'Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon', by Ana Lily Amirpour, to open Sitges 2021
The Festival will also present the world premiere of Álex de la Iglesia’s 'Veneciafrenia', a savage blend of giallo and slasher filmed in the monumental Italian city
The doors to Sitges 2021 will be opening on October 7th and, for the first time in its history, it will be a film directed by a woman that will be kicking the Festival off. Ana Lily Amirpour, who visited the Festival in 2014 with A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and in 2016 with The Bad Batch, will present Mona Lisa and The Blood Moon, her new film starring Jeon Jong-seo as a young woman with unusual abilities who escapes from a mental asylum.
The 54th Sitges - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia is programming the premieres that genre fans are most eagerly awaiting. Films like Lamb, an Icelandic folk-horror movie by filmmaker Valdimar Jóhannsson and starring Noomi Rapace, reflect the brilliant moment that Nordic cinema is experiencing in fantastic genre, and was one of the most talked about films in the Un Certain Regard section at the recent Cannes Film Festival.
Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (Al interior, Kandisha), Festival regulars, are back with The Deep House, a supernatural underwater horror film. The latest chapter in the Halloween saga will not be absent from the event: Halloween Kills, by David Gordon Green, with an indefatigable Jamie Lee Curtis, will be seen at Sitges 2021. Michael Myers and Laurie Strode will meet again in the twelfth sequel of an essential franchise that is very dear to its fans.
Horror with Alex de la Iglesia's personal touch will be arriving with the world premiere of Veneciafrenia, the slasher and giallo hybrid launching the new The Fear Collection label, an initiative that will give voice to genre directors to produce original feature films, and that will also have its official presentation in Sitges. In Veneciafrenia -where De la Iglesia brings back actor Armando de Razza- the most beautiful city in the world will be the terrifying backdrop where Ingrid García Jonsson and Silvia Alonso will have to fight to save their lives. Along with Álex de la Iglesia's film, there will be other representative works from this year's Spanish genre bounty, such as the world premiere of Visitante, Alberto Evangelio's debut film, a project supported by Productors Audiovisuals de Catalunya (PAC) Producers Meets Producers and with the participation of the Catalan production company Life & Pictures. A disquieting story of characters lost in parallel dimensions starring Iria del Río, Miguel Fernández, Jan Cornet and Sandra Cervera. Also arriving will be the world premiere of The Beast, a Netflix Original produced by the Catalan company Rodar y Rodar and that marks David Casademunt's feature debut, following the story of a family that lives isolated from the rest of the world and that will have to fight against a terrifying presence. Leading the cast are Inma Cuesta and Roberto Álamo.
Two representatives of the most festive and referential Spanish fantastic genre will be at Sitges 2021 with the world premieres of The Passenger, directed by Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez, a road movie with an unwanted alien guest on board, and Jacinto, a Galician production directed by Javi Camino, a rural horror movie that the director himself defines as a cross between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Forrest Gump. Completing the national panorama will be Three, the eagerly awaited film directed by Juanjo Giménez, winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Best Short Film in 2017 for Time Code which went on to be nominated for an Oscar in this category. Produced by Frida Films and starring Marta Nieto and Miki Esparbé, it tells the story of the disturbing odyssey of a sound designer whose brain processes sound later than images.
Animated films will feature three world icons, Israeli Ari Folman (Waltz with Bashir, The Congress), Japanese Mamoru Hosoda (The Boy and the Beast, Mirai, My Little Sister), and American Phil Tippett, who will present Where Is Anne Frank, Belle: The Dragon and the Freckled Princess, and Mad God, respectively. The first follows the journey of Kitty, the imaginary friend to whom Anne Frank dedicated her diary, while Belle tells the story of Suzu, a 17-year-old girl who, after losing her mother, moves in with her father. In the case of the film directed by Tippett -a master of special effects with two Oscars for Return of the Jedi and Jurassic Park- the movie is a stop-motion nightmare that took him thirty years to complete.
More big names. Asian Cinema will be landing in Sitges in full force. Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou will present Cliff Walkers, an elegant spy thriller set in Manchukuo, a puppet state of the Empire of Japan in China during the 1930s. Takashi Miike, a Festival stalwart, returns to the Yokai universe with The Great Yokai War:Guardians, where Kei Watanabe, a student who has inherited the blood of a legendary Yokai hunter, is destined to save the world from destruction. The Japanese film The Deer King, by Ando Masahi (animation director of Spirited Away and Your Name) and Masayuki Miyaji will also be added to the line-up. A fantastic drama of survival and pandemics based on Nahoko Uehashi's novels. And the Thai film The Medium, directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun, tells the story of a shaman's inheritance.
