SPECIAL: SITGES 2016 – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalunya

SPECIAL: SITGES 2016 – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalunya

The Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalunya in Spain is already a veteran in the film festivals calendar for every year. Starting in 1968 as the 1st International Week of Fantasy and Horror Movies, the festival has been growing and growing every year until it became the international reference it is right now. First class directors, actors and producers have taken the festival as one of the main platforms to advertise their work in Europe and the world. Only to name a few from an almost eternal list, through the years the festival has enjoyed the visits of Quentin Tarantino, Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Paul Verhoeven, George A. Romero, Viggo Mortensen, Terry Gilliam, Rutger Hauer, John Landis, Joe Dante, Zoë Bell, Dino de Laurentiis, Takashi Miike (who is a classic constant at the festival), Wim Wenders, David Cronenberg, John Woo, Park Chan-Wook, Johnnie To, Paul Naschy, Sam Raimi, Robert Englund, Roger Corman, Guillermo del Toro, Kim Ki-duk and Álex de la Iglesia among many many others.
And this year 2016, the guest lists couldn’t be different. We could enjoy the presence of Max von Sydow, Christopher Walken, Bruce Campbell, Dolph Lundgren, Barbara Crampton, Nacho Vigalondo, Rob Zombie + Sheri Moon Zombie and, as always, Takashi Miike just to name a few. Because the list grows and grows!

SPECIAL: SITGES 2016 – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalunya
Japanese director Takashi Miike with Àngel Sala greeting some fans at the doors of Melià hotel

With this line up of presence, it is easy to believe the Sitges Film Festival is one of the important ones ones in the genre.

The 49th edition of the festival in 2016 took place from the 7th to the 16th of October, a perfect time of the year to enjoy the last touch of nice weather and also make sure all the stars doing the end of the summer festival tours can pay a visit to the idyllic catalan coast town.

So what did we see and who did we meet this year? Stay tuned and keep on reading. We really hope you will enjoy this small report so much that next year we all meet at the festival. Here you can watch the trailer for this year festival we made at dKillerPanda World.


Sitges 2016: STAR TREK year

Every year, the Sitges Film Festival has a leit motiv. There is always something going on, some anniversary, special release or visit, some event that can be taken as the global motto of the event. And this year marks the 50th anniversary of the airing of the very first episode of the TV series Star Trek (1966–1969) on the television network NBC. I guess this was an easy decision to take!

SPECIAL: SITGES 2016 – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalunya
Star Trek references all over the place

The streets in the little town of Sitges were for 10 days invaded with many trekkies from all around the universe (why not? Let’s think big!). Many of the neighbourhood shops in town joined the space quest fever and garnished their premises with Star Trek logos, replicas of the Enterprise ship, vulkan salutes and other different trappings evoking the adventures of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and all their troupe. Even the main venues of the festival joined the party. For example, in the Melià hotel, the main headquarters for guests and the festival organisers, lots of quotes or references to the Star Trek universe could be found.

But not everything was about decoration, also several events were based on the Star Trek world. Several trekkie meetings happened in the town, it was quite easy to spot just regular visitors dressing like their favorite characters of the franchise. For Wednesday the 12th, the festival had one special screening for Robert Wise’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition (1979) at the biggest auditorium. Great sound and a huge screen to rewatch this eternal classic like if it was the first time. Yes, that Wednesday was the real Star Trek day, because later in the afternoon the big dish was coming: The Star Trek Masterclass by producers David Fein and Mark Altman, and actor Walter Koening, who incarnated Enterprise’s Pavel Chekov in the original series and the subsequent movies. For sure, a great gift to any Star Trek lover, isn’t it?

2017 will mark the 50th anniversary for the Sitges Frestival itself, and the main theme will be Dracula, no more no less. So we better get prepared for hordes of bloodsuckers walking around the streets because the fans of the character invented by Bram Stoker will have their doors open.

Here you can find a little gallery with all the posters from the very first year in 1986 until the present edition. (All the posters are taken from the official Sitges Film Festival website, http://www.sitgesfilmfestival.com)

Saturday afternoon, Zombie walk

If you are a regular at the Sitges Film Festival, you will be aware of the invasion of flesh eaters that occur the first Saturday. Because that weekend is always Zombie Walk weekend! YAAAAAAAY! I mean, BRAAAAAAAAAAINS!

