Sitges 2021 bares its fangs and reveals its first new updates
Films by acclaimed directors like Sion Sono or Ben Wheatley, and debut filmmakers like Prano Bailey-Bond or Carlson Young, among the first confirmations
The beast awakens. The 54th Sitges - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, to be held from October 7 to 17, unleashes its feral nature and announces the first names in its lineup. An edition that will be showcasing the widest range of trends in genre films, through the multitude of styles and visions that coexist in today's panorama.
Sitges 2021's image, based on the concept of the werewolf, this year's central theme, was created by the China Madrid agency. Its designers explain that "it has been very interesting to work with an imaginary as powerful as this year's leitmotiv, but trying to transcend the pure iconography of the beast, which is already quasi pop, and attempting to suggest a much broader dialogue. Do we all possess elements of the wolf, of the inner beast? Two different faces? How do we manage our dualities? That's why we thought that a playing card could be a very attractive object to reflect this. To subvert one of these figures and illustrate that we all have a right side and an opposite side. Working with Carmen García Huerta, creator of some of the most powerful images in recent years, has been a pleasure, and she has taken the idea to an illustrated universe full of nuances and subtleties. While finding a curious symbiosis here between the brutal and the delicate."
The surprising collaboration between Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono and Nicolas Cage comes to life in Prisoners of the Ghostland, a supernatural action/horror movie. Cage plays a bank robber who, sheathed in a suit programmed to self-destruct in five days, will search for a missing Sofia Boutell.
Britain's Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers, High-Rise)will be presenting the dark, sensorial experience of In the Earth, set in a world that is searching for a cure for a lethal virus through experiments conducted in the forest. We will also get the chance to see Son, by Irish director Ivan Kavanagh, a horror drama about the courage of a mother who will have to decide how far she is willing to go to protect her son from evil forces. The Cantonese noir Limbo, by Soi Cheang, will also be at Sitges 2021, a police drama with a serial killer by the prolific Hong-Kong based filmmaker.
From Japan comes the science fiction comedy Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, directed by Junta Yamaguchi, where a café owner discovers that his television is showing images from the future, but just two minutes in advance. Sound of Violence, with its string of explicit murders, will also be at the Festival; a visceral, synaesthetic film by Alex Noyer.
Llanto maldito, by Colombian director Andrés Beltrán, is the work selected to represent Sitges at the Cannes 2021 Marché du Film's Blood Window Showcase. Pure horror in the story of a married couple undergoing a crisis and living through paranormal experiences.
As for documentaries, Rodney Ascher's A Glitch in the Matrix will be screened, a scientific, metaphysical work that poses, in a suggestive journey, the question of whether or not human beings live inside a simulation.
Seven Chances, the Festival's section programmed in collaboration with the ACCEC (Catalan Association of Film Critics and Writers) is previewing one of its features: The Amusement Park (1973). George A. Romero's lost film, rediscovered and restored in 4K by his widow, is a harrowing nightmare about growing old and the abuse of the elderly.
Despite the fact that the presence of female creators in the fantastic film industry is becoming more and more noticeable and brilliant, statistics place them at a clear disadvantage. By way of example, in the last ten years only 6% of the feature films in Sitges' official in-competition selection have been directed by women (a figure that climbs to 10% in co-direction).
WomanInFan was created with the aim of helping to improve this reality by means of three main lines of work:
1. Shedding light on the historical memory of all those women who have contributed in one way or another to the history of fantastic film. In this regard, the creation of an online documentary collection of memorabilia is being launched.
2. Raising awareness of female talent for fantastic genre as yet another language. In this regard, three grants will be awarded, thanks to the support of Vèrtix, to three female filmmakers with no background in fantastic genre but having an outstanding initial cinematic career.
3. Promoting the visibility of female filmmakers in genre films so that the country's audiovisual industry will entrust these types of projects to future female producers, directors and screenwriters. Consequently, the Sitges Film Festival is expanding its functions with the aim of producing a yearly short film written and directed by women as part of an open call for entries.
Sitges 2021's lineup will include the latest developments in fantastic films directed by women, which can be seen in different sections of the Festival. There will be movies like Censor, by British director Pran Bailey-Bond. An eighties horror movie where a film censor played by Niamh Algar (Without Name, Raised by Wolves) decides to investigate the disappearance of her sister.
