09-09-2019 12:00

News

Seven Chances: in search of the lost fantastic

The section will present rarities and restored copies of films by Alejandro Jodorowsky, David Cronenberg, Björk and Jesús Franco

Seven Chances, the section that the Sitges - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia programs in collaboration with ACCEC- Association of Film Critics and Writers of Catalonia, once again defends the hidden history of fantastic genre. A line of programming premiering successfully in 2018, enforcing the commitment of the Festival and the Association to the dissemination and critical reexamination of works that are difficult to see and often forgotten in the canons of genre cinema.

In this regard, the opening of Seven Chances 2019 will be a major declaration of intentions, welcoming the premiere in Catalonia of Vaya luna de miel. It is a film shot by Jesús Franco in 1979 and was unreleased, lost in the filmmaker's abundant filmography, until its rediscovery earlier this year by the Spanish Film Library. Starring Lina Romay, a regular in his films, the movie is a sui generis adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's The Gold-Bug that unabashedly blends the elements of a romantic comedy and those of an adventure film. The screening will be presented by Álex Mendibil, author of the first doctoral thesis dedicated to Jesús Franco’s work and whose research led to the discovery of the film's negatives in the Film Library archives.

The section will also include the international presentation of the new cut that Alejandro Jodorowsky has made of The Rainbow Thief, the extravagant fable he made in 1990 and that, despite having a cast headed by Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole and Christopher Lee, had a very limited circulation, relegated until now to a marginalized place in the Chilean creator’s career. Equally relatively unknown is The Juniper Tree, by Nietzchka Keene, the American director who went to Iceland in 1986 to shoot a black and white adaptation with no sweeteners of the witch tale of the same name popularized by the Brothers Grimm. The film stars a very young Björk, whose presence was already captivating long before becoming an avant-garde pop star.

The brand new restoration of the full version of Crash will also be screened in Seven Chances. This is one of David Cronenberg’s fundamental works, one which after being presented with great controversy at the Cannes festival in 1996, saw its distribution affected by censorship in more than a few countries. Personally supervised by its auteur, this new unadulterated copy exhibits the steel and badly damaged flesh with which the Canadian filmmaker brought J.G. Ballard's prose to the screen in all its glory.

Plunging even deeper into the bottomless waters of genre, Sitges will highlight two other unfairly ignored pearls. On the one hand, Hiroshi Matsuno’s The Living Skeleton, one of the few fantastic productions undertaken in the sixties by the prestigious Shochiku production company, home of Yasujiro Ozu and other distinguished Japanese auteurs. The film, which barely circulated outside its country of origin, presents an unusual mixture of modern pirates, ghost ships, hidden identities and necrophilia. And on the other, Tammy & the T-Rex, a delusional parody of teen movies directed by Stewart Raffill - responsible for films like The Philadelphia Experiment and Mac & Me - and starring Denise Richards as the girlfriend of a tyrannosaurus that receives a brain transplanted from Paul Walker. Radically butchered in its failed premiere in theaters to access a younger audience, the restored version that will be seen in Seven Chances recovers all the gore gags that were an integral part of one of the most indescribable projects that will be seen in Sitges this year.

Finally, the “seventh occasion” this 2019 represents the section’s most educational side, making room for Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror, a recent documentary by Xavier Neal-Burgin that reflects on the representation of African-American culture in horror movies. A story of racism, blaxploitation and pride that sheds light on a scarcely studied topic that deserves more attention.

All Seven Chances films will be screened at the Casino Prado Theater and will be presented by ACCEC members, offering an unrepeatable occasion to discover and discuss the treasures from the lost history of fantastic.

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