The Zombie Walk is one of the most colorful and popular events of the festival. Everybody is invited, and for free! The madness starts at noon, when a bunch of gore make-up effects specialists volunteer to “zombify” anybody who dares to cross the line between the living and the dead. And it all becomes a celebration of guts and blood.

Horror movie heroine Barbara Crampton was the honorable guest of this years’ Zombie Walk, and then a zombie films marathon for free in one of the open air settlements. What a plan!

And then, as the blood party closure, the traditional Motorzombis concert. And this is a personal advice, but if you don’t know the band Motorzombis, you should check them out. If you like monsters, horror movies and the 80s classics, these guys are your band. Okay, they lyrics are in spanish, that’s not for everybody to get into. But believe me, the love for the genre and the good times is totally breathable in any single one of their tunes.

Sitges 2016: Prizes and awards

Sometimes we tend to forget this, because we always think we are in a 10 days party of good movies and fun, but after all the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival has its own films in competition. That means besides all the good fun and experience, some movie makers went back home with an award under their arm. Who were the lucky ones this year? First of all, if you are not a regular in the festival you should know there are a few different categories of awards which might be not so easy to follow. So take it as a way to see what films highlight this year and are worth to be taken in consideration. But if you want to know more about what is each one of those sections and categories, take a look at the descriptions in the official Sitges Festival site.Well, here it comes.

  • Award for Best Feature Length Film: SWISS ARMY MAN, by Daniels
  • Special Jury Award: THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE, by André Øvredal
  • Award for Best Director: Yeong Sang-ho, for TRAIN TO BUSAN
  • Award for Best Actress: Sennia Nanua, for THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS
  • Award for Best Actor: Daniel Radcliffe, for SWISS ARMY MAN
  • Award for Best Screenplay: Jeremy Slater, for PET
  • Award for Best Special Effects: Jung Hwang-su, for TRAIN TO BUSAN
  • Award for Best Cinematography: Hong Kyung-pyo, for THE WAILING
  • Grand Audience Award: THE HANDMAIDEN, by Park Chan-wook
  • Award for Best Short Film in the Official Fantàstic Selection: CURVE, by Tim Egan
  • José Luis Guarner Award (Critics Jury): THE NEON DEMON, by Nicolas Winding-Refn
  • Citizen Kane Award for Best Up-and-Coming Director: Julia Ducournau, for GRAVE (RAW)
  • Carnet Jove Jury Award for Best Feature Length Film: GRAVE (RAW), by Julia Ducournau
  • Noves Visions ONE: UNDER THE SHADOW, by Babak Anvari
  • Noves Visions PLUS: A DRAGON ARRIVES, by Mani Haghighi
  • Award for Best Shor Film Noves Visions Small Format: LA FEMME ET LE TGV, by Timo Von Gunten
  • Panorama Fantàstic: I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, by Billy O’Brien
  • Òrbita: LO CHIAMAVANO JEEG ROBOT, by Gabriele Mainetti
  • Focus Àsia: THE WAILING, by Na Hong-jin
  • Anima’t Award for Best Feature Length Film: YOUR NAME, by Makoto Shinkai
  • Anima’t Award for Best Short Film: DARREL, by Marc Briones and Alan Carabantes
  • Midnight X-Treme: IT STAINS THE SANDS RED, by Colin Minihan
  • Brigadoon: ARCANA, by Jerónimo Rocha
  • Méliès d’Argent Award for Best Feature Length European Film SOFC 49: GRAVE (RAW), by Julia Ducournau
  • Méliès d’Argent Award for Best European Short Film SOFC 49: DAWN OF THE DEAF, by Rob Savage
  • Blood Window: 1974, by Victor Dryere
  • SGAE Nova Autoria Award for Best Screenplay: EN LA AZOTEA, by Miguel Casanova and Damià Serra
  • SGAE Nova Autoria Award for Best Direction-Production: CABEZA DE ORQUÍDEA, by Violeta Blasco, Germán Andrés López, Carlotta Napolitano, Angélica Sánchez and Claudia Zegarra
  • SGAE Nova Autoria Award for Best Original Music: ROGER, by Jan Fité
  • IV Film Screenplay Writing Laboratory Award: LOS INVITADOS, by Carla Guimarães

