Sitges 2019, the power of the most avant-garde and heterogeneous fantastic genre
Sam Neill, Patrick Wilson, Aaron Paul, Maribel Verdú, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Asia Argento and Pupi Avati, among the big name guests at the 52nd edition
In addition to an Official Selection contemplating the latest fantastic genre trends, also featured this year are the projects found in Noves Visions, Òrbita, Anima’t and Seven Chances and the extraordinary level of the short film selection
Just one week away from its kickoff, Sitges is already revving its engines with the full force of an edition ready to win the starting positions in all realms of the fantastic genre: films, series, virtual reality, industry and side events, accompanied by the presence of the biggest names of the year, who will complete the perfect machinery of one of the most comprehensive, wide-ranging and exciting lineups in recent years.
The yellow and ocher post-apocalyptic landscapes full of dust and rust from the saga and phenomenon entitled Mad Max, arriving from the Australian Antipodes, will impregnate the Mediterranean town of Sitges for eleven days. And the best way to show it will be at the opening gala where Australian actor Patrick Wilson will receive a Time Machine Award, making the most of his visit to present the opening film, In the Tall Grass, along with its director Vincenzo Natali. Also from the Antipodes, and in this case New Zealand, Sam Neill will be arriving to receive the Grand Honorary Award that the Festival will be giving him this year for his lifetime achievement at the closing gala ceremony with the screening of the film The Vigil, Keith Thomas’s surprising feature film debut.
From October 3rd to the 13th, Sitges will be offering the best genre films of the moment, at an edition featuring the power of feature film debuts, the great presence of filmmakers, a selection of the most outstanding and wide-ranging animation of the moment and a top level growth in the short section. With an Official Selection including names like Robert Eggers, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet, Richard Stanley, Jonas Alexander Arnby, Fabrice Du Welz, Gaspar Noé or Aaron Morhead and Justin Benson, the selection of shorts also reflects their importance and validity as an essential genre format, with great names committed to them such as Yorgos Lanthimos with Nimic, or Chloe Sevigny’s first foray into directing with White Echo. And the Festival won’t be forgetting about a renowned and auteur-oriented cinema that can be discovered in Òrbita, the section dedicated to bringing together the latest trends in thrillers, Noves Visions with its commitment to innovation and experimentation with cinematic languages, and the refocusing of the Seven Chances section, as it now reaches a quarter of a century, with the rediscovery of fantastic films, forgotten, ill-treated or simply lost in time. In addition to a Brigadoon section where Italian cinema, Italian science fiction exploitation and documentaries become the protagonists of an edition that will be presenting its Nosferatu award to director Pupi Avati.
The Festival will continue to maintain its five screens where most of the films included in its official sections will be shown: Auditori Meliá Sitges, Retiro, Prado, Brigadoon and the Tramuntana Room. But you can also see some of them at other of the film competition’s theaters, with free admission to the Hort de Can Falç or the Miramar Cultural Center, where we will be offering the most cutting-edge virtual reality experiences.
Side events throughout the Festival
Presentations of books, festivals and DVD and Blu-ray editions, meetings and autograph signing sessions will take place in the customary FNAC Marquee. More than thirty presentations of the latest developments in comic, manga, novels and feature films, with the fantastic genre as a common denominator, including the Sitges 2019 official book, Apocalypse Domani. La década dorada de la exploitation italiana de ciencia ficción. (1977-1990) / Apocalypse Domani. . The golden decade of Italian science fiction exploitation. (1977-1990), coordinated by Ángel Sala and published by the Hermenaute publishing house; and other titles such as Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse, Cuando las carátulas tenían sentimientos (When Book Covers had Feelings), Supernovas. Una historia feminista de la ciencia ficción audiovisual (Supernovas. A Feminist History of Audiovisual Science Fiction),Giallo: Crimen, sexualidad y estilo en el cine de género italiano (Giallo: Crime, Sexuality and Style in Italian Genre Films) or Terror en serie: De "Alfred Hitchcock Presenta” a “Stranger Things” (Serial Horror: From "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" to "Stranger Things").
