Sitges International Film Festival of Catalonia, the premiere genre festival of Europe, has announced two of its awards winners for the 50th anniversary edition: director William Friedkin and actor Susan Sarandon. As well, legendary Spanish actor Santiago Segura will receive the Time Machine Award. This is in addition to previously announced guests Johnnie To, and Guillermo del Toro, who will be the 'godfather' of this year's festival.
Along with this announcement comes a slew of exciting titles. Catalan filmmaker Jaume Balagueró returns with his latest film Muse, starring Christopher Lloyd, Franke Potente and Leonor Watling; Black Hollow Cage, which recently won the Jury Prize at BiFan, will screen for the Sitges audience; Xavier Gens's Cold Skin; German horror with Replace; American quirkiness with Dave Made a Maze; Estonian strangeness with November; and Kuso, which has been called 'the most disguting film ever made'.
And I've barely even begun: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead will return with The Endless; Yorgos Lanthimos (whom I first discovered at Sitges) will be there with his film The Killing of a Sacred Deer; and Spanish auteur Gerardo Herrero attends with his adaptation of Art Spiegelman's graphic novel Maus.
Sitges has always had the best Asian titles, and this year is no different: sci-fi time loops with A Day; Taiwanese bullies in mon mon mon Monsters; the latest from Sono Sion, Tokyo Vampire Hotel; and Yoshihiru Nishimura's latest, Meatball Machine Kodoku.
And there will be great documentaries, including 78/52, and Tax Shelter Terrors: The Real Story of Canadian Cult Film, a return of the latest in VR horror games in the Samsung Sitges Cocoon, and tons of other activities. Full details in the press release below, and we eagerly await more announcements from our favourite corner of Europe.
The world's best fantasy will be seen at a Sitges Festival presenting an award to Susan Sarandon
The fiftieth anniversary will be bringing together Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest and terrifying film, the best Asian cinema, the return of Jaume Balagueró, the eagerly awaited ‘Cold Skin’ and will be presenting an award to Santiago Segura, among other initiatives
Virtual reality will have a strong presence at the Festival with a brand new competitive section: Samsung Sitges Cocoon
The 50th Sitges – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia releases a comprehensive preview of its lineup, which includes the best films in contemporary genre and an exceptional guest, Susan Sarandon. The most diverse visions of fantasy, from all over the world, will have a date from 5 to 15 October to celebrate a 50th anniversary with Guillermo del Toro as its patron and impregnated with the essence of Dracula. As already announced, director William Friedkin will also be honored with the Grand Honorary Award and Asian filmmaker Johnnie To will be visiting the Festival as well.
American actress Susan Sarandon, with an extensive filmography full of memorable titles, will be visiting Sitges 2017 to receive the Grand Honorary Award. Sarandon has starred in extraordinary fantastic genre films like The Rocky Horror Picture Show(Jim Sharman, 1975) –which will be shown at a special screening attended by her–, The Hunger (Tony Scott, 1983) or The Witches of Eastwick (George Miller, 1987). As well as other fondly remembered movies like Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991), The Client(Joel Schumacher, 1994) or Dead Man Walking (Tim Robbins, 1995).
The Festival will be presenting the Time Machine Award to Santiago Segura in recognition of his life achievement. At a special screening, we’ll be showing the Argentinean comedy You Only Live Once, by Federico Cueva, starring Segura himself, along with Gérard Depardieu, Hugo Silva and Carlos Areces.
One of the most eagerly awaited films, following its visit to Cannes, is The Killing of a Sacred Deer, the fascinating new endeavor from Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, which will be one of the highlights of the Official Fantastic Selection. It’s an unsettling psychological thriller with a cast headed by Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman. Asian film will play a prominent role with the Korean thriller A Day, Cho Sun-ho’s debut with a lead character who relives a tragic day over and over again; Takashi Miike’s latest film, Blade of the Immortal, an adaptation of an action and vengeance-packed manga, and Before We Vanish, a drama with aliens by the always disquieting Kiyoshi Kurosawa.
