30-09-2021 11:00

News

Sitges Bites Harder Than Ever

The latest from Ben Wheatley, Ana Lily Amirpour, Alex de la Iglesia, Julia Ducournau, Neill Blomkamp, Paco Plaza and David Lowery will be seen at the Festival

Start sharpening your claws! The 54th Sitges - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia is about to kick off and the streets are already getting decked out to showcase the most daring, innovative and transgressive moviemaking of the moment for 11 days. From October 7th to the 17th, fantastic genre fans' howling will be echoed throughout a line-up featuring 169 films bringing together the latest and most eagerly awaited trends in a film genre that is taking its place more than ever at the forefront of cinephile circles with important awards at major festivals. A clear example is Julia Ducournau's Titane, Palme d'Or at Cannes 2021, which will be part of the Official Fantastic Selection's Special Screenings along with Edgar Wright's eagerly awaited Last Night in Soho or the indescribable duo of Nicolas Cage and director Sion Sono in Prisoners of the Ghostland.

Earwig, Special Jury Award winner at the 2021 San Sebastian Festival, will also be in Sitges, accompanied by its director, Lucile Hadzihalilovic, who will receive the Career Award presented by the Méliès International Festivals Federation (MIFF). An award that will be added to those of directors Mamoru Hosoda, who will present his latest animated film Belle in competition, and Carlos Saura, honored along with actress Belén Rueda with this 54th edition's Grand Honorary Award. This year's Time Machine Awards will go to director Neill Blomkamp, who is presenting his latest film Demonic in the Official Selection, actress Alice Krige, leading lady in She Will, also in competition, and Nick Antosca, special guest at the Sitges Pitchbox's new showrunners Lab and screenwriter for Antlers, a Guillermo del Toro production that can be seen at the Festival. Completing the list of award winners at this year's edition are composer Roque Baños, winner of the Honorary María Award, and actor Emilio Gutiérrez Caba, who will receive the Nosferatu Award presented by the Brigadoon section.

Ana Lily Amirpour will be returning to Sitges seven years after her debut with A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night to present this 54th edition's opening film, Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon, a historic milestone that marks the first film directed by a woman to open the Festival in a time of clear transformation in genre where the presence of the female point of view is becoming more and more relevant. A good example are films present in several Festival sections such as Censor, Welsh Prano Bailey-Bond’s feature debut, the British Silent Night, a black comedy directed by Camille Griffin, Here Before, Stacey Gregg's debut feature, or Bloodthirsty, the second film by Canadian Amelia Moses that can be seen in the New Visions section and that explores the main theme of this year's leitmotiv concerning the werewolf and the beast within. Meanwhile, the epic medieval fantasy The Green Knight, a film directed by David Lowery, who previously captivated Festival audiences with the poetic A Ghost Story in 2017, will be in charge of bringing Sitges 2021 to a close.

This year's line-up couldn't be missing the new chapter in the Halloween saga brought back to life by David Gordon Green in Halloween Kills, or the new works by Festival friends like Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo, who will be presenting The Deep House, an innovative, supernatural underwater horror story, in the Official Selection. Also returning to Sitges is another Sitges regular, Ben Wheatley, with his new proposal In the Earth, shot in the midst of the Covid pandemic, or Tommy Wirkola, director of Dead Snow and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, who brings his new film The Trip (I Onde Dáger) to Sitges, a thriller packed with black humor starring Noomi Rapace. And other films that were a big sensation at the 2021 Cannes Festival like the Norwegian The Innocents, the Icelandic film Lamb, or terrifying and especially violent Asian creations like the ones we will find in The Medium and The Sadness, are among some of the most impacting films at this Sitges 2021.

