FANTASTIC
7

SITGES FILM FESTIVAL

Activity description

Program that previews upcoming productions in the global genre industry, promoting the connection of these films with international distribution and production representatives.

Discover the best of the upcoming fantastic genre!

Sunday May 22
12h-14h

VENUE: PALAIS K
On-Site & On-line event
The pitching session will be livestreamed on
the marchedufilm.online platform.

Sitges – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, together with the partnership of the Marché du Film – Festival de Cannes and INCAA International Affairs Manager Bernardo Bergeret, present the fourth 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.

Fantastic 7 is designed to bring together projects in different stages of production -or that have been already completed- with investors from around the world, with the purpose of promoting their final commercialization. Seven top-notch festivals present one genre film project of their respective region at a pitching session that annually takes place during the Marché du Film – Festival de Cannes. 

Fantastic 7 showcases the most promising genre projects worldwide, representing the new trends of each territory.

Ana Lily
Amirpour

Fantastic Godmother 2022

This year, the event’s Godmother Ana Lily Amirpour, film director, screenwriter, producer and actress.

The Interview

Film director, screenwriter, producer and even actress. From a very young age, Ana Lily Amirpour has known how to take on all the roles of film production, letting go of her imagination to lead us through fantastic stories. With three feature films made, Lily is considered one of the most surprising and captivating talents in current fantasy genre cinema.

Prano
Bailey-Bond

New Talents

The Interview

Prano was named a 2021 “Director to Watch” by Variety and a Screen International “Star of Tomorrow” in 2018.  Prano’s debut feature film, Censor, starring Niamh Algar and supported by the BFI, Film4 and Ffilm Cymru Wales, opened the Midnight section of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, went on to be selected for the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section and was selected at Sitges – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia in the Official Fantastic Competition section.

The seven Fantastic Festivals are:

Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia

Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival

Cairo International Film Festival

Guadalajara International Film Festival

South by Southwest

Toronto International Film Festivalfourth

New Zealand International Film Festival

VENUS

SITGES - FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE CINEMA FANTÀSTIC DE CATALUNYA, presents:

Original title: Venus
Title in english: Venus

Director: Jaume Balagueró
Cast: Ester Expósito, Ángela Cremonte, Federico Aguado, Fernando Valdivielso
Genre: Horror
Nationality: Spain
Language: Spanish
Producers: Álex de la Iglesia, Carolina Bang

Synopsis: “Venus” is a supernatural horror story set in an urban survival environment with elements of modern witchery.

SEOUL HORROR STORY

BUCHEON INTERNATIONAL FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL, presents:

Original title:
Title in english: Seoul Horror Story

Director: Kim Hyunjin
Cast: TBD
Genre: Horror
Nationality: Korea
Language: Korean
Producer: Lee Dongha

Synopsis: Three Colored omnibus stories occurred in Seoul.
1. Fluorescent blue color : A Ghost station in the northern area of Seoul. A female game developer dies from overwork, but she waits for the evil boss in that game.
2 . Colorful neon color – Lost face Plastic Surgery in Gangnam. A nurse from the countryside undergoes plastic surgery at the request of her director, surprisingly the nurse’s face bacames the same as her director’s. Doppelganger.
3 . Gloomy Ash Gray – Two worlds College graduates looking for work in Noryangjin. The ghosts continue to prepare for employment without knowing they are dead.

THE PORTAL

CAIRO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, presents:

Original title: The Portal
Title in english: The Portal

Director: Chadi Abo
Cast: Hanaa Zahran, Razane Jamal, Jamal Souleyman (TBD), Ahmad Qontar (TBD)
Genre: Sci-Fi, War Film, Fantasy
Nationality: Syria, France
Language: Arabic, French, English
Producers: Ruba El-Khesh Khair, Lilas Wahbe, May Odeh, Zorana Musikic, Chadi Abo

Synopsis: Sana is a miraculous 7 years old girl who lives inside a forgotten refugee camp, grabs the attention of many players in the area, including Remy a French war journalist, The Emir, a leader of a terrorist group that occupies the area, and Aida a volunteered European nurse that dedicated her life to help the refugees. Things accelerated when the Emir soldiers shoot Sana, at night, Sana comes back to life with the help of a light ray from a near star. She starts to collect children after she resurrects their bodies, she drag them in the desert to take them away to a safe place. Everybody is chasing this little girl that can speak to the astral objects. Remy tries to find the girl to shed light on her story, who who lost his daughter years back, hopes secretly that she can bring her back to him. The Emir, has a plan to use the girl to build a militia of undead soldiers, since the girl refused to do so, he wants to stop her because she brings back hope to the desperate people of the camp. Also her story, makes his soldiers wonder about their faith.

