14-07-2020 12:00

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'Malnazidos' opens a Sitges 2020 that will be celebrating the centenary of 'The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari'

The 53rd edition, which will take place using a hybrid format combining both on-site and virtual formulas, presents a selection of the very best contemporary fantastic films

Sitges 2020 is gearing up for its annual meeting with fantastic genre fans, industry and the press at what will be a unique edition. The Festival will combine the best genre films of the moment with a close look at films that have marked the history of fantasy, through a variety of tributes. Films directed by women will have a prominent presence -a clear trend in recent years- and the role of national productions will also be predominant.

The first great fantastic genre film in film history, Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) celebrates its 100 years in existence and Sitges 2020 has adopted it as the motif for its poster, created by the China Agency. In the words of its creators, "this year we are fortunate to celebrate the first centenary in Sitges with the 100th anniversary of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. One of the indisputable fathers of fantastic and horror genre films with a perturbing vision that has influenced so many genre filmmakers. We wanted to pay homage to its unforgettable expressionist style with a reinterpretation of Sitges that emulates Holstenwall, the town imagined by artists Hermann Warm, Walter Reimann and Walter Röhrig. A distressing vision that reflects the collective hypnosis of its inhabitants and that, for a few days, will also hypnotize fantastic fans in Sitges".

Robert Wiene's film will also inspire the Shadows of Caligari retrospective, featuring major classics such as Orson Welles' The Trial, among others to be announced soon. This retrospective will be accompanied by a book, edited by Hermenaute, about the influence of Caligari on fantastic genre.

The 53rd edition of the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia will open on October 8th with the premiere of Malnazidos, the zombie action movie directed jointly by Javier Ruiz Caldera and Alberto de Toro. The film is an adaptation of Manuel Martín Ferreras' novel, set during the Spanish Civil War. The cast stars Miki Esparbé, Aura Garrido, Luis Callejo, Álvaro Cervantes and María Botto, among others. The film follows a group of fleeing soldiers from rival factions during the Civil War who will have to join forces to face a common enemy, namely zombies.

Fans of the undead are also in for a treat with the premiere of the Korean film Peninsula, the sequel to Train to Busan, which picked up the awards for Best Director going to Yeon Sang-ho and Best Special Effects at Sitges 2016.

One of this year's most eagerly awaited releases is Relic, the feature debut by Australian director Natalie Erika James, which surprised audiences at Sundance and topped the post-pandemic movie charts in the US. Produced by Jake Gyllenhaal and starring Emily Mortimer, the film plunges us into an obscure spiral of terror.

Independent horror from different origins, and directed mostly by women, will have a strong presence at the Festival with pieces such as the British The Show directed by Mitch Jenkins and written by comic book guru Alan Moore; the French Jumbo by Zoé Wittock; the American 12 Hour Shift by Brea Grant and the Canadian Slaxx by Elza Kephart. Sitges 2020 will also feature a good number of examples of festive terror, targeting genre fans, with films like Steven Kostanski's Psycho Goremania, Karl Holt's Benny Loves You and Kimo Stamboel's The Queen of Black Magic.

Other films that have been confirmed for this 53rd edition will offer a wide array of fantastic styles. From horror to science fiction and thrillers, films yet to be discovered will pack the Festival, such as Robin Pront's The Silencing, a revenge film starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Annabelle Wallis. As for science fiction, you can see The Sputnik, a Russian film directed by Egor Abramenko, a space adventure with aliens. Also Anthony Scott Burns' Come True, with a teen tormented by terrible nightmares. Archive, Gavin Rothery's debut feature film, deals with the subject of artificial intelligence, while Just Philippot's The Nuée presents a peculiar locust infested horror drama, and Ryan Kruger's Fried Barry depicts a drug addict anti-hero who is abducted by aliens.

Vampires couldn't possibly be missing from the annual event either, and this year they will be represented by Comrade Drakulich, a Hungarian film directed by Márk Bodzsár, a black comedy with a Cuban revolution hero in vampire format. Also arriving from Hungary is Péter Bergendy's Post Mortem, a ghost story set during World War I.

In this first lineup preview, animation has its own space with Lupin III: The First, the continuation of the manga saga created by Monkey Punch that has become an icon in Japan, directed by Takashi Yamazaki.

Catalan films

In addition to the spectacular opening with Malnazidos, local cinema will be very present at Sitges 2020. The Festival will be offering the premiere of David Victori's No Matarás, a thriller starring Mario Casas who brings to life a character who suddenly finds himself against the ropes.

Early 20th century Barcelona is the setting for La vampira de Barcelona, a terrifying drama based on a true story directed by Lluis Danés and featuring a large cast of Catalan actors including Nora Navas, Sergi López, Francesc Orella, Pablo Derqui , Bruna Cusí, Roger Casamajor and Nuria Prims. Also featured will be A Perfect Enemy, Kike Maíllo's latest release, an adaptation of Amélie Nothomb's novel, starring Tomasz Kot, Athena Strata, Dominique Pinon and Marta Nieto.

We will soon be announcing more selected Catalan productions.

Latin American Fantastic

Argentinian filmmaking will be in full force at the Festival's 53rd edition, presenting some of the season's most outstanding genre films. Like Fernando Spiner's disturbing Inmortal, a fantasy drama that explores the boundaries between life and death. Also revolving around this theme is Los que vuelven, a visually powerful thriller.