The latest Spanish productions will also be presented in Sitges as proof of the excellent state of the most contemporary national fantastic genre films. The feature debuts by Catalan David Casademunt with The Beast and Alberto Evangelio with Visitor, the horror epic Everyone Will Burn, the Galician film Jacinto, a terrifying road-movie in a van in The Passenger, disturbing science fiction in Tres, Carlos Vermut and Paco Plaza's alliance to bring La abuela to life, the world premiere of Álex de la Iglesia's Veneciafrenia, and the premiere of the four stories in Historias para no dormir, which brings together some of the most important directors on the contemporary Spanish film scene: Rodrigo Cortés, Paula Ortiz, Paco Plaza and Rodrigo Sorogoyen.

The Festival will continue unveiling previously unreleased films for audiences like The Amusement Park (1973) by the legendary George A. Romero, in the Seven Chances section in collaboration with the Catalan Association of Film Critics and Writers (ACCEC), rediscovering fantastic treasures in Sitges Classics as part of the Beast Within retrospective, like Pedro Olea’s The Ancines Woods (1970) and Paul Naschy's Night of the Werewolf (1981), two essential films in the history of our filmmaking, and offering free alternative productions in the Brigadoon section with films like the premiere of Bienvenidos al infierno or the documentary Fulci Talks - Uncut Conversation with Lucio Fulci, by Antonietta de Lillo.

Once again this year, the Auditorio, Retiro, Prado, Tramontana and Brigadoon will be the Festival's key venues and witnesses to the best annual crop of the latest in fantastic feature films, shorts, documentaries and series. A line-up that is rounded off with a renewed list of side events, industry days, exhibitions, meeting spaces for fans, presentations and official publications.

Sitges Industry

The Festival's professional section will be featuring more than 30 activities including round tables, presentations of projects in development, workshops, master class sessions and meetings for the purpose of offering current content from the audiovisual and fantastic film sector to industry professionals.

This year, Sitges Industry will continue to use a hybrid format, combining online and in-person activities in order to promote contact between professionals from the international sector. Once again this year we will offer the Sitges Industry - Catalan Films Online virtual platform, thanks to the support of Catalan Films (Catalan Institute of Cultural Companies, ICEC), where meetings can be arranged, the guide to all the professionals participating in the Festival can be consulted and all the section's content can be accessed.

For the seventh year in a row, the Festival, together with the FilmarketHub platform, is organizing Sitges Pitchbox, the international pitching event focused on horror, science fiction or fantastic projects in development. This new edition will be held using a hybrid format and will be focused on both international feature films and European series in development. A total of seven feature films and five series have been selected. The people responsible for these projects will have the opportunity to make a seven-minute pitch and later have one-to-one meetings with the participating companies. In addition, four cash prizes will be awarded for development costs. The participating companies include: XYZ Films, Wild Bunch, Exile Content Studio, Globalgate Entertainment, Red Arrow Studios, The Mediapro Studio, Showrunner Films, and more.

Mick Garris will be the special guest at Sitges Pitchbox 2021. The director, screenwriter, producer and writer, father of Masters of Horror or Critters 2 among others, will be this year's honorary godfather.

As the main new feature, this year's Sitges Pitchbox will be complemented with the Showrunners LAB, an introductory and advisory seminar on the role of the showrunner, a key player in series productions, through the presentation and analysis of three models: the North American, Scandinavian and Spanish models.

The initiative, which has the support of and is co-organized by Europa Creativa Desk - MEDIA Catalonia, invites the five series projects selected in the Sitges Pitchbox call for entries to participate in this Lab, which will feature the collaboration of a leading showrunner representing each of the models. The three participating showrunners will be Nick Antosca, Teresa Fernández-Valdés and Jannik Tai Mosholt. The showrunners invited to the program will offer one-to-one mentoring for the five projects and will conduct a master class outlining the main features of their model, as well as a case study based on their track record.

Women filmmakers and industry

WomanInFan, the program for the visibility and inclusion of women creators in the fantastic film industry, will kick off with a round table featuring this year's three grant recipients, Anna Moragriega, Irene Moray and Laura Ferrés, along with some representatives closely linked to the fantastic and horror audiovisual sector such as Belén Rueda, Prano Bailey-Bond, Helen Jones and Ana Lily Amirpour. During the festival, the selected grant recipients will explore the fantastic genre through master classes, round tables, films and mentoring sessions with relevant personalities within genre such as filmmakers Luna, Paco Plaza or producer Nadine Rothschild.