Also arriving from Cannes’ official selection is Jupiter's Moon, an original Hungarian fantasy drama by Kornél Mundruczó, director of, among others, White God. My Friend Dahmer, which premiered at the Tribeca Festival, is Marc Meyers’ adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name that tells the story of a serial killer’s adolescence, and it can be seen at Sitges 2017. Also landing at the film competition straight from Tribeca is The Endless, American indie horror that’s all the rage, directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, who were already at the 2014 Festival with Spring. Screened that same year was A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night by Ana Lily Amirpour, who on this occasion will be presenting The Bad Batch, winner of the grand jury award at Venice 2016.
El Habitante, the Mexican film directed by Guillermo Amoedo and produced by Nicolás López will be have its worldwide premiere in the Official Selection. The action movie Bushwick, by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion –directors of Cooties, presented at Sitges 2014– will also be part of the Official Selection.
A horror-comedy and slasher film will have a place in the Official Selection with Tyler MacIntyre’s Tragedy Girls, as well as the Brazilian As boas maneiras, directed by Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas. The documentary 78/52, by Alexandre O. Philippe –who has presented different documentaries at past Festival editions– will be in the Official In Competition Fantastic Selection. This piece meticulously analyzes the shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
As examples of different, auteur Spanish cinema, the Festival will be offering Gerardo Herrero’s Maus, a totally free adaptation of Art Spiegelman’s famous comic of the same name. A fantastic horror drama that connects with The Witch, Take Shelter or the most unsettling Polanski. And Andrés Goteira’s Dhogs, an unpredictable and obsessive tale, set at the limits of fiction.
The Official Selection will have a very groundbreaking tone with films like November, a co-production between Estonia, Poland and the Netherlands, directed by Rainer Sarnet and inhabited by werewolves, spirits and plagues. More commercial Russian cinema will be represented by Klim Shipenkos’ Salyut-7, a sort of Gravity in the 80’s.
The latest in Catalan fantastic genre
Sitges 2017 is committed to the most recent Catalan genre productions, which will have an important place in the lineup. Muse, Jaume Balagueró’s long-awaited return, couldn’t be missing at the film competition’s 50th anniversary. On this occasion, the director from Lleida banks on supernatural horror and a deluxe cast including Christopher Lloyd, Franka Potente and Leonor Watling. Another eagerly-awaited film is Cold Skin, Xavier Gens’ adaptation of the successful fantasy novel by Albert Sánchez Piñol, also called Cold Skin. Unsettling scenarios and strange creatures, with an unrecognizable Aura Garrido in the cast.
After savoring success with the short NADA S.A., winner of diverse international awards, Caye Casas and Albert Pintó debut in feature length with Matar a Dios, a surreal black comedy starring Emilio Gavira, Itziar Castro and David Pareja. Another Catalan production that can be seen at the Festival is Sadrac González-Perellón’s Black Hollow Cage, a sci-fi with an international cast and winner of the jury award at the recent BIFAN – Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea.
In the section dedicated to thrillers, Jung Byung-gil’s The Villainess will be presented at Sitges 2017, a vengeance movie with surprising action scenes, or Wind River, the film debut of Taylor Sheridan, screenwriter for Sicario and Hell or High Water and best director in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes 2017. The film is an intense, visceral thriller starring Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner. A Prayer Before Dawn will also be there, an uncompromising British film set in the boxing world and based on true a true life experience, directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire.
From Cambodia arrives Jailbreak, an action movie with comic undertones, directed by Jimmy Henderson, which submerges spectators in prison chaos. Plus two French thrillers: Christian Carion’s Mon garçon, starring Guillaume Canet and Mélanie Laurent about the nerve-racking disappearance of a child, and Eric Valette’s Le serpent aux mille coupures, that blends drugs, hired killers and hostages.