LA MALA MADRE

GUADALAJARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, presents:

Original title: La mala madre
Title in english: The Bad Mother

Director: Alicia Albares
Cast: Javier Rey
Genre: Horror
Nationality: Spanish
Language: Spanish
Producers: Alberto Díaz, Alexandre Bas, Cristina Urgel, Eva Moreno

Synopsis: Victoria, a journalist who has written a highly controversial book on motherhood, wakes up in a house with no memory. Ángel, the doctor who takes care of her, tells her that she has had a car accident, in which his daughter died, whom she never wanted to have. The presence of a pregnant woman will help her discover the truth: Angel is actually a religious fanatic who wants to teach her a lesson. Victoria is kidnapped. She will have to finish off Angel if she wants to get out of there alive.

MOSHARI

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST, presents:

Original title:
Title in english: Moshari

Director: Nuhash Humayun
Cast: TBA
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Drama
Nationality: Bangladeshi
Language: English, Bengali, Hindi
Producers: TBA

Synopsis: ‹Moshari› is a traditional South Asian mosquito net, made for protection against vermin at night.
When the world is overrun with bloodthirsty creatures, the last of mankind perseveres in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan…by spending their nights inside the moshari – the only known shelter from the unknown threat.
Two sisters, Apu and Ayra, must navigate this strange new world to survive. However, their strained relationship is becoming as much of a threat as the dangers outside.

DARK NATURE

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, presents:

Original title: Dark Nature
Title in english: Dark Nature

Director: Berkley Brady
Cast: Hannah Emily Anderson, Madison Walsh, Roseanne Supernault
Genre: Horror
Nationality: Métis, Canadian
Language: English
Producer: Michael Peterson

Synopsis: Joy, a survivor of domestic violence, joins her friend Carmen and her therapy group on an isolated weekend retreat in the Canadian Rockies. Led by the enigmatic Dr. Dunnley – whose methods are experimental and, at times, dubious from Joy’s outside perspective – the experience eventually shatters the border between reality and delusion. Joy begins to suspect that they are being stalked by her abuser, when in truth, the entire group will be forced to confront a threat even more terrifying than the monsters of their past.

THE CAGE

WHĀNAU MĀRAMA NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, presents:

Original title: The Cage
Title in english: The Cage

Director: Paul Campion
Cast: in progress
Genre: Terror
Nationality: New Zeland
Language: English
Producer: Jared Connon

Synopsis: It’s late night shopping at a small home electronics store when Simon, a heavily armed man walks in and shoots and kills three people in cold blood. He takes Michelle, the last customer, and the remaining four staff captive, forcing them into the stock room and locking them inside the security cage, where the small high value inventory is kept. One by one Simon starts taking the captives back to the shop floor where he surgically implants cables into their bodies to connect them to a wall of TVs, intent on using them as human sacrifices to help summon an ancient evil entity from another dimension, hidden in the static of dormant analogue tv channels. As more captives are taken, Michelle and the remaining staff members realise that if they want to survive the night, they’ll have to stop Simon and escape the cage…

The Interview: ANA LILY AMIRPOUR

Film director, screenwriter, producer and even actress. From a very young age, Ana Lily Amirpour has known how to take on all the roles of film production, letting go of her imagination to lead us through fantastic stories. With three feature films made, Lily is considered one of the most surprising and captivating talents in current fantasy genre cinema.

The birth of a director

When we came to America I was very young… five, six years old. I saw the making of Thriller, a short documentary that shows John Landis and Michael Jackson making this music video. I became obsessed with it. I watched it over and over studying it… repeatedly… I loved watching the process of creating the latex mask for Michael for the werewolf transformation. It was like seeing a magic trick.  And I remember how they were choreographing the long dolly-shot where the camera following Michael as he dances and walks along side of the girl… all these details felt like my first film education… and another important detail I remember was that John Landis was having so much fun in that video.  He was in a joyous state in all parts of creation.  And I feel that energy when I’m onset now.  It is joyful to be creating on a movie set.

It’s interesting to contemplate how you start to make films.  Watching movies is a big part of everyones life, but seeing this video really opened my eyes to the other side of how it’s made and it was a realization that I could make this type of magic also.  I could put on an elaborate show.  Around that age, I started making plays and I would do everything: I designed the costumes, the makeup FX and created the sets and then I would act in them and bring my family members to also act in them.  And then when I was 12 and my dad bought a high eight camera.   And I started making movies and commercials.