In this same venue the Queer Kong Award will be presented in the I Recognition of diversity, on Sunday, October 4. This award aims to reward films and professionals with contributions to diversity and presence of the LGBT+ community participating in the Festival. The jury is made up of professionals from the field of communication, the audiovisual industry, journalism and a representative from the NGO Stop Sida, organizer of the award in collaboration with the Festival.
Another more family oriented meeting place that is also fit for children will be Fantàstic Kids, which this year changes its location from the Hort de Can Falç, which will continue to program our Al Fresco Cinema, to the Miramar Cultural Center. For the second year in a row, thanks to the Festival’s collaboration with Obra Social La Caixa, in this venue you will be able to perform activities related to the world of cinema so that the little ones can start to become familiar with the audiovisual language and world, like a free workshop to learn how to make a simple fantastic genre short film, a talk by the Participa Méliès Competition organization to present its 8th edition and offer the keys to success to win it, or the open, looped projection of the best shorts from the competition’s last edition.
Music will also have its space this year. The last weekend of the Festival, on Friday, October 11th, at 10 pm, for a few hours the Noray Marquee at the Hotel Meliá will become the most fantastic venue in the world, with the exclusive performances of Hermann Kopp and Nightcrawler. An exclusive concert with a limited capacity for lovers of the disturbing and captivating atmospheres of horror movie soundtracks.
Thanks to the Festivals’ collaboration with Planet Horror, the only horror film platform in Spain, produced by AMC Networks and Redrum, this year the Sitges Zombie Walk, on Saturday, October 5th, will have a guest of honor to kick off the most international zombie encounter in the world: Charles Band. One of the most prolific producers of Hollywood B Movies during the 80s and 90s, who will make the most of his visit to receive a Time Machine Award, present a retrospective of his filmography in Brigadoon and participate in a convo with his fan in Sitges Encounters.
From October 3rd to 13th at the exit of the Meliá Sitges Auditorium and in honor of the 52nd edition’s leitmotiv, all those attending the Festival will be able to see the exhibition Mad Max World - An Apocalyptic Comic Tribute. Coordinated by the filmmaker, writer and comics expert Borja Crespo, it brings together large-format illustrations by comic book artists, illustrators, designers and filmmakers. They all pay homage to one of the Sitges Festival’s main themes, the Mad Max saga and other examples of post-apocalyptic films, Italian exploitation films, strange dystopias, trash movies, lost worlds, highway savages, new barbarians, road warriors... Landscapes of a puzzling future that may be just around the corner, where the law of the strongest reigns and anything can happen.
And in the Miramar Cultural Center building where this year, in addition to the VR 360 space, all the family activities of Fantàstic Kids will be offered, throughout the Festival you will be able to see the original Schools Exhibition, with drawings made by the children from Sitges’ schools with themes revolving around the Festival.
Consolidation of the Sitges Film Hub
The Festival’s professional section will be hosting more than 30 activities between panel discussions, presentations of projects under development, meetings with guests and master class sessions in order to offer the accredited guests and the Festival’s general public current content from the audiovisual sector and fantastic cinema.
The Sitges Pitchbox, an activity presenting nine fantastic genre fiction feature film projects in a pitch session, celebrates its fifth edition this year. The activity will feature the special participation of film director Vincenzo Natali, who will open the event on Friday, October 4th at the Hotel Meliá, with an introduction to his career. The presentation of the projects is performed through the platform of the co-organizing entity, Filmarket Hub. The seven projects that make up the official selection are: El pulpo negro by Santiago Calvete, Luis Murillo Moreno, Luis Murillo Arias and Hernán Moyano and directed by Nicolás Onetti (Argentina), Evasión by Cristian Jiménez and Manuela Infante (Chile), Hive Mind by Demian Fox and directed by Conor McMahon (Ireland), Kintsugi by Aitor Uribarri and Eva Montoya (Spain), Singular by Alberto Gastesi and Alex Merino (Spain), The Plague Doctor by Ninon Schubert and directed by Michael O'Connor (Germany) and Vesper Seeds by Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper (Lithuania).
The Blood Red Carpet program is also celebrating its fifth anniversary. The program, promoting the Festival’s young acting talent and a pioneer in the entire country, selects two young actresses and two young actors who have shown a promising career in their country of origin to be presented to industry and the international media outlets. This year, the selected candidates are Claudia Trujillo, Mireia Oriol, Pol Monen and David Solans. The program also invites two international casting directors to meet the young actors. On this occasion they will be accompanied by the casting director Nancy Bishop and Stéphane Foenkinos. The awards ceremony will be on Thursday, October 10th, at the Auditori, before the screening of Le Daim.
