Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sitges Film Festival

Sitges is a small Spanish town located 30 minutes south of Barcelona. Every year, Sitges hosts one of my favorite film festivals; a fantastic film festival that is truly fantastic. Nowadays film festivals are a booming business (even during the economic crisis), but Sitges has been around for over 40 years, and that gives the festival credibility. It is no secret that I fancy the horror/sci fi genre, but that is not the only reason why I love Sitges. It is has to do more with the audience; they (we) are real movie fans. It is true that the horror/sci fi genere does have the proclivity of attracting hardcore fans, but I’ve never seen this type of fandom anywhere else. I’ve only been to a few other festivals but if I had to pick one festival to go for the rest of my life, Sitges would be it.

The weather in Sitges is perfect for watching movies (is there bad weather for watching movies?) and the town is small with all the venues within walking distance. If you go to Sitges you go to watch movies, but if that’s not your cup of tea you can walk around the small picturesque streets. Sometimes when you can’t get the movies you want, you might need to do just that. You can also walk down to the beach, if that’s more like you.

The audience is utterly enthusiastic about every movie, even the bad ones. That doesn’t mean that the audience is dumb, it just means that they want to have fun and experience films. I remember a particular screening of Takashi Shimizu’s Ghost vs. Alien 03 (2007), which isn’t a particular good movie, and maybe not even a movie but rather a collection of straight to video shorts, yet the audience clapped and cheered after the screening. Only in Sitges; had it been Cannes everyone would’ve walked out.

Sitges also has its fair share of celebrities and as opposed to other festivals, in Sitges they are accessible to everyone. I had the opportunity of meeting Oldboy’s wunderkind director Park Chan Wook at a Q&A session in Sitges, in Cannes I had to see him from the barricades. Yes, other festivals do offer access to the filmmakers and actors, but are other festivals 42 year old?

Other than Cannes and Sundance, I’m not aware of any other festival being immortalized in film in the way Sitges was. John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns has the ill fated “Le Fin Absolue du Monde” premiere at Sitges; offering a perfect homage, a sort of love letter to the festival. Every year you hear stories of people fainting during the screening of a movie and although I have never seen it, it adds to the mystic and legend of Sitges.

I would watch 5 movies per day for three or four days, and by the end we would always wish we had more time and more movies. This year I won’t be attending, but Violeta will, and although it will be her first time alone at the festival she promised to keep me posted. Will this be another great year for Sitges? I am sure it will be. I will tell you more later. 

No comments:

Post a Comment