As usual, independence and risk characterize the Panorama Fantàstic section. Taiwanese Giddens Ko will be presenting mon mon mon Monsters!, a dark, violent and nihilistic film about the real monsters surrounding us. Norbert Keil’s German body horror film Replace will also be there, and among its cast you’ll find Barbara Crampton, winner of the Time Machine lifetime achievement award at Sitges 2016.
Horror will also be the main feature in Brandon Christensen’s Still / Born, a Canadian film that explores a newborn’s supernatural forces. From the also Canadian Chad Archibald, director of the slimy Bite (Sitges 2015), arrives The Heretics, about the world of sects.
Films with diverse themes and origins with the common denominator of experimentation make up the Sitges 2017 Noves Visions section. The Australian Boys in the Trees, by Nicholas Verso, takes the spectator back to a Halloween night in the 90’s, an ode to friendship surrounded by ghosts and truths that come to light. From the Ukraine arrives the titanic A Gentle Creature, by Sergei Loznitsa, inspired by Dostoyevsky’s tale A Gentle Creature. We can also see Bill Morrison’s documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time, explaining the discovery of 500 silent movies from 1910-1920, appearing in 1978 beneath an ice rink in Dawson City, Canada. In its world premiere, David González Rudiez’s Arder will also be presented, a black and white film about a man’s journey, the night and the devil.&n bsp;
Other films that will be part of Noves Visions are Simon Rumley’s thriller Fashionista, which follows the steps of a woman who uses fashion as an emotional aid; The Little Hours, a comedy directed by Jeff Baena, where a young woman on the run takes refuge at a convent full of emotionally unstable nuns; Bill Watterson’s Dave Made a Maze, about the fantasy of building an entire fort in a living room, or Kuso, called “the most disgusting movie ever made” at Sundance, directed and co-scripted by Steven Ellison (also known as Flying Lotus), David Firth and Zack Fox.
Sitges is very clearly committed to this section, a pioneer in animation in all of Spain. Japanese animation will play an important role and celebrate the 100 years of anime, in addition to the usual short film competitions and tributes. Masaaki Yuasa’s Lu Over the Wall, winner of the award for best feature length film at the Annecy Festival, will be at Sitges 2017.
Also from the French festival and included in the Sitges 2017 animation section is Naoko Yamada’s touching A Silent Voice, a subtle, deeply psychological drama. Tehran Taboo will also be shown, the ambitious feature film debut of German-Iranian filmmaker Ali Soozandeh. And the French-Japanese film Mutafukaz, directed by Shoujirou Nishimi and Guillaume Renard, and based on the comic of the same name created by Renard himself.
The lineup of the Festival’s most nocturnal section will be structured, as in previous years, in thematic marathons like La nit + freak (the + freaky night) or La nit + zombie (the + zombie night). Asian productions are hitting hard. Sion Sono, a Sitges regular, will be opening the screenings with Tokyo Vampire Hotel, which turns vampire movies upside-down offering an original and unique vision like only Sono can. The also Japanese Yoshihiru Nishimura –recent winner of the Sitges Pitchbox Award at the South Korean BIFAN 2017– will present Meatball Machine Kodoku, a scary alien comedy.
We will also be showing the sequel to the yakuza film The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji (Sitges 2014) The Mole Song: Hong Kong Capriccio, directed this time by the indefatigable Takashi Miike.
Midnight X-treme is the ideal space to experience the eighties revival found in the Canadian film Game of Death, directed by Sebastien Landry and Laurence Morais-Lagace, a sordid game where the participants have to choose between killing or dying. A lethal cross between Jumanji, Natural Born Killers and Scanners.
Dedicated to presenting non-fiction pieces revolving around genre and its most relevant authors, Panorama Documenta announces three titles from its lineup. King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen, directed by Steve Mitchell, reviews the life and work of filmmaker Larry Cohen, known for his B movies, horror, sci-fi and detective films from the 70’s and 80’s. It includes testimonies from Martin Scorsese, Tara Reid, Traci Lords, John Landis or Joe Dante.