The Blazing World, by North American newcomer Carlson Young, presents an epic adventure into the darkest corners of the imagination, with a cast including Dermot Mulroney and veteran Udo Kier. Canadian director Amelia Moses turns the werewolf mythos upside down in Bloodthirsty, a horror story featuring a young singer with wild instincts.
Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer's amusing documentary Alien on Stage follows a group of bus drivers and members of an amateur theater company in Dorset (UK) as they aim to create a unique play: an adaptation of the film Aliens.
Sitges Classics: werewolves and Spanish film revivals
The myth of the werewolf permeates Sitges 2021's lineup and motivates the "The Beast Within" retrospective, with some of this subgenre's best films produced over a period of four decades.
The classic The Wolf Man, by George Waggner (1941) starring Claude Rains, opens this retrospective that continues with films like The Ancines Woods (Pedro Olea, 1970), Nazareno Cruz and the Wolf (Leonardo Favio, 1975), Night of the Werewolf (Paul Naschy, 1981), The Howling (Joe Dante, 1981) and An American Werewolf in London [4K] (John Landis, 1981).
Sitges Clàssics will be recovering two Spanish films. The first is Fernando Fernán Gómez's Strange Voyage, a cult work written from a storyline by Luis García Berlanga where the monotony of a small town is only broken on Saturdays when a musical group from Madrid arrives to brighten up the lives of its inhabitants.
The second offering is the remastered 4K screening of Álex de la Iglesia's The Day of the Beast, one of the great milestones in contemporary Spanish fantastic genre.
Historias para no dormir
Fifty years after its premiere, Historias para no dormir returns with a combination of the best from the suspense genre with the power and talent of modern cinema. Rodrigo Cortés, Rodrigo Sorogoyen, Paco Plaza and Paula Ortiz have made four self-conclusive stories that will premiere exclusively at Sitges 2021 and that will allow new spectators to enjoy updated versions of the best stories by Chicho Ibáñez Serrador. This is a production by VIS and the production companies Prointel and Isla Audiovisual for Amazon Prime Video and RTVE that recovers the suspense format that revolutionized the audiovisual panorama of the 60s..
La Broma, scripted and directed by Rodrigo Cortés, is a free remake of the original story by Ibáñez Serrador that brings together Eduard Fernández, Nathalie Poza and Raúl Arévalo in a triangle of unedifying characters ready to betray each other when their personal interests require it.
Rodrigo Sorogoyen is in charge of directing El Doble, a disturbing tale co-written with Daniel Remón and starring David Verdaguer and Vicky Luengo. The story takes viewers to a not too distant future, in an increasingly dehumanized world, where artificial intelligence and machines occupy a vast and ever-growing space in human relations.
Paco Plaza directs Freddy, the new thriller co-scripted along with Beto Marini and starring Miki Esparbé, Adriana Torrebejano and Carlos Santos. This episode is set during the filming of the original series forty years ago, where the featured ventriloquist establishes a disturbing relationship with his dummy.
Directed by Paula Ortiz, scripted by Manuel Jabois and Rodrigo Cortés, and starring Dani Rovira and Inma Cuesta, El Asfalto combines suspense with surrealism in a way that is as groundbreaking and different as the original.
The Sitges - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, together with the partnership of the Marché du Film - Cannes Film Festival and INCAA International Affairs Manager Bernardo Bergeret, present the third edition of Fantastic 7, a program that previews upcoming productions in the global genre industry, promoting the connection of these films with international distribution and production representatives.
This initiative showcases seven different projects presented by seven different festivals from all over the planet, all of which share the fantastic genre as one of the identifying traits in their line-ups. In addition to Sitges, the other festivals participating in the event are: The Toronto International Film Festival, the South by Southwest, the New Zealand International Film Festival, the Guadalajara International Film Festival, the Cairo International Film Festival and the Bucheon International Film Festival (BIFAN).
Fantastic 7 is designed to bring together projects that are in different stages of production or have been completed with investors from around the world, for the purpose of promoting their final commercialization. This year, the event's godmother will be the filmmaker Mary Harron, director of the cult film American Psycho, and a leading figure in fantastic genre. Harron's inclusion also corresponds to the mission of making the role of women fantastic genre filmmakers more visible through the WomanInFan program.
