SITGES FILM FESTIVAL
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 21
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 fifth 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.
Fantastic Godfather 2023
This year, the godfather of the event will be Álex de la Iglesia, film director, producer and screenwriter.
There are fantastic genre masters and there are genre lovers, and then there’s Álex de la Iglesia, who perspires, consumes and dreams of film, of fantastic genre film, of course. His filmography includes seminal entries in the history of genre films such as The Day of the Beast, The Last Circus, Common Wealth and Mutant Action. Now at the age of fifty-six, de la Iglesia is one of the most authoritative creators in the film industry and the best godfather for Fantastic 7. This is something evidenced by his reflections during an excellent masterclass, given at last year’s edition of the Sitges – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia.
The origins of the WomanInFan program revolved around the promotion and recognition of creative female filmmakers within the fantasy industry. For this 2023 edition, we are focusing on laying the foundations of female narrative, a unique narrative that differentiates stories and interests from a woman’s point of view. This is the seed of WomanInFan Fant.Latina, an initiative in collaboration with Blood Window, which brings together gender projects led by women and which, in the last Ventana Sur market, presented an award to Lucía Nieto Salazar, who aspires to debut with his first feature The Visitors.
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
New Zealand International Film Festival
SXSW Film & TV Festival
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival
SITGES - FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE CINEMA FANTÀSTIC DE CATALUNYA, presents:
ORIGINAL TITLE: La ermita
TITLE IN ENGLISH: The Chapel
- DIRECTOR: Carlota Pereda
- CAST: Maia Zaitegi, Belén Rueda, Josean Bengoetxea, Loreto Mauleón, Jon Olivares, Elena Irureta and Nagore Aranburu
- GENRE: Supernatural drama
- NATIONALITY: Spain
- LANGUAGE: Spanish
- PRODUCERS: Laura Fernández Brites, Carlos Fernández, Iñaki Gómez, Pablo Echart
Synopsis: A fantastic fable that navigates between past and present, the real world and the paranormal, through the eyes of Emma, a young girl who wishes to keep communicating with her mother, even if that means contacting the other side. Emma wants to learn how to communicate with the spirit of a little girl who has spent centuries trapped inside a chapel and so she tries to convince Carol, a skeptical and fake medium, to help her. Contacting the spirit will help her to remain close to her sick mother once she dies. What Carol doesn’t suspect is that Emma really does have “the gift” and, if she keeps on trying to use it without her help, she will be putting her young life at risk.
BUCHEON INTERNATIONAL FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL, presents:
ORIGINAL TITLE: 지느러미
TITLE IN ENGLISH: The Fin
- DIRECTOR: Syeyoung Park
- CAST: Yeji Yeon, Goh-woo, Pureum kim
- GENRE: Sci-Fi, Independent, Disaster
- NATIONALITY: Republic of Korea
- LANGUAGE: Korean
- PRODUCER: Heejung Oh
Synopsis: Set in a future dystopian Korea, The Fin follows three characters and their unexpected encounters with each other ultimately escalate to a piercing shriek. A dying merman asks a friend to give his remains to his daughter, hiding amongst the humans. Tasked with this dangerous journey, the merman secretly heads to the land of humans. He is chased by a new civil servant recruit fueled by curiosity and hatred
CAIRO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, presents:
ORIGINAL TITLE: Le Refuge
TITLE IN ENGLISH: The Shelter
- DIRECTOR: Talal SELHAMI
- CAST: TBC
- GENRE: Psychological Horror
- NATIONALITY: France-Morocco
- LANGUAGE: Arabic/French
- PRODUCERS: Lamia Chraïbi
Synopsis: Paris. A Syrian refugee and war survivor, has to take care of an old invalid French man at the end of his life, but being close to death again awakens ghosts from the past… Leila, in her forties from Aleppo, was a famous pianist, now she is a refugee in Paris. She has to take care of Georges, an old man, invalid and mute. Georges has not long to live.