The Festival’s initiative that seeks to bring Fantastic literature and film closer together, Taboo'ks, will present four literary works and the case study of a project in the process of adaptation at its third edition. The event will open with the special participation of the screenwriter Nicole Perlman, responsible for the adaptations of Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn, 2014) and Captain Marvel (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, 2019) and who will talk about the process of adapting comics to film with a Q&A. The event will continue with panel discussion “From Books to Movies: Film Festivals as Matchmakers”, a meeting with the main people responsible for the programs to adapt books for the big screen at the Cannes Film Festival, La Biennale di Venezia and Sitges.
The works that will be presented at Taboo'ks 2019 are: Iménez by Luis Noriega, L’últim esmolet byAniol Florensa, Els àngels ens miren by Marc Pastor an Rojo, a trilogy of vampire novels by Carlos Sisí (Los caminantes), published by Ediciones Minotauro. The case study L’altre costat del mirall: adaptacions screen-to-book” (“The other side of the mirror: screen-to-book adaptations”) will be by Francisco Javier Sanz Grajera, director of Grupo Planeta’s literary agency, who will deal with opposite cases: audiovisual products taken to paper, as we will see thanks to the agreement that Planet has negotiated with Netflix.
This year, the Festival is also increasing its meetings with the main guests to get to know their careers, concerns and personality up close and in person in Sitges Encounters. The Grand Honorary Prize winner this year, Sam Neill; the legendary musician of The Misfits and now also a film director, Glenn Danzig; Charles Band, one of the major producers and distributors of B Movies, winner of the Time Machine Award this year, and in charge of kicking off the Sitges Zombie Walk; and the fantastic winner of the Méliès Career Award this year, Asia Argento. Also featured among the convos and panel discussions is the master class by the editor and the Official Fantastic Jury Member Mary Jo Markey, Editing 'Star Wars VII-The Force Awakens, panel discussion How to Create a Monster, with the special participation of Javier Botet (actor), Paco Plaza (film director) and José Manuel Meneses (special makeup effects technician).
The Film Hub section will also host various events in collaboration with the country’s main audiovisual entities. This year, the BCN FILM FEST organizes the round table Advantages of Traveling by Train: the adaptation of a novel to the big screen, a conversation between the director of the film, Artiz Moreno, and the author of the book Antonio Orejudo. Also the entity PROA (Productors Audiovisuals Federats-Federated Audiovisual Producers) organizes the meeting New Scenario: Who is the producer? to discuss the new role of the producer in the age of platforms. This panel discussion will feature the outstanding presence of Jérôme Paillard, executive director of the Marché du Film - Festival de Cannes that, together with Blood Window and the Sitges Festival, is responsible for the Fantastic 7 project, a forum aimed at promoting talent within the genre industry and favoring its connection with potential business partners. Among the clips that will be part of Sitges Coming Soon, Baby will be presented, produced by Basque filmmaker Juanma Bajo Ulloa.
The Festival’s professional section will once again feature the Industry Hub - Networking Area (by Catalan Films & TV) space, a meeting point for sector professionals, thanks to the collaboration of the Institut Català de les Empreses Audiovisuals (Catalan Institute of Audiovisual Companies).
20 years of the SGAE Nova Autoria Awards
For the 20th year running, the SGAE, the SGAE Foundation and the Sitges - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia celebrate the SGAE Nova Autoria Awards, - as a part of the Noves Visions section, offering emerging auteurs from universities and film schools around Catalonia the possibility of exhibiting their works and making them known within the framework of a festival of international scope. The finalist short films presented will be screened on Saturday, October 5th at Cinema Prado, and afterwards in the Cañateca area the best screenplay, best direction and best original music will be decided on. To celebrate the two decades of collaboration, the SGAE, the SGAE Foundation and the Sitges Festival are preparing a retrospective of the awards and a party with the winners and finalists from all these years, schools, universities, members of the jury and industry, for Sunday, October 6th, as a part of the Festival. This 2019, the jury of the SGAE Nova Autoria Awards is made up of Mar Coll, director and screenwriter; Carla Simón, director and screenwriter, and Alfred Tapscott, composer of soundtracks for cinema, television and advertising.