Cristian Ponce's Historia de lo oculto closes out this first batch of Latin American works with a black and white horror film dealing with political corruption and conspiracy

Great classics with maximum quality  

Sitges 2020 is the ideal setting to commemorate the anniversaries of two greatest fantastic cinema milestones of all times. Elephant Man, David Lynch's stunning masterpiece, celebrates its 40th anniversary and with a 4K technology remastering and the Festival will revisit the terrible story of John Merrick - in a magnificent performance by John Hurt - which has remained intact in the retinas of all film lovers.

Another big fantastic blockbuster, Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall, will celebrate its 30th anniversary with the fans, also in 4K resolution. This science fiction film, which adapted a story by Philip K. Dick, and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, is part of the collective imaginary and also connects with the Shadows of Caligari retrospective, as it is a film that is strongly influenced by this classic.

 A new look at major figures

Documentaries on big names in cinema will also be present at the 53rd edition of the Sitges Festival. In Kubrick by Kubrick, director Gregory Monro rediscovers new and exclusive footage by the filmmaker, where he reflects on his philosophy of life, presenting an essential documentary and a definitive tribute to Stanley Kubrick.

Bruce Lee will also receive his tribute with Be Water, Bao Nguyen's documentary that, based on previously unreleased material, portrays the legendary actor and martial arts master, whose life was fleeting but intense.

Brigadoon and the Nosferatu Award

At Sitges 2020, the Brigadoon section will feature a strong presence of Latin American cinema. Al morir la matinée (Argentina, Uruguai), directed by Maximiliano Contenti, is a new approach to giallo with references to Bigas Luna's film Anguish.

Cabrito (Brazil), by Luciano de Azevedo, returns to the idea of the short film of the same name, and creates a suffocating and morbid feature film full of pure horror. On the other hand, Cuidado con lo que deseais (Mexico), by Agustín Oso Tapia, presents a story starring children and adults, where crimes and betrayals are very present, with the backdrop of Puppet Theater. 

As for documentaries, Brigadoon will be presenting Baba Puzzle, a piece focusing on the figure of Italian director Lamberto Bava, director of classics like Demons and Macabro and son of the legendary Mario Bava. Directed by Paola Settimini and Daniele Ceccarini. The Quiet Revolution: State, Society and the Canadian Horror Film, by Xavier Mendikat and Philip Escott, is a film study of the Canadian horror film scene. An analysis with its protagonists exploring influences, history and tradition within this genre. Segrelles. Universal Illustrator, directed by Ignacio Estrela, follows the life and work of Valencian painter José Segrelles (1885-1969), one of the illustrators who had the greatest impact on contemporary artists. An artistic figure of international renown recognized by filmmakers such as Guillermo del Toro, one of the guests appearing in the documentary.

This year's Nosferatu Award goes to actor Manuel de Blas, a visible face on the national fantastic scene since the 1960s and who is still active. De Blas has worked in over 200 productions for film, television and theatre, spanning all genres (western, comedy, drama ...), with fantasy as an important pillar in his career, including titles such as El coleccionista de cadáveres (Santos Alcocer, 1970), where he co-starred alongside Boris Karloff, la orgía nocturna de los vampiros (León Klimovsky, 1973) and El jorobado de la morgue (Javier Aguirre, 1973).

Sitges Film Hub

The Festival's Industry section is back in full force at this year's edition, where the already acclaimed face-to-face Industry Hub sessions by Catalan Films & TV at the Hotel Meliá Sitges will be complemented with a virtual selection of activities and meetings designed for sector professionals.

Under the umbrella of the Sitges Film Hub, the previous edition of the Festival hosted over 40 activities, including round tables, master classes, mentoring activities and meetings with Festival guests. More than 1,800 attendees were present at the activities where 42 projects were also presented in different pitching sessions.

For the sixth year running, the Festival and the Filmarket Hub platform have joined forces to organize the eagerly awaited Sitges Pitchbox, an international pitching event focusing on genre projects that are under development. The 2020 edition will be held in virtual format and, new this year, will also include a pitching session for European TV series. The call for projects starts this July 23rd at https://www.filmarkethub.com/calls.

The Festival's initiative to bring literature and Fantastic films closer together, Sitges Taboo'ks, will once again present four literary works (novel, theatre, short story and graphic novel or comic). The program invites producers interested in the projects for the purpose of promoting adaptation agreements. The activity will also include a master class given by a major personality from both sectors: film and literature. The deadline for submissions of works is August 18th.

Producers Meet Producers, a mentoring program targeting young producers, is also celebrating its sixth edition. The activity, organized by the PAC (Audiovisual Producers of Catalonia) and the Sitges Town Council (Economic Promotion), in collaboration with Sitges Film Hub, aims to highlight and give visibility to the figure of the audiovisual producer, both inside and outside the sector, to generate industry and build a network with emerging talent.

Sitges Film Hub will publish its full schedule of activities in September.

Support for the 53rd Edition

Once again this year, the Festival is grateful for the commitment and of all the collaborating institutions and companies: Moritz (main sponsor), CaixaBank & Fundació “la Caixa” and Deluxe (collaborator), Meliá Sitges (sponsor and official headquarters), La Vanguardia (official newspaper), TV3 (official TV).

The Festival can confirm its agreements with CineAsia, Cinesa, China Madrid, Coca-Cola European Partners Iberia, S.L.U, DRoom, Ediciones Minotauro, ESCAC, Fotogramas, FX Animation, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, IES Joan Ramon Benaprès Escola Hoteleria, Japan Foundation, Reial Cercle Artístic, Renfe, Selecta Visión, SGAE, The Original Cha-Chá andi Tr3SC.

Sitges 2020 is organized thanks to the commitment of the Sitges Town Hall, Catalonian Generalitat’s Department of Culture’s Institut Català de les Empreses Culturals (Catalan Institute of Cultural Enterprises), and is funded 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).

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