Other outstanding names at this year's Sitges Film Festival will undoubtedly be Demonic, where Neill Blomkamp, director of emblematic science fiction epics like District 9 or Elysium, opts for supernatural horror, and where the limits of reality are distorted to the point of confusion and new technologies will invoke real demons based on a mother-daughter conflict. Not just one, but two films by Edgar Wright can be enjoyed at the Festival. Last Night in Soho, the time traveling thriller starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie, and the documentary The Sparks Brothers, a devotional piece on this musical duo that emerged in Los Angeles during the 1970s.
Sitges 2016 award winner Gabriele Mainetti (They Call Me Jeeg) will present Freaks Out, a film about extraordinary creatures set in a circus in Italy during World War II and that will have its international premiere in Sitges after participating in the Official Selection at the Venice Film Festival. Meanwhile, Simon Barret, the screenwriter behind the famous You're Next and The Guest, both by Adam Wingard, will be presenting Seance, a personal tribute to slashers starring Suki Waterhouse. And Belgian Fabrice Du Welz, whose films Adoration and Alleluia have been screened at other editions of the Festival, will return with Inexorable, starring Benoit Poelvoorde and a disturbing housekeeper.
Debut feature films will play a prominent role at Sitges 2021, especially those directed by women. In addition to the previously announced names of Pran Bailey-Bond (Censor) or Carlson Young (The Blazing World), joining the line-up is British artist and filmmaker Charlotte Colbert, who debuts with the psychological thriller She Will -with a musical score by Clint Mansell- about a woman who, following surgery, goes into a retreat in rural Scotland, opening up questions about her very existence. Fellow British filmmaker Camille Griffin will present Silent Night, a film that isn't what it seems and features a spectacular cast including Keira Knightley, Annabelle Wallis, Matthew Goode and Lily-Rose Deep.
Sitges 2021's leitmotiv, the werewolf and the beast within, will have a continuous presence at the Festival beyond the already announced retrospective that will be offering emblematic films on the subject like The Wolf Man, Universal's classic film directed by George Waggner and starring Lon Chaney Jr.; Joe Dante’s The Howling, or the 4K restored copy of An American Werewolf in London. In addition, rarities and variations on the theme such as Leonardo Favio's Nazareno Cruz and the Wolf; The Beast, an erotic version of the legend directed by Walerian Borowzyck, as well as rediscoveries of Spanish fantastic film classics such as Jacinto Molina's Night of the Werewolf or Pedro Olea's The Ancines Woods. Among the recent projects revolving around this theme, the Festival has selected the horror film Eight for Silver, directed by Sean Ellis, set in a small, remote village in the late 19th century, where the attack of a wild animal is being investigated. In a humorous tone, Josh Ruben's Werewolves Within, adapts the video game of the same name in a zany film full of jokes and frights that will be screened in Sitges before its release on Amazon Prime. These films are in addition to the previously announced Bloodthirsty, Amelia Moses' innovative she-wolf movie.
The Brigadoon section, which features alternative productions, presents a preview of its line-up. Witches, curses and demonic cults are present in Pierre Tsigaridi's Two Witches, about a cursed inheritance, or Justin Lee's Hellblazers, about a satanic sect and set in the late 80s. Meanwhile, The Nights Belong to Monsters, by Argentine Sebastian Perillo, presents a teenager who is being bullied and who meets a mysterious dog, and Spanish film The Last Call: El último tren al Rock'n Roll, by Ignacio Malagón, revolves around the disturbing disappearance of a band’s singer and sound technician.
Brigadoon will also present a wide-ranging selection of documentaries, many of them made by female directors. Some highlights include Antonietta De Lillo's Fulci Talks - Uncut Conversation with Lucio Fulci, a journey through the films of "Gorefather" Lucio Fulci, a director who moved from comedies to thrillers and from spaghetti westerns to horror films. Focusing on Italian cinema as well, Paola Settimini's Per Horror Intendo ... analyzes the glorious Italian horror movies from the 1960s to the 1990s, featuring previously unreleased interviews with Dario Argento, Cristiana Astori, Pupi Avati, Luigi Cozzi, Claudio Simonetti and Lamberto Bava, among others.
Manuel Pérez Clemente is one of the most important Spanish illustrators who, with his art, has transcended borders and achieved worldwide recognition. David García Sariñena's Sanjulián, el poder de la Ilustración (Sanjulián, the Power of Illustration) traces the life and work of this spectacular artist, as told by the artist, and the illustrations that captivated George Lucas himself.
In the category of homages, Brigadoon will pay tribute to the careers of two recently deceased figures. On the one hand Giannetti de Rossi, legendary specialist in the field of special effects and occasional director, whose Killer Crocodile 2 (1990) will be screened, and on the other, British director Norman J. Warren, known for his sex and horror comedies, with the screening ofInseminoid(1991).
Official Fantàstic Jury
Sitges 2021 will have an Official Fantàstic Jury made up of five renowned celebrities who will be taking a cross-cutting look at the in-competition films.
Ali Abbasi. Danish naturalized Iranian film director and screenwriter. Among his main credits are Border and Shelley.