At night, Georges suffers, his screams are unbearable. Leila cannot sleep. A presence appears in the shadows and makes love to her, it is confusing. It is her husband, dead during the war. Leila turns on the light, she sees Georges, paralyzed, his eyes filled with incomprehension. Later, it is Leila’s dead son who speaks, in George’s mouth. At first frightened, Leila enters a strange and unhealthy game; A game that makes her happy…
GUADALAJARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, presents:
ORIGINAL TITLE: Corpus
TITLE IN ENGLISH: Corpus
- DIRECTOR: Pablo Delgado
- CAST: Carlos Bardem, Harold Torres, Armando Espitia, Adrián Rossi, Kanerit (Karen García), Matías del Castillo, Raúl Briones
- GENRE: Horror
- NATIONALITY: Mexico
- LANGUAGE: Spanish
- PRODUCERS: Eva Ruiz de Chávez and Mariana Rodríguez
Synopsis: Something is happening in the dungeons of an old seminary in the middle of the woods. A dark and ancient force has risen from the depths to reclaim its freedom. Mexico,1928. The government is at war with the Cristeros. A red moon is rising. Laughter and whispers can be heard
at the top of the pines. Two boys fall in love in the worst place in the world. A rebellious young man is abandoned by his mother. A Priest and his students have wandered aimlessly for days. All roads intersect in the same place: San Miguel Arcángel. A forgotten seminary in the middle of the forest. Rumors of Federals in the area spread fear… However -someone knows that the true threat lies within San Miguel, deep in its dungeons. Something that will soon find its way out.
WHĀNAU MĀRAMA NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, presents:
ORIGINAL TITLE: The Televangelist
TITLE IN ENGLISH: The Televangelist
- DIRECTOR: Tom Levesque
- CAST: TBC
- GENRE: Psychological thriller, black comedy
- NATIONALITY: New Zealand
- LANGUAGE: English
- PRODUCERS: Kevin DeWalt, Matt Noonan
Synopsis: When a Televangelist is convinced a rival is behind his dwindling social media enterprise – Hendrick Powell sets out on a journey of obsession, theatrics and blackmail to reclaim his online followers whatever the cost. After faking an assassination attempt to boost his shrinking online audience, internet Televangelist Hendrick Powell believes a rival cyber preacher is behind his continued decline. As Hendrick plots an event to make headlines and bring himself into the spotlight, his marriage starts to crumble as his wife, Patty, has a sexual reawakening after becoming fixated on a fitness influencer. Becoming entangled in an ugly crime, Hendrick’s paranoia and obsessions spiral into hysteria-like proportions as he delivers a sermon that goes global for the wrong reasons. As the truth about his fraudulent spectacle is revealed, Hendrick discovers that his suspicions of sabotage may be justified, but the question remains: who is responsible?
SXSW FILM & TV FESTIVAL, presents:
ORIGINAL TITLE: Dead Enders
TITLE IN ENGLISH: Dead Enders
- DIRECTORS: Fidel Ruiz-Healy and Tyler Walker
- CAST: TBD
- GENRE: Horror, Comedy, Coming of Age
- NATIONALITY: USA
- LANGUAGE: English
- PRODUCERS: Fidel Ruiz-Healy, Tyler Walker
Synopsis: Maya is a young, burnout gas station attendant in the small town of Tanglewood, Texas. But her comfortable life of drawing comics with her best friend, Charlie, is upended after a fracking accident unleashes a species of mind-controlling parasites that turn people into shambling drones damned to perform menial tasks that terraform Tanglewood into a bug colony. Six months later: the town is under lockdown amidst the threat of the “Headsqueezers.” When Maya learns that Charlie has gone missing, she turns to her former co-workers to piece together what happened. To get her best friend back, Maya will have to venture deep into the bug-infested outer city, come face to face with the horrors that lurk underneath the placid facade of Tanglewood and discover the dark price that Charlie’s paid to get life back to the way it used to be. It’s safe to say, she might be late to her next shift.
TALLINN BLACK NIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL, presents:
ORIGINAL TITLE: Bod Obnovy
TITLE IN ENGLISH: Restore Point
- DIRECTOR: Robert Hloz
- CAST: Andrea Mohylová, Matěj Hádek, Václav Neužil, Milan Ondrík, Karel Dobrý, Agáta Kryštůfková, Katarzyna Zawadzka, Jan Vlasák, Iveta Dušková, Richard Stanke, Adam Vacula, Jan Jankovský, Lech Dyblik
- GENRE: Science fiction
- NATIONALITY: Czech Republic
- LANGUAGE: Czech
- PRODUCER: Jan Kallista
Synopsis: In the year 2041, all people have a constitutional right to experience one whole life. If someone dies an unnatural death, they are revived and can go on with their lives. All you need to do is to regularly create a restore point – a backup where your memory is saved to. In this society absolutely murder is nearly impossible. Young detective Em Trochinowska has to solve a murder-mystery where the only witness is one of the resurected victims.
The Interview: ÁLEX DE LA IGLESIA
There are fantastic genre masters and there are genre lovers, and then there’s Álex de la Iglesia, who perspires, consumes and dreams of film, of fantastic genre film, of course. As a Renaissance man, he has cultivated comics and writing, and film he’s done the same in the areas of screenwriting, directing and, recently, production. His filmography includes seminal entries in the history of genre films such as The Day of the Beast, The Last Circus, Common Wealth and Mutant Action. Now at the age of fifty-six, de la Iglesia is one of the most authoritative creators in the film industry and the best godfather for Fantastic 7. This is something evidenced by his reflections during an excellent masterclass, given at last year’s edition of the Sitges - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia.