The event, where Harron will be the godmother, will be held next Sunday, July 11 as part of the Marche du Film - Cannes Film Festival, simultaneously online and in person. The project chosen by Sitges is La pasajera, by Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez.
With the incorporation of the New Zealand International Film Festival, Fantastic 7 becomes the first global showcase of fantastic genre films from all continents.
SGAE Nova Autoria
The SGAE Nueva Autoría Awards organized by the SGAE and the SGAE Foundation, through the SGAE Territorial Council in Catalonia, celebrated their 20th anniversary at the Sitges Film Festival. Following the pause due to the 2020 pandemic, the finalist audiovisual works presented by Catalonia's film schools have reached the 21st edition and will be screened at the Festival once again.
The SGAE Foundation Awards are intended to discover, promote and help publicize audiovisual productions created by students at universities and film schools across Catalonia. In fact, many of the auteurs who have participated are now well-known and highly acclaimed professionals in the audiovisual sector.
Mar Coll, director and screenwriter; Carmen Fernández Villalba, screenwriter, director, writer and journalist, and Alfred Tapscott, composer of soundtracks for film, television and advertising, are the members of the jury of the SGAE Nova Autoria 2021 Awards that will be presented in the categories of best director, best screenplay and best original music.
Once again this year the Agència Catalana de la Joventut (Catalan Youth Agency), through the Carnet Jove and the management team of the 2021 Sitges - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, selects five young people who will be part of the 17th Sitges Carnet Jove Jury, an official Festival jury that will be presenting the Carnet Jove Jury Award for best film in the Official Fantastic Selection, the Anima't Award for best Animated Feature Length Film and the Anima't Award for best Animated Short Film. The goal of this collaboration is to professionalize film criticism, giving five young people interested in the film world the opportunity to be a part of one of the Sitges Festival's official juries.
The call is open and applications can be submitted until July 8th through the website: carnetjove.cat/connectat.
Book & Vinyl
Sitges' publications are on the rise and, at this 54th edition, the Festival presents a synergy between film and music through a book and a vinyl LP.
The aim of the book Tres peces per a l'assassí (Three Tunes for the Killer), published by Hermenaute, is to chronologically analyze the relationship between jazz, rock and electro in crime and horror movies during the second half of the 20th century.
The double vinyl LP Kong'n'roll, released by Sawyer Family Party, is a tribute to the Festival and to books, where 28 bands from the Spanish rock scene perform cover versions of tunes included in the films reviewed in the book. Illustrated by Guillem Bosch.
Like every year, Ediciones Minotauro will be the Festival's official publishing house. During this audiovisual event, always eager to be closely connected with the world of literature, there will be an exclusive presentation of the next winner of the Minotauro Award, a prize that recognizes the best science fiction, fantasy or horror novel written in Spanish from among all the participating projects.
Support for the 54th edition
Once again this year, the Festival is grateful for the commitment of all the cooperating institutions and companies: Moritz (main sponsor), So de Tardor (official wine), Primavera Sound (featured partner), Meliá Sitges (sponsor and official headquarters), La Vanguardia (official newspaper), Vilamòbil (official vehicle), TV3 (official TV network), Catalunya Radio (official radio) and Lavazza (official coffee).
The Festival confirms its agreements with the CCMA, CineAsia, Cinemes Verdi, China Madrid, Coca-Cola European Partners Iberia, S.L.U, DRoom, El Bandarra, Cineinforme, Cinemascomics, Ediciones Minotauro, ESCAC, FNAC, Fotogramas, FX Animation, Grupo Main, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, IES Joan Ramon Benaprès Escola Hoteleria, Japan Foundation, The Film Library of Catalonia, Planet Horror, Reial Cercle Artístic, Renfe, Selecta Visión, SGAE and Fundació SGAE, The Original Cha-Chá,Tresc and Vertix.
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 receives financing from 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), the Servei Públic d’Ocupació de Catalunya i el Fons Social Europeu (Catalan Public Employment Service and European Social Fund), and the Carnet Jove - Departament de Benestar i Família (Department of Welfare and Family).