So it does feel like my first film schools experience was seeing the making of Thriller; because when you could see behind the trick you want to make your own trick.

Love for Fantasy

When I think about the movies that I love, I always think back to my childs mind, and the first movies I loved as a kid, which I also still love as an adult.   One of these is The Neverending Story. It was usually based in fantasy, some kind of a fairy tale, adventure fantasy. Back To The Future was another big influence.  And when I think about the soul of these movies today I realize both movies are about a character taking charge of his own destiny;  they are really about freedome, which is such a central theme in all of my work today.  These films were about creating your own future and having control of what’s possible by harnessing the power of your imagination.

The first shooting

I made my first films when I was 12 and I did everything… I was recreating commercials that were on television and I was also making very short horror movies. I don’t remember thinking anything about the result, or the audience or if it was ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  It was a pure state of creation, in the moment.   That’s the beautiful thing about when you’re 12 is you just decide you’re going to do something, you have the need and it’s pure and you just do it. With no doubts or fears.  This is the optimal state to create.  And what I always hope to feel like, like a childs openness and pure energy.

Later in life, after I finished art school, where I studied painting and sculpture, I started making short films again. And finally moved to LA to study screenwriting at a film school.  And I do remember the first short film I made in the legitimate way, with a crew and everything… and it was a very small crew. But still, I remember the first moment onset for the first shot. I remember standing there and I saw so many people on the set, and I didn’t really know what everyones job was. Because you know, I was used to doing everything, like making the costumes, making the set doing everything… I even acted in the films! And I was stunned thinking, who are all these people? What’s their job?  Because you know, in film school I studied writing, not directing. So I was never told all the parts of a crew, I just learned directing from doing it. So, I didn’t know what assistant camera was, what second assistant camera was… I was just amazed that it was such a technically organized dance of so many people thinking together.  It was amazing.  And when I was onset today, with so many people surrounding me.  It still is amazing.

A girl walks alone…

My first film, A Girls Walks Home Alone at Night, came from a very specific focused idea, and character, it was something that had no confusion, because I wasn’t even slightly questioning any aspect of the film. I was 100% sure of every part of the story.  I knew everything I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it; and it was very specific and extreme. It’s black and white film. It’s an Iranian story. The actors, the music, everything was clear for me.  I think that’s why in some ways it was easy to make this film… even though it was quite unconventional in every detail, it was clearly it’s own thing.  And the people who got it, got it.   That is why the people who said yes to the project were very inspired and on board.

The Bad Patch

My second feature film had nothing previous one. It’s like if you had one boyfriend, your next boyfriend isn’t necessarily a rebellion of your first boyfriend: it’s just whoever you’re in love with. The Bad Patch is a very deep observation for me of the American dream. Looking at the modern American society as a metaphor, as an allegory of how to show the culture of people today, which is imploding in many ways.  This was how I could explore the decay of the American dream.

The violence, the separation of democracy in modern day society and culture… was very clear to me.  And also the opportunity to choose what you want to be.  As a person who came to America, as an immigrant, I came here and learned how to be American. Rather than starting out here, I understood America very much as a place for outsiders.  And realized a feeling that we are always searching for where we belong.  That’s why I understand very much the fight and the competition to find your way forward, or in any direction. All that stuff is in the story of America, the beauty of it is that you can choose to be whatever you want… and I also see that becomes the problem and tension… when different choices collide in violent ways.

The question of the movie, for me was: if you are a product of this system, can you change your logic and can you change your desire to find something different in that system? Or does it just keep recreating itself?  And producing the same product.  And yes, this is a complicated question with no one answer.  So for that reason, The Bad Patch is a complicated film.  

And then came Mona Lisa

Yes, Mona Lisa… and I can see that in all my films, I am looking at the idea of freedom. I am looking at characters that live in a world that creates systems that often stop them from feeling free. And in order to find yourself and to move forward or to move in a different direction to change your reality, to change what your future can be, you must break from the past, rebel from the system, and find a way out.

The thing about freedom is a constant process, to deconstruct and reconstruct what you believe freedom is. To understand freedom you have to define freedom.  And that definition constantly changes as each day passes.  If I think about all my films, I can see characters who defy categorization. They reinvent themselves and are in control of their own identity in a way, and constantly reinventing their identity and changing their situation. To me this is ultimate freedom.  To search and constantly be looking for freedom, is itself a form of freedom.

The characters in my films, physically, they are not what you expect. If you judge them based on the surface, you would be very, very wrong. And certainly in Mona Lisa, she changes constantly how she looks, and it allows her to move in different ways.   This is especially important for a female, when we are so defined by the outter layer, the superficial layer.  But for her… she constantly shifts form and it’s exciting to see her be whatever she wants to be.