The Enjoyment of the Fantastic Genre
I genuinely enjoy genre not because fantastic films are lowbrow, but because they don’t pretend to be intelligent, because they aim to make you enjoy yourself as a viewer. And then, in fact, it turns out that the most intelligent films are found within the fantastic genre.
From my point of view, the fantastic genre is the one that best expresses feelings and that leaves the most room for creation. I go to the movies to have a good time. Movies brings me out of my problems, I don’t want movies to be my problem.
In other film genres it’s easy to slip into boredom or a false pretension, whereas in the fantastic genre, even bad movies are cool. And I love that director who has only managed to make one decent film, because I know why he did it. I understand every shot, I understand the problems he’s had, the failings, the shortcomings. I understand all of it. And despite it all, he’s still delivered the fucking vampire. He’s delivered the fucking zombie. He’s had the balls to deliver that zombie who is his brother-in-law with shitty make-up. And the thing is that in the fantastic genre it’s very common to work with more passion than money. But if on top of that someone with no money and a huge amount of passion achieves a perfect product, then the only thing left for you to do is to kneel down and tell him I love you, you’re the fucking man.
The Spectacle of Film
Film starts from a lie; it starts from a spectacle that has a lot to do with the spectacle of a fairground attraction. In fact, film was born at a fair, sharing the billing with the bearded woman, the boy with seven heads, the cow with four arms, and there was the film spectacle. And in that absurd place, full of mud and smelling of feces, they show a train coming towards you and you think it’s going to kill you. And that’s film. And from that point on, we are lucky that someone also tells us how man can go to the moon or fight against animals from space, or against some fish-shaped men, thanks to Méliès, who establishes both the fantastic genre and film. And the fact is that film starts off being fantastic.
Film itself in its very language has an intention to entertain and to capture viewers’ attention in such a way that you can be in several places at the same time. In that regard, film enhances life because it gives you very different points of view. And that’s your responsibility as a director, to offer viewers a richer life than the one they are living.
The Role of Festivals
I come to Sitges because it’s necessary, because I need to come here, because my food is here, as if I were
a vampire. At this festival we all want to enjoy what we’ve done with our friends and that doesn’t happen at other festivals. There are other festivals where I don’t have a good time because people don’t come to enjoy themselves. They come to impose their genius on you or to explain their brilliant topic to you, and that’s a mistake. If the rest of us don’t have fun, why do you do it? Who do you want to impress or what is it you want to do? It’s something that bothers me deep-ly. How is it possible for someone to want to explain something that’s so important to them and forget about the entertainment?
It seems to me that this is what film is all about. Film is emotion; it’s about moving you with something. I don’t understand people who only want to impress.
Repeating the Formula for Success
I really love the industry and I really love being suc-cessful. And I’m convinced that if we were to make a sequel to The Day of the Beast, as bad as it might be, we would make a lot of money. But you have to have respect for the The Day of the Beast brand because it’s a great movie that many people I love very much were involved in and I think it’s something that shouldn’t be touched. Its time already passed.
We also thought about doing a Mutant Action prequel, but it’s something I rule out every time. It would be like denying myself. In other words, I think that if we move forward, we move forward.
On Elevated Horror
I can’t stand it. I can’t stand the label, but do I love elevated horror. I think we’re living in a golden age of horror movies similar to the great era of Universal, which gave birth to the world of Frankenstein, the werewolf, the mummy and all those films that changed or laid the foundations of horror movies. But today we don’t have the power to make the kind of films that were made back then, when there was nothing else and everything was focused on that. However, right now we have the filmmaking of Ari Aster or the filmmaking of Panos Cosmatos. And it is a very good filmmaking, but it’s not elevated or it’s not as elevated as others.
Let me clarify: we can’t say that Carpenter is banal. He’s a filmmaker with a very specific way of working, that addresses a very specific audience and has a very specific style. And The Thing is as good as Alien, I think. And I don’t feel it’s fair to say that Alien is more exquisite or deserves more respect. These are absurd industry factoids.
Elevated filmmaking is, shall we say, a pejorative concept if we use it to discredit all other horror movies. We all agree that a lot of very good films are branded with that label. In that regard, I think that Midsommar isn’t normal. Ari Aster’s filmmaking isn’t normal because it’s very powerful, very hallucinatory. Hereditary is one of the most terrifying films I’ve ever seen in my life. I saw it with my daughter, and we were terrified watching it because it suddenly works with a new kind of horror, a different way of presenting horror and playing with people, but it’s not more elevated than others. That assessment seems to me to be a belittlement of genre.
