Manuel de Blas, a Spanish fantastic genre legend, is still making history in Sitges
'Possessor Uncut', 'Relic', 'Becky' and Awkward Hands', among today's featured films
Today, Monday, was a genuine day of acknowledgements and tributes to classic genre films to mark the end of the Festival's first long weekend. Actor Manuel de Blas received the Nosferatu Award for more than six decades in the business, Seven Chances recovered the mythical Euro-western Awkward Hands (1970) and the official Sitges 2020 books were presented: 'Sombras de Caligari. Cien años de cruces y diálogos con el primer gran clásico del fantástico' (Shades of Caligari. A Hundred years of crossovers and dialogues with the first great fantastic classic) and'¡A mordiscos! La increíble historia de Germán Robles, un vampiro español en México' (Bite by Bite! The incredible story of Germán Robles, a Spanish vampire in Mexico').
The Meliá Sitges Auditori kicked off with a bang this holiday Monday morning. The horror of the eagerly-awaited Relic and Possessor Uncut took over the big screen. The first, the debut feature by Australian-Japanese director Natalie Erika James, which surprised audiences at Sundance and took first place in post-pandemic American filmmaking. The film is produced by Jake Gyllenhaal and stars Emily Mortimer, and plunges us into a spiral of murky horror. Horror is also felt intensely in Possessor Uncut, the new film from Brandon Cronenberg, who won the award for best new director at Sitges 2012 with Antiviral. This time, the horror is found in a secret organization that uses brain implant technology to inhabit other people's bodies, for the purpose of making them commit murder. In the early afternoon, after Manuel de Blas received the Nosferatu Award, was the screening of Becky, by Cary Murnion & Jonathan Milott, the directors of Cooties and Bushwick, who this time serve up a tense home invasion movie that crowns Lulu Wilson as an unexpected action heroine, and comedian Kevin James as an unlikely villain.
Before the screening of Becky, Manuel de Blas took to the stage at the Auditori to receive the well-deserved tribute and the Nosferatu Award presented by the Festival's Brigadoon section. A well-known face in Spanish fantastic since the sixties and still active, De Blas has worked in more than 200 productions for film, television and theater, spanning all genres (western, comedy, drama...), with fantastic as an important pillar in his career, and including films such as Cauldron of Blood (Santos Alcocer, 1970), where he shared leading roles with Boris Karloff, The Vampires' Night Orgy (León Klimovsky, 1973) or The Hunchback of the Morgue (Javier Aguirre, 1973). At the award ceremony, Manuel de Blas, visibly emotional, thanked the organization and the audience at the Auditori for the recognition of his extensive career: " To keep on going, to resist. This is where I identify with the Sitges Festival. The only thing I want to say to you from the heart, with a shaky breath, after so many years: Thank you, moltes gràcies (thank you very much in Catalan)!”. To top off the tribute to Manuel de Blas at Sitges 2020, at 8 pm the Prado Cinema scheduled the screening of Awkward Hands, the legendary lost film that is being rediscovered in Sitges thanks to the Seven Chances section, with the restored copy from Victory Films, and where Manuel de Blas participates as an actor in this Euro-western with the Romero Marchent brothers' signature, directed by the recently deceased Rafael and penned by Joaquin in collaboration with Santiago Moncada.
To round off the Festival's fifth day and the acknowledgement of the origins of fantastic cinema, the Festival's official books for this 53rd edition were presented in the Garbí Room at the Meliá Hotel in collaboration with Editorial Hermenaute, featuring a talk with their authors. '¡A mordiscos! La increíble historia de Germán Robles, un vampiro español en México' (Bite by Bite! The incredible story of Germán Robles, a Spanish vampire in Mexico'), by Jesús Palacios, was published in 2008 as part of the Semana Negra of Gijón and covers not only the artistic career of Robles but also the most significant titles of Mexican Gothic cinema. Winner of the award for best non-fiction work in 2008 by the Asociación de Escritores de Asturia/Association of Writers of Asturias (AEA), this new illustrated edition, revised and extended by its author, also offers an interview with Germán Robles, completely unpublished until now, which he gave during the retrospective dedicated to the XXI Semana Negra of Gijón. On the other hand, 'Sombras de Caligari. Cien años de cruces y diálogos con el primer gran clásico del fantástico' (Shades of Caligari. A Hundred years of crossovers and dialogues with the first great fantastic classic), coordinated by Ángel Sala and Jordi Sánchez-Navarro, and with contributions from Lluís Rueda, Alan Salvadó, Jorge Gorostiza, Carlos Tabernero and Violeta Kovacsics, celebrates the centenary of The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, the first great fantastic and horror film classic, and explores its cinematic and cultural legacy, inviting readers to delve into the great mysteries of the most influential classic in the history of the genre.