The spark of creation

Usually, there’s one character and one image of a character. In my first movie, it was The Girl, the vampire. And it was the chador and the skateboard because I had one, and wore it and then I got on a skateboard, and I instantly thought –this is an iranian vampire.

In The Bad Batch, I had a very difficult heartbreak and time in my life and I had this image in my mind, of a girl missing an arm and a leg and bleeding in the middle of the desert… but she would survive. And the story grew around that.  And then, with Mona Lisa I saw the opening of the film. I saw a girl trapped in a box, discarded from the world.  And no one understood who she was.  People fear her because she’s different.  And in this film, I really wanted to believe that amongst all the chaos of modern-day reality, there can be beautiful connections and friendship between people.  True friendship that makes you feel, seen. To me, friendship is like a unicorn.  A rare and beautiful thing that should be treasured.  So, I was really looking for the joy in the chaos of humanity in Mona Lisa. It really gave me a lot of joy making that movie. The Bad Batch took me into the darker aspects of humanity, had the opposite effects.

Choosing the soundtrack

Music starts to come right at the beginning. As I see first image  I will start to listen to songs. And listen to hear like the general feeling of a mood or the story or one of the characters. I start gathering it in a playlist and there’s a lot of music in the process of writing.   Much of it is just an exploration tool.  And some of it ends up in the films.

It’s really one of my primary tools for thinking. Making a movie is like opening a door into this dimension where this world exists and the music is like putting money into the jukebox, and it keeps playing and making the world bigger and bigger. So, I gather all this music and when the script is more complete, I go back to the music and certain songs are clearly part of part of the story or part of a certain moment.  And they are written into the script.  My scripts are always sent with playlists, and I believe to fully ‘read’ the script you have to listen to all the music along the way.

Every movie wants a different sound. The music in a way is the soul of a film so it’s like in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, I had a lot of really cool, modern Iranian indie rock and a few classic old Iranian pop songs, and the beautiful music of Federale as the spine, and even some crunchy German techno; and then in The Bad Patch the soundscape was more psychedelic like it was a lot of music from Darkside which felt a kind of feeling of what this desert would feel. And Mona Lisa was about life and vivid and full of energy, so it’s got this driving electronic synth sound, like music from 80s and 90s fantasy films.  With a lot of energy.  Every movie allows me to discover all this new music and because I tend to go towards artists that aren’t that well known and maybe nobody’s heard of,  that’s exciting, because I can share their music with a larger audience.

Filmmaking TV

The first thing I did in TV was a show called Legion which is a very psychedelic and experimental superhero show. It’s extremely daring filmmaking, crazy technical shots, and  wild stuff with the camera, the wide lenses and with the sets and everything. It was a joyful intro into filmmaking.  And I feel lucky to have entered into the realm of TV with something like that.  I look for shows that are daring and some aspect of it will excited me.  As a filmmaker I really wants me to play with those tools and have fun and do something. And then it becomes creative. Of course, it’s a TV show that already exists, you’re not making all the primary decisions or setting the look like with the lenses and the lighting, and because of that it takes a lot of pressure off: you just go in and play with these tools in a creative Canvas. You really learn about things that are possible and what you can do and help them tell their story. I love TV. I like taking the pressure off you (it’s not your script). You just go in there as an ally to help them do a good episode and have fun learning like some new tricks.

Working on Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet

It was one of the most joyful creative experiences I’ve had so far. Guillermo is such a supportive and encouraging producer.  He really took the approach that I could treat this as a movie, and shape it however I want.  So for me this does feel like my fourth movie in many ways.  This anthology is completely separate, stand alone stories. Unrelated. They don’t look the same: different directors, different writers. So, it really does feel like a movie.

My episode is called The Outside and it stars wonderful cast, Kate Miccuci, Martin Starr and Dan Stevens.  It’s a very surprising story and I look forward to seeing what you think.  Should be out later this year. 

The Interview: PRANO BAILEY-BOND

Prano was named a 2021 “Director to Watch” by Variety and a Screen International “Star of Tomorrow” in 2018. Prano's debut feature film, Censor, starring Niamh Algar and supported by the BFI, Film4 and Ffilm Cymru Wales, opened the Midnight section of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, went on to be selected for the Berlin Film Festival's Panorama section and was selected at Sitges - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia in the Official Fantastic Competition section.