The Hardest Part of the Producer’s Role
I don’t usually interfere as a producer because it’s very hard to know what the director has in his/her head at any given moment. With Jaume Balagueró, for example, when he did the first edit, he showed it to me and that was enough. The film is extraordi-nary. As simple as that. It’s true that I commented on certain things to him as a viewer: what you see and how you could improve it in case he wanted to improve it. And yes, he told me he would think about it and in the final result, I was able to see that there were things he listened to me on and others that he didn’t. But the truth is that the film he has made is unsurpassable. It’s perfect.
The Interview: LUCÍA NIETO
The origins of the WomanInFan program were shaped around the promotion and recognition of creative female filmmakers within the fantastic genre industry. For this 2023 edition, we are focusing on establishing the foundations of female narrative, a unique storytelling that differentiates stories and interests from a woman’s point of view. For decades, the history of the fantastic genre has been populated by monsters, nightmares and traditions created by male filmmakers. We have learned to shudder in a movie theater with stories told from the male point of view, while the intervention of women has been residual or barely acknowledged.
This is why the WomanInFan initiative has been travelling around markets and festivals for three years now, recalling the role of past, present and future female filmmakers. And not only for their unique cinematic vision but also for their indispensable work as transmitters of legends, traditions and stories, which are relevant to their particular filmographies. This is the seed of WomanInFan Fant.Latina, an initiative in collaboration with Blood Window, which brings together genre projects led by women and which at the past Ventana Sur market, granted an award to Lucía Nieto Salazar, who aspires to make her debut with her first feature film Los Visitantes (The Visitors).
Genre, A Vanishing Point
Ever since I was a child, I lived more in my imagination than in reality. I looked for that escape to other worlds in cinema and literature. I liked to play that life was
a dream (and I still do to this day). So I was always fascinated by the dreamlike, magical realism, fantasy. It is a way I have of living life; imagining that there are other places, other characters, hidden in reality itself. I play at believing that they exist, at imagining where they come from, where they are going. It is the engine I have to live: to believe that there is an intangible magic that surrounds me and that generates a constant fascination for the world around me.
Influences Between Film and Literature
My main influences in the realm of film are Roman Polanski, David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick. In literature: Mario Levrero, Mariana Enriquez, Felisberto Hernandez, Horacio Quiroga, Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allan Poe, among others.
The Creative Impulse
What usually happens to me is that, from an experience, an idea is triggered, and I quickly develop a story. For example, a few weeks ago I was in the kitchen, and I looked outside and for a few seconds I saw myself in the garden watching me, as if there was another me. I quickly wrote The Other, a short film in the development stage. That’s why I love to inhabit different environments, to meet new people, original characters; because it is in reality where I find the triggers.
Women in the Fantastic Industry
I think the difficulties that women have when it comes to evolving professionally in different positions within the film industry are not alien to the rest of society. If we take a closer look, most successful directors are men. The discrimination that we suffer as women usually occurs in power relationships.
In this regard, I have never experienced (at least in the film industry up to now, although I have in others) any degrading situation, possibly due to the circumstances of my environment: I live in a small place, Maldonado. Uruguay is a little country where all of us who are involved in this field know each other. Also, and fortunately, in recent years certain social policies have been put into practice that favor greater equity with regard to national public funds. Likewise, in international market and film festival sections, a greater inclusion of women and minorities is being achieved. But, on an industry scale, I do believe that there is still a glass ceiling, and particularly in genre filmmaking.
Debuting in Feature Film
Los Visitantes (The Visitors) is my debut feature film. A psychological thriller that follows the life of Helena, a young woman in her thirties, who moves to a sprawling estate on the outskirts of the city with her boyfriend. But the couple breaks up and Helena is left alone. This causes her to experience an enormous depression, because she suffers from an emotional imbalance that, at times, distorts her perception of reality. She feels threatened by the world that surrounds her, but especially by the male gender, which she finds to be very hostile. A visitor, a friend of the owner’s, is expected to arrive. A man arrives at the residence, but then, a few days later, another one shows up. Helena will have to discover who the impostor is and what his dark intentions are.
The film inhabits a strained, dark atmosphere, with surreal and hallucinatory moments. Suspense runs throughout the story: Who is the impostor? Who is the real enemy? This is the question that harasses Helena regarding her lovers and that immerses her in unremitting doubt: Does he love me, or does he want to hurt me?