Five actresses will be awarded prizes by the Festival a year when five female filmmakers are presenting their works in the in competition Official Selection
The time for the female view in fantastic genre films is long overdue. Joining the names of French filmmakers Coralie Fargeat, awarded the prize for Best Director a year ago for Revenge, or Julia Ducournau, who received three awards at Sitges 2016 for her controversial Raw, this year, among others, are those of American Christina Cloe, Italian Alice Rohrwacher or Japanese Mari Okada. But they aren’t alone. Whether as screenwriters, actresses, cinematographers, producers or filmmakers, female representation is more present than ever at the 51st Sitges Festival.
Tilda Swinton, Pam Grier, Josie Ho, Traci Lords and Helga Liné are the five women that the Sitges Festival will be honoring this year for their work in fantastic genre. In 1992 and brought to us by another woman, British filmmaker Sally Potter, the chameleonic Tilda Swinton took her first steps in genre with Orlando. And she hasn’t stopped since then. With almost seventy films over the course of her acting career, Swinton will be one of the big stars at Sitges 2018’s opening gala ceremony, when she’ll receive the Festival’s Grand Honorary Award before the screening of Suspiria, her latest work for now, and the film that will be opening Sitges 2018.
With over a hundred movies under her belt, Pam Grier is the great diva of blaxploitation. Starring in an endless list of films made in the 70s, like The Big Bird Cage (1972) or Coffy (1973), this actress has collaborated with directors like John Carpenter or Tim Burton, but it would be Quentin Tarantino who would immortalize her with her role in Jackie Brown in 1997. This year, the actress will be receiving the Time Machine Award. A prize that will also be going to the actress, singer and producer Josie Ho, one of the most interesting names in Hong Kong cinema from the last two decades. Her face has been seen in Sitges in movies like Exiled by Johnnie To, Motorway by Soi Cheang or the slasher shot by Pang Ho-cheung, Dream Home.
Actress, singer, model, writer, producer and director, Traci Lords has worked under the orders of directors like John Waters and has consolidated a career in fantastic genre with films like Blade, Excision or the series The Tommyknockers. Actress Helga Liné was 40 when, in 1972, she filmed one of the referential movies of her career, Horror Express, by Spanish director Eugenio Mira, and she picked up an award at the Sitges Festival. This year she’ll be back again to receive the Nosferatu Award and present a retrospective in the Brigadoon section featuring films like Horror(1963) or La Casa (1976).
Thirteen fantastic women’s views at Sitges 2018
Official Selection. The Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Smoczynska -who presented The Lure in Sitges in 2015- presents Fugue, the drama of a woman who, after going missing for two years, is forced to return to her previous life. From Italy comes Lazzaro Felice, the third movie by screenwriter and filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher, who delighted Cannes, where she picked up the award for best screenplay with this film that’s halfway between a narrative, magical realism, social drama, and science fiction. Nancy is the debut movie from American Christina Choe, screened at the Sundance Film Festival early this year.
In the Official Discovery section, viewers will travel from western to anime thanks to two women debuting in direction: Japanese Mari Okada, who after penning the screenplay to The Anthem of the Heart, begins her career as a director with Maquia, the story of a woman who has the power of never growing old and a newborn she takes care of; and American Emma Tammi who presents The Wind, a supernatural western. Finally, veteran French filmmaker Claire Denis travels into outer space with High Life, her latest production that had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.
But female presence will also be spread out over the rest of the Festival’s sections. French film director Melanie Laurent will be present in the Òrbita section with Galveston, a film based on Nic Pizzolatto’s novel of the same name that follows a dying killer in New Orleans.
In Panorama, producer Jenn Wexler debuts in direction with The Ranger, where a group of teenage punks trying to escape from the police will run into an expeditious ranger. In the documentary Life After Flash, presented in the Panorama Documenta section, Australian Lisa Downs explores the popular icon generated as a result of the Flash Gordon character, and British Aislinn Clarke debuts in direction with The Devil's Doorway, in the Midnight-X-treme section, one of this year’s most surprising independent horror films.
Meanwhile, Spanish director Laura Alvea, currently one of the most active Andalusian audiovisual professionals, presents Ánimas in the Noves Visions section, a psychological horror thriller that takes viewers on a mind-expanding trip where the line between reality and nightmares becomes a blur. In the Anima’t section, there will be a double female representation: on the one hand, American Nina Paley, who reinterprets the Easter holiday to the rhythm of a musical full of pop tunes in Seder-Masochism, and on the other, Japanese Naoko Yamada –who dazzled critics with her previous work, A Silent Voice–, and who is presenting Liz and the Blue Bird this year, where she explores her country’s youth.
Female presence in Sitges 2018’s juries also
Female representation will also be present in the juries of the Festival’s different official sections. Spanish actress and producer Carolina Bang, one of the stars of Witching & Bitching as well as the executive producer on films like 70 Binladen (7’ Big Ones), along with Swiss programmer Anaïs Emery, one of the founders of the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival in 1999 and its artistic director since 2005, are members of the Sitges 2018 Official Fantàstic Selection jury.
We also find, among others, Hong Kong actress, singer and producer Josie Ho in the Blood Windows-Méliès jury, actress Kristina Klebe in the Òrbita section, programmer Loles Fanlo as a Brigadoon jury member, and Marta Ordeig, specialist in virtual reality, in the Slatix Sitges Cocoon jury.