Alaska. Spanish-Mexican singer, composer and actress. Founder of Alaska y los Pegamoides and Alaska y Dinarama, since 1989 she is a member of the group Fangoria.
Luna (María Lidón). Film and television director and actress. Among the films she has directed are Stranded and The Life.
Joaquín Reyes. Actor, comedian and illustrator. He has participated in the TV programs La hora chanante or Muchachada Nui, and the films Spanish Movie and Ghost Graduation, among others.
Antonio Trashorras. Director, producer and screenwriter for film and television. He directed the feature films Blind Alley and Anabel.
One of the objectives of the WomanInFan program, aimed at promoting the visibility of female creators within the fantastic film industry, is to raise awareness of female talent for genre as yet another language. In this regard, three grants will be awarded to three female filmmakers with no background in the fantastic genre but having an outstanding initial cinematic career. Thanks to the support of Vertix and Dama Autor, the three selected filmmakers will participate in the Festival's industry activities, a round table on the role of women in fantastic film production and will enjoy a mentoring program.
The three young filmmakers selected are:
Anna Moragriega. Producer. BA in film production from the ESCAC. Her most outstanding short films as a producer are Ni olvido ni perdón (2019), directed by Jordi Boquet and winner of the award for Best Short Film at the XIII Gaudí Awards, Tribu (2017), directed by Sergi Merchan and presented at more than 50 international festivals and Petit (2017), directed by Asier Ramos and selected, among others, by Camerimage Film Festival and included in the Short Film Corner short market at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
Irene Moray. Photographer and filmmaker. In 2012, she moved to Berlin and directed her first fictional short film, Bad Lesbian. After four years in Germany, she decided to return to her homeland where she shot her most recent short film as both writer and director, Suc de sindria, premiering at Berlinale Shorts, nominated for the EFA Awards and winning several awards such as the Gaudí for Best Short Film and the Goya for Best Fictional Short Film. Her first fictional feature film, Piel de foca, was selected for the Spanish Film Academy Residencies and the TIFF Filmmaker Lab, where she was awarded the TIFF Filmmaker Lab Fellowship.
Laura Ferrés. Writer, director and producer. BA in film direction from the ESCAC. Her final project, In the Doghouse, was selected at 40 festivals, such as SEMINCI and the Montreal World Film Festival. Her short film The Disinherited premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, winning Best Short Film at the Cannes Semaine de la Critique. It was subsequently screened at 80 festivals, nominated for the European Film Awards and received both Goya and Gaudi Awards.
The Beast Within. Hydes, Lycanthropes and Other Therianthropic Figures in the Audiovisual Imaginary is an invitation to explore the different aspects of the cinematic treatment of the beast that resides within human beings. Werewolves, Hyde lords, cat women and other human-beast crossbreeds parade through its pages in a journey that spans from the foundational texts of Greco-Latin culture to contemporary film and from classical Hollywood to Eastern European auteur cinema. The topics and places visited in this book offer readers a chance to take a head-on look at these inner beasts, which are nothing more than incarnations of what frightens us about ourselves.
Coordinated by Ángel Sala and Jordi Sánchez-Navarro, The Beast Within features contributions by the coordinators themselves and by Lluís Rueda, Violeta Kovacsics, Marta Torres, Diego López and Mike Hostench. In these authors' writings, readers will find texts of various kinds, in a polyphony of formats and styles that provide new perspectives and new ideas regarding a fantastic film legend that continues to enjoy enormous vitality.
This publication joins the previously announced Three Pieces for the Killer, by Pacus González Centeno, which analyzes the relationship between jazz, rock and electronica with crime and horror movies in the second half of the twentieth century.
Press and Industry Accreditation
The application period for both press and professional accreditation will open next Monday, August 9th, via the Festival's website. The deadline for submitting applications will be September 20th.
Support for the 54th edition
Once again this year, the Festival is grateful for the commitment and of all the collaborating 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), Catalunya Ràdio (official radio) and Lavazza (official coffee).
The Festival confirms its agreements with, CineAsia, Cinemas Verdi, China Madrid, Cineinforme, Cinemascomics, Aullidos, Coca-Cola European Partners Iberia, S.L.U, Dama Autor, DRoom, El Bandarra, Ediciones Minotauro, ESCAC, FNAC, Fotogramas, FX Animation, Grupo Main, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Iberia, IES Joan Ramon Benaprès Escola Hoteleria, Japan Foundation, La Filmoteca de Catalunya, Movistar +, Nació Digital, Ocimag, Planet Horror, Reial Cercle Artístic, Renfe, Selecta Visión, SGAE & SGAE Foundation, The Original Cha-Chá,Tresc and Vertix.
Sitges 2021 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 funding from 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), the Servei Públic d’Ocupació de Catalunya (Public Employment Service of Catalonia) and the European Social Fund, and the Carnet Jove - Departament de Benestar i Família (Department of Welfare and Family).