Sitges Celebrates the Life Achievements of Colin Arthur and Ti West on the Opening Day of 'Pearl'
Eduardo Casanova and his team presented La piedad, a maternal drama dyed in Pink
Today the Festival is getting ready to receive a wave of fans who have taken advantage of the public holiday to continue enjoying the best genre films. Three illustrious names in international fantastic genre were the protagonists as far as awards are concerned: on the one hand, Colin Arthur, a living legend in special effects and makeup, is receiving this year's Grand Honorary Award; on the other, Ti West, director of works like X or In a Valley of Violence, is picking up the fourth Time Machine Award, and finally, Astrid Frank is receiving the Honorary Maria Award for her enormous contribution to women's fantastic genre filmmaking with her short films from the 70s. In this way, Sitges pays tribute to the past, present and future of fantastic genre films.
Creator of creatures such as the snakes from Conan the Barbarian or the unforgettable Falkor, from The NeverEnding Story, as well as effects such as the blood at the Overlook Hotel, Colin Arthur has some of the most emblematic images in the history of genre filmmaking to his credit. Today at mid-afternoon, before the screening of Project Wolf Hunting, the Korean action thriller directed by Kim Hong-sun that is competing in the Official Selection, the ceremony to present this year's Grand Honorary Award to one of the most important FX artists in history was held. During his emotional speech, Arthur recalled some of the directors he has worked with over the years, such as Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg and Wolfgang Petersen, as well as his great mentor, Ray Harryhausen.
Today's first press conference had a deluxe protagonist. In addition to presenting the long-awaited prequel to X, the spiritual debtor of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that surprised the fantastic genre scene early this year, Ti West explained the process of conceiving the trilogy that has taken three years of his life, which will culminate with MaXXXine, set six years after X: "I'm very happy to have been able to work with A24 and Mia Goth. I think we're trying to do things that are different than what people are accustomed to, demonstrating that horror movies can be more varied than what people expect, especially with slasher films. X was a standard slasher; Pearl attempts to expand on that concept, and in MaXXXine we'll try to go a little bit further, to try to achieve something fresher". Late into the night, with an Auditori packed with fans eager to see Pearl, West received his Time Machine Award after walking the Festival's red carpet.
On this especially award-filled day, this year's Honorary Maria has also been presented. The winner is Astrid Frank, a German actress whose work as a director in the 1970s was one of the first examples of science fiction films directed by women. The pioneer of female fantastic genre received her award before the screening of two of her most interesting short films: Red and The Jealous Mirror.
Once again today, Spanish film played a leading role, on this occasion with the premiere of La piedad, the second film from Eduardo Casanova, where the Madrid-born filmmaker offers his particular vision of an international conflict such as the war between the two Koreas based on the story of a mother and son, played by Ángela Molina and Manel Llunell. In the second appearance of the day, Casanova explained the reason for this surprising connection: "The reality is that you see the film and the two themes fit together. It was possible that it wouldn’t work, but at least for me they work. One of the biggest fears I have is the fear of death, and I think motherhood has something to do with that. Sometimes you have a child to remain in the world forever, even after you're gone. Something similar happens with political leaders: the deceased leader in North Korea is still the father of the nation. That's where the two issues come together”. In the evening, the official screening of the film took place, with the presentation by Álex De la Iglesia and Carolina Bang, producers of the film, as well as several members of the cast such as Macarena Gómez, Ana Polvorosa and Manel Llunell, among others.
The Official In Competition Selection, in addition to the films by West and Casanova, also featured three other interesting proposals: La tour, a new fantastic drama from Guillaume Nicloux, director of the two films that controversial writer Michel Houellebecq has starred in over the last decade (Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq and Thalasso); Watcher, a psychological thriller directed by Chloe Okuno; and Sisu, a new war film by Jalmari Helander, who already knows what it's like to taste triumph in Sitges thanks to Rare Exports. In addition, as part of the Sitges Clàssics section, it was possible to see Conan, the Barbarian, a work that this year's Grand Honorary Award winner collaborated on, with a presentation by Jack Taylor, an actor in the film. In addition, Break of Dawn, by Tomoyuki Kurokawa, represented the Anima't section today, while Jacky Caillou, the alpine horror feature debut by Lucas Delangle, did the same in the Noves visions section. Meanwhile, in the Panorama Fantàstic section, Nyla Innuksuk's Slash/Back and Megalomaniac, a feature film by Karim Ouelhaj on the weight of patriarchy, were screened.
The industry agenda, in addition to including the last two sessions of It's Bloody Green, the seminar on environmentalism and sustainability in film for Sitges Fanpitch winners, offered an exclusive meeting with Ti West, where he had the chance to look back over his career. In addition, the Noray Tent at the Hotel Meliá hosted two of the most interesting dialogues of this year's entire edition. On the one hand, programmer and film critic Heidi Honeycutt interviewed Astrid Frank, this year's Honorary María award winner, discussing her career as a director; and on the other hand, Javier Calvo and Mariana Enríquez spoke about adapting horror novels to the big screen
Today's recreational activities included two workshops that entertained the youngest children. At noon, the children created their own zoetrope from a sketch of the classic festival logo, thus learning the magic of optical effects, and at around five in the afternoon, the workshop stopmotion animation Mironins, where participants have to imagine and give color to three characters of the new animated series, inspired by the work of Joan Miró. In addition, the FNAC tent hosted the presentation of the book Suspense, horror, surrealismo… Dario Argento. El maestro italiano del escalofrío (Suspense, horror, surrealism... Dario Argento. The Italian Maestro of Chills), where Mariano Muniesa pays tribute to the work of this year's Golden Honorary Award winner.