SITGES 2003 Film Festival Report

By Lars Erik Holmquist

We welcome onboard Lars Erik Holmquist (genre movie fan extreme and expert in human-computer interaction, information visualization and ubiquitous computing!) Here Lars kindly reports extensively for SGM on the 2003 Sitges Film Festival...


Sitges 2003Another year, another Sitges festival! As I fly in over Barcelona on November 27, the first day of the festival, I can make out famous landmarks like the Sagrada Familia and the Olympia Village - but I'm not here for sightseeing, I'm here to watch movies! For the basics about the Sitges 03 festival, or officially the 36th edition of the Festival Internacional de Cinema de Catalunya, I refer to last year's report. But to give you a sense of the size and scope of this festival specializing in "fantastic" film, here are some figures (all refer to the 2002 instalment): The total audience of the festival was 150.000, making it the biggest in the European Fantastic Film Federation. The festival was budgeted at 2,65 million Euro, and situated in the small coastal town of Sitges with 23.000 inhabitants. The number of features and short films last year was 369, out of which 71% were European, 17% were from the US, and 12% from other countries (predominantly Asia). Last year I was one of the 46 accredited international "written press" reporters, and the total number of media attendants was about 750, plus 180 film professionals. (All these figures came from a handy little booklet on the Federation, sponsored by the European Union's MEDIA program!)

Lars Erik HolmquistApart from again showing the latest and greatest in genre pictures from all over the world in the OFFICIAL FANT�STIC section, some of the special sections this year included a MONDO MACABRO retrospective, with strange horror films from around the world; a very strong retrospective on new Japanese cinema; and a series of films by special guest Curtis Harrington, ranging from atmospheric debut NIGHT TIDE to a recently completed adaptation of Poe's THE HOUSE OF USHER. Of course there's the usual GRAN ANGULAR section for mainstream films; the famous Asian section ORIENT EXPRESS; animated movies from all over the world in ANIMA'T; a special section of "midnight movies" (aren't they all at this festival?!) called SESSION GOLFES; and the catch-all category for anything unusual, NOVES VISION. Directors in attendance included Tobe Hooper, Stuart Gordon and Takashi Miike, all with new films in tow, and of course Barcelona-based Brian Yuzna could be seen plugging new product from his FANTASTIC FACTORY. Add to that screenings of television work and classic features like LA RESIDENCA from Spain's own Ib��es Serrador (also in attendance); the BRIGADOON video section; critics sections like SEVEN CHANCES; plus a multitude of specials and one-offs, and it's clear that nobody has a chance to see a fraction of the program in the ten days allotted, no matter me in my meagre five and a half.

For a full lowdown on each day's proceedings simply click on the respective day�

Day one:

EL TREN DE LA BRUJA (Koldo Serra, Spain 2003)

CAMARA OSCURA (Pau Freixas, Spain 2003)

USHER (Curtis Harrington, USA 2002)

JUON: THE GRUDE 2 (Takashi Shimizu, Japan 2003)

D�DALES (Ren� Manzor, France 2003)

Day two:

SO CLOSE (Cory Yuen, Hong Kong 2002)

FEAR X (Nicolas Winding Refn, Denmark / Great Britain / Canada 2002)

BLOOD BROTHERS (Chang Che, Hong Kong 1973)

THE MANSON FAMILY (Jim Van Bebber, USA 2003)

Day three:

S.W.A.T. (Clark Johnson, USA 2003)

Fantastic short film (Various)

ONG-BAK. MUAY THAI WARROR (Prachya Pinkaew, Thailand 2003)

KILL BILL (Quentin Tarantino, USA 2003)


BOY IN THE BOX (Screaming Mad George, USA 2003)

KING OF THE ANTS (Stuart Gordon, USA 2003)

Day four:

KAENA: THE PROPHECY (Chris Delaporte and Pascal Pinon, France 2003)

UNDEAD (The Spiering Brothers, Australia 2002)

HELL'S HIGHWAY (Bret Wood, USA 2003)

Day five:


ALL TOMORROW'S PARTIES (Yu Lik Wai, China 2003)

DANCING (Patrick-Mario Bernard, Xavier Brillad and Pierre Trividic, France 2002)

DEAD END (Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa, France-USA 2003)

DOPPELGANGER (Kiyoshi Kuorsawa, Japan 2003)

HAUTE TENSIONS (Alexander Aja, France 2003)

Day six:

THE UNINVITED (Lee Soon-yeon, South Korea 2003)

INTO THE MIRROR (Kim Sung-Ho, South Korea 2003)

Summing up & Fantastic Winners

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