Film and literature

The Festival's initiative that seeks to bring literature and fantastic films closer together, Sitges Taboo'ks, will be presenting an informative day on different aspects of market trends at its 5th edition with round tables and talks by experts from different sector branches. In addition, director, screenwriter and producer Pedro Olea will be offering us a Case Study where he will be explaining his experience adapting the novel The Ancines Woods, by Carlos Martínez-Barbeito, which served as the basis for making El bosque del lobo (The Ancines Woods).

In the afternoon, Taboo'ks will feature a practical workshop where publishers, agents and literary rights representatives will have the opportunity to learn the keys to an audiovisual dossier and the main criteria for evaluation in commissions. Participants will be able to present a project and a selection of the three most outstanding ones will be made to discuss their viability. The workshop has a limited seating capacity and registrations must be formalized by sending an email to industry.hub@sitgesfilmfestival.com indicating in the subject line: Taboo'ks / Registration for the audiovisual dossier workshop.

Innovation and fantastic genre

The Sitges Cocoon section will be presenting talks on new technologies applied to filmmaking. We would highlight the Blockchain Fairy Tales live storytelling event, an immersive storytelling experience designed by Columbia University's DSL innovation center, which has presented installations mixing immersive cinema and technological innovation at Sundance, Tribeca and IDFA (Amsterdam).

What kind of horror do European audiences like best? This will be one of the answers that analyst Niels Albergue will get from Publikum, a software based on artificial intelligence combined with anthropology applied to film production. We will also have two round tables on video games and we will be talking about how to revolutionize the entertainment industry with Serialify and Film.io.

Sitges Industry will also be hosting several encounters, among which we can highlight the meeting with this year's award winner, animation master Mamoru Hosoda, who will be welcoming the audience and accredited guests at a special session where he will be talking about his career and creations; and the master class by costume designer Alberto Valcárcel, who will be talking about how to create designs for fantastic productions.

The Industry Hub section will also be hosting several events in collaboration with the country's major audiovisual institutions. Among others, this year we will have PROA (Federated Audiovisual Producers) organizing a conference with work groups of producers with sales agents. The Catalonia Film Commission will be offering the presentation of the Guide for the incorporation of sustainability criteria in filming and shooting. Producers Meet Producers, the annual meeting between well-established and new producers, organized by PAC and the Sitges Town Council, will also be taking place. We will be talking about horror editing and the school of horror in Catalonia with AMMAC members and we will be analyzing the screenplay of Historias para no dormir with Paco Plaza, Alberto Marini and Rodrigo Cortés, several of its directors and screenwriters.

Once again this year, the Coming Soon section will also be taking place. It will be both virtual and in person this year with a total of 11 national and Latin American projects of upcoming production.

Parallel activities

Sitges 2021 is expanding its proposal of parallel activities with the creation of a new meeting point, the King Kong Area, a continuous space where leisure activities will be held, including the delicious Foodtàstic Area on Balmins Avenue, offering meat, vegetarian and vegan options, the Meeting King Kong Area, a relaxed chill out atmosphere with music, radio, podcasts, performing arts and photocalls, the Fanshop Area, where we will find official and film-related merchandise, and the Mercat Vell (Old Market) area, where a series of film workshops dedicated to the youngest members of the family have been organized as part of the Fantastic Kids or the Fantastic Street Art contest exhibition that will be held on Saturday, October 9th at the Port of Aiguadolç.  Completing these initiatives are the free outdoor short film screening that will be held in Plaza Cataluña (Sitges) on Friday, October 8th at 8:30 pm, the "Find the Beast" contest held in collaboration with Sitges' businesses and the Fantastic Zombie Experience proposal with makeup, photocalls, gastronomy and dancing, which replaces the classic Zombie Walk, which will have to wait another year due to capacity restrictions.