(See the whole list of awards here)

Newby filmaker Julia Ducournau was one of the stars of the year thanks to her surprising film GRAVE (RAW)

Tributes and honorific awards:

  • Max von Sydow
  • Christopher Walken
  • Walter Koenig
  • Bruce Campbell
  • Dolph Lundgren
  • Paul Schrader
  • Terele Pávez
  • Barbara Crampton

(See the whole list of tributes and honorific awards here)

SPECIAL: SITGES 2016 – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalunya
Bruce Campbell on his hilarious speech recieving the Time Machine honorific award

The Sitges experience

Besides whast’s the said in this report, which are already cool enough facts, another attractive feature of the Sitges Film Festival might not be because of the festival itself. The little town of Sitges is one of those towns that haven’t been taken over by low cost bulkish tourism, as many other coast towns everywhere on the Mediterranean sea. Therefore there is still the chance to enjoy the pleasures of the peace and calm provided by the sea, the beaches, and those little family shops that have been in the neighbourhood for over generations. But if we talk about food from a seaside town in Catalunya or Spain, what is the first thing that come to your head? (I can already imagine the audience grunting “tapaaaaas!!!”, like the zombies claimed for “brains” a few lines ago). Yes, tapas! Great and fresh food, cold drinks and excellent ambient. Oh dear, together with the movies and stuff, this is what I call “The Sitges experience”.

Also, for the festival days, on the promenade by the beach some local stores plant their stalls to offer lots of horror and sci-fi related items. Among others, it’s easy to find every year stalls like El Setantanou with their amazing deals in DVDs and Blu-Ray, the cool t-shirts of Annexia, and many other shops with toys, posters, books and anything you can imagine for lovers of the genre.

Oh yes, for me and I bet many other people, the Sitges Film Festival week is the real holiday time of the year.

SPECIAL: SITGES 2016 – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalunya
Rob and Sheri Moon Zombie on the idyllic Sitges seaside

Our movie reviews

Here at dKillerPanda World we tried to attend to as many projections, conferences, photocalls and masterclasses as possible, but the amount of activities was so wide that it was impossible to cover it all. Still, in a film festival, the real stars of the show are the movies.

Here you can find a list of movie reviews from films seen at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival 2016. There are films like Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal or Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016) that sadly we didn’t have the chance to catch. And maybe you find missing in the list another title that was one of your favorites. Yes, too bad we couldn’t see it all, we are the first ones sad for this. But anyway, it’s a good list, a good selection, and hopefully you enjoy it!

SPECIAL: SITGES 2016 – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalunya
Christopher Walken was one of the guests to offer a Masterclass

Time to bring the curtain down

And this is our special report from the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival 2016. Perhaps it’s more about the feelings and the background of what is our favorite festival in Europe, and not so much about who we met and what we liked the best, but at least it’s a report that comes from the point of view of a fan. Yes, it was very cool to attend to the photo session of Rob Zombie and Sheri Moon Zombie to see how cute they both are. Or to crack up laughing with the speeches and masterclasses of Bruce Campbell. And also to hear the words of big wisdom that came from the mouth of Christopher Walken. And we are really excited when we heard from his own mouth that Takashi Miike was at that moment filming his new film in the very town of Sitges.

And a final summary of what movies were the coolest ones? Tough decision, so many cool films in such a short amount of time But surelly my top ranking would include The Greasy Strangler, Hardcore Henry and I am Not a Serial Killer, while my colleagues think Grave (Raw), Train to Busan and The Wailing were the most interesting ones. But that is only our opinion and we don’t even match in one single movie, so just imagine all the different and cool stuff yet to be discovered.

And for more information about the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival, you can check out their official site: http://www.sitgesfilmfestival.com.

See you there next year, Sitges! Curtain down.

Text by Dani Barreda
Video and photos by Aina Riu