Mansfield 66/67, by P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes, analyzes the final two years in the life of actress Jayne Mansfield, as well as the rumors surrounding her tragic death.
Carles Prats’ Drácula Barcelona, delves into the filming of Count Dracula (Jesús Franco, 1970) and of Pere Portabella’s Vampir Cuadecuc, in a journey through 60’s and 70’s Barcelona.
Brigadoon and Sitges Zombie Walk 2017
The Brigadoon section will be presenting Daniel Armstrong’s feature film Sheborg, an apocalyptic sci-fi comedy resembling the universe of Turbo Kid. Audiences can also see The Terror of Hallow’s Eve, a horror film directed by special effects specialist Todd Tucker.
Brigadoon strengthens the commitment to documentaries it’s maintained over the years. This year, it is programming Xavier Mendik’s Tax Shelter Terrors: The Real Story of Canadian Cult Film, focusing on the history of genre films made in Canada; João Monteiro’s In the Interstices of Reality or the Films of António de Macedo, reviewing the career of Portuguese director António de Macedo, who will also be having a retrospective, and the Spanish documentary Maníacos de la sèrie B, by Manuel Valencia and Luis Sánchez Toledo, about the history of the 2000 Maníacos fanzine .
Tribute will be paid to recently deceased directors, like George A. Romero, Tonino Valerii and Paco Pérez-Dolz, with the screening of Valerii’s Sumario sangriento de la pequeña Estefanía, including the attendance of actress Mónica Randall, and Jordi Marcos’ documentary Paco Pérez-Dolz: un cineasta a tiro limpio.
Samsung Sitges Cocoon
Samsung banks on Sitges as the stage for the latest virtual reality technologies. The result of this collaboration, after last years’ successful experience, is the debut of a new competitive section with immersive 360º contents. Samsung Sitges Cocoon will have the privilege of presenting two top level productions, as well as a selection of innovative pieces that will make up this competition, with a jury headed by Jaume Balagueró.
French director Alexandre Aja (High Tension, Mirrors) will be presenting Campfire Creepers, the first virtual reality horror series with 360º vision –produced by Future Lighthouse– that revolves around the urban legends explained around the fire at a summer camp. Sitges will be hosting the global première of one of its episodes, Skull of Sam, starring a total genre movie idol and a Festival friend, the legendary Robert Englund.
Guy Shelmerdine, director of Catatonic, a stunning piece that could be seen in last year’s Samsung Sitges Cocoon, returns with Night, Night, a terrifying experience about children’s fears in the form of macabre clowns that will be premiering internationally, causing spectators genuine nightmares.
Sitges and Netflix
The Festival will be hosting the premiere of the second season of Stranger Things with a special event, in association with Netflix. This series with an eighties air, directed by the Duffer brothers, has become a genuine phenomenon for fans around the world. The Korean film Okja, by Bong Joon-ho, one of the big sensations at Cannes 2017, will also be screened to offer the possibility of enjoying it on the big screen.
Sitges Campus: Dracula
Sitges Campus returns to this 50th edition, the space set up in association with the Catalan universities and film schools. During the Festival, as a part of the Sitges Campus, the course Dracula and vampirism in fantastic genre films will be organized, directed by the professor from Barcelona University, Jordi Ojeda, and by the Festival director, Àngel Sala. In this course, the Dracula myth in cinema will be analyzed, the most significant cult films will be highlighted and there will be a review of vampires in Asian cinema and the new trends from over the past few years: the new laboratory vampires.
The team of professors is made up of different experts in fantastic genre and will include the presence of different film directors who are Festival guests. The course will be given from Monday October 9th to Wednesday October 11th. To enroll or ask for more information you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This October the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) will be debuting the Master degree Fantastic Film and Contemporary Fiction, born from collaboration with the Sitges Film Festival and it already has its first class of enrolled students.