Returning this year is the space enabled for the FNAC tent where a series of book presentations and autograph signings by authors such as Fabián Plaza, winner of the XVI Minotauro Award for Más fría que la guerra', the presentation of the book ‘El almanaque del vídeo. Historia oral de la era del videoclub' by Xavier Sánchez Pons, 'Critters', by Octavio López and the publisher Applehead or 'Scream Queer' by Javier Parra will take place.

For more information on side events, see sitgesfilmfestival.live/.

Official book

La bestia interior. Hydes, licántropos y otras figuras teriantrópicas en el imaginario audiovisual (The Beast Within. Hyde, Lycanthropes and Other Terianthropic Figures in the Audiovisual Imaginary), coordinated by Ángel Sala and Jordi Sánchez-Navarro and with texts by Luis Rueda, Violeta Kovacsics, Marta Torres, Diego López and Mike Hostench. A look at the cinematic treatment of the beast that dwells inside the human being, which is nothing more than an incarnation of what scares us most about ourselves.

Tres piezas para el asesino (Three Pieces for the Murderer), by Pacus González Centeno, a book that analyzes the relationship between jazz, rock and electronic music and criminal and horror films in the second half of the 20th century.

Exhibitions

-       The Return of Waldemar Daninsky. Place: Estudi Vidal (C/ d’en Bosch 6).

-       Werewolf Comix: A Tribute to the Werewolf. Place: Auditori Exit (only for spectators).

-       Drawings made by children from Sitges schools with themes focusing on the Festival. Place: Mercat Vell (Plaça de l’Ajuntament, 11).

-       artAmore Sitges, “Fantàstiques” Exhibitions. Place: C/ Parelladas, 57.

 

Queer Kong 2021    

The Stop Sida organization in collaboration with the Sitges - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia celebrates, for the third year running, the recognition of LGTBIQ+ diversity with the Queer Kong Award, which honors films programmed at the Festival that promote discourse and content included in three categories: Contribution to LGTBIQ+ sexual health, LGTBIQ+ Visibility and Integration and LGTBIQ+ Representation in the industry. The Queer Kong 2021 jury is formed by: Marc Sala, journalist and RTVE host, Miriam Martínez Hierro, executive producer of Toma 13 Films, Jordi Izquierdo Berbel, producer and director of Cinemoteka Radio RSK FM, Elisa Martínez Parra, member of the Colores Sitges Link Association, Miquel Claudia-López, Queer Kong producer, audiovisual producer and Stop Sida volunteer.

XVII Sitges Carnet Jove Jury

The Agència Catalana de la Joventut (Catalan Youth Agency), through its Carnet Jove “Connecta’t” program and the Sitges 2021 - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia management team, has once again selected 5 young people to 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 Fantàstic Selection, the Anima't Award for best Animated Feature Length Film and the Anima't Award for best Animated Short Film. The objective of this collaboration is to professionalize film reviewing, giving five young people interested in the world of film the opportunity to be a part of one of the Sitges Festival's official juries. This year's selected jury is made up of Charas Vega, Claudia Guillen, Gerard Jaurena, Meritxell Blanco and Sara Vega.

Cultural Checks

The "la Caixa" Foundation and CaixaBank are collaborating with the Sitges - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia in a social action initiative with a social welfare purpose, with the aim of reaching the maximum number of beneficiaries through the delivery of cultural checks / vouchers that allow family audiences to access a high quality cultural offering during the days the Festival is held.

The Festival organization, together with collaborating associations such as the Red Cross, Caritas and Fundación Actúa Ayuda Alimenta will give a total of 550 vouchers consisting of a movie ticket + an individual meal ticket. The price that will be set for this check will be 3 € per ticket, which must be paid by the beneficiary for the reservation and purchase of the check.

Reservations and purchases can be made starting October 5th through the Festival's website (Sitgesfilmfestival.com), in the ticket sales section, following the usual purchase procedure, but choosing the 'Solidarity Ticket' option.

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 CCMA, 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).

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