Official Fantàstic Jury
Five important fantastic genre figures make up the Official Fantàstic jury of this year’s Sitges Film Festival. On the one hand, Mary Jo Markey, an editor who trained beside Dede Allen, during the 90s she was an assistant editor on independent films like The Guardian (1990). Her work in the Felicity series forged a stable collaboration with JJ Abrams, and she was in charge of editing the first two seasons of Alias and the pilot of one of television’s most influential series, Lost, which earned her an Emmy. Anurag Kashyap, director, producer, screenwriter and actor, who drew attention in international circles thanks to the criminal epic genre film Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) and who participated in the official section of Sitges in 2016 with psycho thriller Raman Raghav 2.0.
Alan Jones, a film critic and writer specializing in the fantastic genre. His articles have appeared in the most internationally renowned specialized publications, like Cinefantastique, Starburst and Fangoria. He is co-director of FrightFest, the top film competition in the United Kingdom dedicated to genre. The Australian Russell Mulcahy, director of one of the most emblematic films in the fantastic cinema of the eighties, Highlander (1986), and genre films The Shadow (1994), Resurrection (1999) or Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), he is also responsible for the production of music videos for AC / DC, Elton John, Queen, Duran and Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles, which inaugurated MTV’s broadcasts. And Nancy Bishop, casting director with offices in London and Prague, has worked with filmmakers such as Guillermo del Toro, Bong Joon-ho and Brad Bird. In 2001, she was nominated for the Emmy for the miniseries Anna Frank; The Whole Story, and has recently worked on productions for Netflix, Amazon and Warner.
XV Carnet Jove de Sitges Jury
Once again this year, the Agència Catalana de la Joventut (Catalan Youth Agency(, through its Carnet Jove "Connecta't" program and the managing team of the Sitges 2019 - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, has selected 5 young men and women who will be part of the XV Sitges Carnet Jove Jury, an official Festival jury the that will present the Carnet Jove Jury Award for the best feature film in the Official Fantàstic Selection, the Anima't Award for Best Animated Feature Film and the Anima't Award for Best Animated Short Film. The objective of this collaboration is to professionalize film reviews, giving an opportunity to five young people interested in the film world to be part of one of the Sitges Festival’s official juries.
Support for the 52nd Edition
Once again this year, the Festival is grateful for the commitment and of all the collaborating institutions and companies: Moritz (main sponsor), Obra Social “la Caixa” (social partner) Mistinguett Sparkling (sponsor), la XAL (sponsor), Meliá Sitges (sponsor and official headquarters), Deluxe (collaborator), La Vanguardia (official newspaper), TV3 (official TV), and Jeep Turiauto (official vehicle).
This year the Festival is also expanding its section of collaborators, among which agreements have already been confirmed with SGAE, Fotogramas, official Iberia, Renfe, Fnac, Ediciones Minotauro, Tr3SC, Cafés Candelas, Japan Foundation, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, IES Joan Ramón Benaprés Escola Hosteleria, Fundació PKU, CineAsia, Jet Entertinment, FX Animation, The Original Cha-Chá, D.O Ribera del Duero, Cathay Pacific, Spamflix, Johnnie Walker, Movistar +, Valrhona, China Madrid, Samsung, ESCAC, Cinesa, Coca-Cola European Partners Ibera, S.L.U, Embotits Bundó, Fundació Hospital Sant Joan Baptista de Sitges, MAIN, Mind the Gap, Reial Cercle Artistic, Selecta Visión, SGAE and Planet Horror.
Sitges 2019 is organized thanks to the participation of the Sitges Town Hall and the Catalonian Generalitat’s Department of Culture’s Institut Català de les Empreses Culturals (Catalan Institute of Cultural Enterprises) and is supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports’ Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales (Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts), the Barcelona Diputació (City Council) and the Carnet Jove - Departament de Benestar i Família (Department of Welfare and Family).
The Festival’s institutional press conference has been made possible thanks to the collaboration of the Reial Cercle Artístic de Barcelona (Royal Artistic Circle of Barcelona).