The beginnings

Several things collided to make me want to be a filmmaker. I used to love painting and drawing. And I also loved watching films, so I would paint and draw whilst absorbing movies. And I loved performance and actually thought I wanted to be an actress. But when I started to study performance, I realized I was much more interested in being on the outside, shaping things. And that by directing and making films, I was able to bring together my love of all these things; story, visual arts and performance. It felt like everything married together in film, in directing.

Blue Velvet, the revelation

There were many films that I was inspired by, and loved, and influenced me. But I think one that I could cite as a big influence, or that showed me the potential of what cinema could be was Blue Velvet by David Lynch. When I saw that, I understood how cinema could take the internal and manifest the internal life of a character in the external world. For me that was quite revolutionary. And in terms of me understanding what you could do with a story in cinema; how you could use cinema in an expressionistic way to explore ideas. So that is always one that I go back to again and again, and I keep finding things forever in that film. It’s so clever.

Love for genre

I do feel that I inherently lean towards genre. I’d say most of my work is genre adjacent in some way. I tend to lean towards exploring stories of dark psychology, or even sometimes dark comedy. But I didn’t realize I was making genre work at first. I was just telling the stories I was interested in and there was something about the way I wanted to explore the dark sides of characters that leaned into genre. So I realized I was making genre. And I just accepted that. I love genre. I think it’s part of my identity.

Inspiration comes from…

It can be different things all the time, which is amazing. Sometimes you’re inspired by the front of a building or something strange like that. But more frequently, it’s characters that I’m inspired by; the idea of a character in a specific world, which I get obsessed with and want to understand. Sometimes it might be a bigger, more philosophical idea that connects to that something in that character’s life. So, it can be a fusion of those things. Then when it comes down to writing, I always start with character. I’ll have a visual world that I can picture or an atmosphere I’m holding onto for this film, but it’s always character at the centre of that, you know… what’s their journey, what they want. Images are helpful along the way too, because they can help you to hold onto the feeling or the world that you’re trying to create. Sometimes those images will stay all the way to the end, and still be there in the final film. And that’s something magical. Sometimes the images must fall away, like cutting an umbilical cord. You know… it’s a way into the project, but it doesn’t belong in the film.

The genesis of Censor

I was on a plane reading this article about Hammer Horror in 2012. In the article, it said, that during the Hammer Horror era, censors didn’t have many rules, but one of the rules was that they would cut the sight of blood on the breast of a woman, because they believed it would make men likely to commit rape. And I thought, well, what protected the censor from losing control? If those images are supposed to have that effect? What if a censor started to question their moral compass based on these ideas? And that was the seed; I wanted to explore this character who was having a very complicated conversation with themselves, their morals, in relation to what they’re seeing on screen. Then, I landed in the ‘video nasty’ era, because in Britain everybody was having that conversation with horror films; we were being told these horror films were going to poison our minds and turn us all into evil monsters.

Monsters like Fulci…

Going back to a period like this and a subject matter like this, you’ve got this wealth of influences in the ‘video nasties’. I always knew that I wanted part of the texture of this film and the visual language of this film to chime with this era of VHS horror. So, I was going back and looking at work by Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci…  a lot of the video nasties. Videodrome was an influence as well. These styles and filmmakers really align with my own tastes.  I also wanted to create a 1980s Britain, the reality world of the film, that’s like the world we see when we look out the window, rather than the world we see in an 80’s magazine – avoiding, you know, fashion focused big shoulder pads, big earrings, that kind of thing. So, I went back and started looking at photography projects from the period and there was a photography project called Beyond Caring by Paul Graham. The images are of people going and collecting their dole cheques, you know, and they were just drab, really kind of quite miserable… I’m talking about this oppressive, grey, Thatcher’s Britain. I wanted to take the journey of the film visually from that world into the world of ‘video nasties’, of Fulci and Argento.

A suggestion for the newcomers

Remember that you’re not expected to know everything at this point. So be open; arm yourself by talking to other filmmakers about their experiences. Prepare yourself for the journey of your debut by talking candidly to directors, or producers who have already trodden the path. Be honest with yourself about the things that you don’t know, then dig into those areas through research and preparation. It’s all about preparation. But remember to enjoy the experience as well, and look after yourself. Eat well. Sleep well. Yeah, be kind to yourself along the way.

And for the pitch…

I think practice pitching is the best advice. I was so nervous when I started pitching Censor to, you know, a crowd or to a potential financier, for example. But the more you tell the story, whether that’s to your friend, your parent, a stranger you meet in a party – whoever… just practice telling the story and see when people’s eyes light up, or when they glaze over; and then you’ll work out the best way to tell your story. Once you’ve got that down it will just be a natural reflex you’ll never forget, like riding a bike.

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