industry program, today there were two very interesting Encounters with Keiichi Hara and Lamberto Bava (who yesterday picked up one of this year's Time Machine Awards). As for other types of events, Carlota Pereda (director of 'La ermita'), David Heras and Iñaki Gil (supervisors at VFX Alive) took part in the round table discussion "La ermita: Visual effects at the Service of Storytelling". On a completely different level, the event "Historias para no dormir" (Stories to Stay Awake) offered an immersive listening experience where some of the scenes of the new version of the Spanish TV classic that is coming back in audio format were presented.
Meanwhile, as for parallel activities, today was a particularly busy and varied day. At Sitges Family the activities that go beyond movie screenings continued, with a stop motion workshop in the morning and another collage workshop in the afternoon for the little ones to start experimenting. In the afternoon, at MEETING, the traditional MANGA Barcelona presentation, a play entitled "Panic 13" and the Fantosfreak short film screenings took place.
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