William Friedkin delivers charm, complicity… and filmmaking lessons
American filmmaker William Friedkin came to Sitges to receive the award for his lifetime achievement, but also to chalk up complicities, display talent and give lessons in film and honesty. That’s how he was seen in the master class he gave this morning. Today was also Hong Kong Day in Sitges, with a major player: director Johnnie To, who presented his cult film The Mission. The Asian production Sword Master 3D was presented in the Official Selection, as well as Marrowbone, directed by Sergio G. Sánchez. Today was also the day that the Festival presented the commemorative book 50 Years Celebrating the Darkness.
“When I started out, I had no idea my movies would be so inspiring or have so much influence”, William Friedkin commented this morning at an encounter packed with fans and journalists. The American director explained numerous anecdotes and shared memories from film shoots with the audience, and offered his opinion on his films, like the legendary The Exorcist, about which he said “it’s a religious movie that talks about the mystery of faith; I’m not Catholic, but I firmly believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ. I made The Exorcist as a believer. The sequels are made by skeptics”. He also had time to dedicate a few words to Sitges: “I’m lucky to still be alive and I’m fascinated by this town: the sea, the food, its beauty… I’m living wonderful moments here and I am enormously thankful to the Festival for having invited my wife and me”. Since he landed in Sitges, Friedkin has shown his complicity with Sitges and with Catalonia during several interventions.
Hong Kong filmmaking was the today’s big star. Johnnie To, one of the most internationally acknowledged filmmakers, after the Cannes Festival presented Breaking News in 2004 as a part of its Official Selection, came to Sitges this year to help celebrate its 50th anniversary. The Hong Kong filmmaker presented one of his cult films, The Mission, and following the film’s screening, held a Q&A session with his fans at the Prado. The day dedicated to Hong Kong also offered the screening of Sword Master 3D, a co-production between China and Hong Kong, where directors Derek Yee and Tsui Hark join forces to bring to the screen the wuxia –a Chinese genre dedicated to martial arts– by Gu Long, a classic revolving around honor and vengeance. Hong Kong Day reached its high point with the presentation of the Honorary María Award to Hong Kong producer and distributor Fred Tsui and with a cocktail reception offered by this country’s film agency.
In addition to the one for Fred Tusi, today the Festival also presented two other awards: the first for Catalan director of photography and restorer Juan Mariné, and the second for comic book illustrator Juan Giménez.
With regard to cinema, today was the presentation of the Spanish movie Marrowbone, attended by its director Sergio G. Sánchez, producer Sandra Hermida and art director Patrick Salvador. Following the film’s screening, all of them participated in a master class about the movie’s production.
Also today in the FNAC marquee, located in front of the entrance to the Meliá Sitges Auditori, was the presentation of the Festival’s official book, 50 Years Celebrating the Darkness, which reviews and commemorates the film competition’s half century mark. The event was presided over by the Sitges Foundation’s Deputy Director, Mònica Garcia, the book’s publisher and coordinator, and two of the writers that participated in its making, Violeta Kovacsis and Gerard Casau. The book, which presents a very painstaking publication, is a journey through the Festival’s history, from its origins in the year 1968, under the name International Fantasy Film Week, until reaching the new millennium. It is both a literary and photographic journey, where we can discover many of the different anecdotes that have occurred in Sitges, the directors and stars who have visited it, as well as the details of each of the 49 editions that have been held. Also held at today’s Sunday edition was the official opening of the exhibition Lovecraft, which can be seen at the Maricel Palace until the last day of the film competition. The event was attended by the Mayor, Miquel Forns, and the director of Museums of Sitges, Vinyet Panyella