‘Candy,’ ‘Cloud’ split Sitges kudos

Fantasy fest share prizes between Slade and Tsai pix

MADRID — David Slade’s castration shocker “Hard Candy” and Taiwanese Tsai Ming-liang’s tongue-in-cheek sex musical “The Wayward Cloud” added significantly to their kudos count, splitting top honors Monday at the Sitges Intl. Film Festival of Catalonia.

Sitges is Europe’s biggest fantasy film meet. Barring Spanish world preems, its Official Fantastic comp cherrypicks major titles at major fests. So the best film and screenplay (Brian Nelson) prizes for “Candy” and the special jury and actor (Lee Kang-sheng) kudos for “Cloud” were no slam dunks.

The Sitges jury also found an upright, serious purpose behind “Cloud” mix of irreverent camp musical routines, offbeat sex and two lines of extended dialogue praising its “bold aesthetic and moral discourse against sexual alienation.”

“Hard Candy” and “Cloud” bested the two pics that towered above all others in terms of audience expectation: “Sympathy For Lady Vengeance,” which played to critical and audience acclaim, copping best actress for Lee Yeong-ae; and Tsui Hark’s fest opener “Seven Swords,” which scooped cinematography for DP Keung Kwok Man, and received the ultimate film-buff sanctification when Quentin Tarantino sailed into Sitges requesting a screening of the film.

Johnnie To took best director for the second year running, this time round for “Election.”

With all these films known quantities, industry interest turned on preeming local fare. Spain’s biggest bow, Antonio Hernandez’s competish player, the contempo relationship vendetta “Oculto,” sparked acclaim, while also disconcerting genre brats, for jumping from a thriller to drama.

Widely sold already by Filmax, Luis de la Madrid’s nun-from-the-dead “La monja” (The Nun) delivers an able Catholic boarding-school skew on the “I Know What You Did…” slasher format.

Standouts among local Catalan pics included Carlos Martin Ferrera’s resonant kidnap thriller “Zulo,” in the Catalan Focus; David Mauas’ docu “Who Killed Walter Benjamin?,” which floats a conspiracy theory for the German writer’s death, and, among titles available for DVD screening at the Oct.12-14 Sitges Sales Office, Jaume Domenech’s diving drama “Marina.”

In its second year, located in the bay of Sitges with a breath-taking view of the Mediterranean, the Sales Office consolidated as a mini-mart, doubling accredited companies.

Acquisitions exex featured a dozen buyers from Asia, repping, among others, Pony Canyon, Comstock, Phantom, Nikkatsu, and Tube Ent..

“It’s a great way to check out Catalan product, and it raised the bar in terms of organization and screening facilities,” said Venevision Intl. Films head of acquisitions Jose Ramon Ganchegui.

By Monday, Latido was closing “Oculto” for Brazil, and Venevision advancing on several pickups of Sitges titles for the U.S. There was buyer interest on the KWA-sold “H6,” a remorseless serial killer-cum-horror thriller from first-timer Martin Garrido Baron. Most frequently screened Sales Office titles included Jo Sol’s “The Taxi Thief,” which is being chased after by several sales companies, and Elisabet Cabeza and Esteve Riambau’s Civil War pic docu “The Magicians.”

Providing star-power were Tarantino, who presented Eli Roth’s “Hostel,” which he produced; Jodie Foster, who promoted “Flightplan;” and Viggo Mortensen and David Cronenberg, in the resort for fest closer “A History of Violence.”

38TH SITGES INTL. FILM FESTIVAL OF CATALONIA, OCT. 9-18, 2005:

OFFICIAL FANTASY COMPETITION AWARDS

BEST FILM

“Hard Candy” (David Slade, U.S.)

SPECIAL JURY AWARD

“The Wayward Cloud” (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan)

BEST DIRECTOR

Johnnie To (“Election,” Hong-Kong)

BEST ACTOR

Lee Kang-sheng (“The Wayward Cloud”)

BEST ACTRESS

“Sympathy for Lady Vengeance” (Lee Yeong-ae, South Korea)

BEST SCREENPLAY

“Hard Candy” (Brian Nelson)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

“Seven Swords” (Keung Kwok Man, Hong-Kong-China-South Korea)

BEST ART DIRECTION

“MirrorMask” (Dave McKean, U.K.-U.S.)

BEST MAKE UP F/X

“MirrorMask” (Jamie Niman)

BEST F/X

“The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes” (Thomas Mulack, U.K.-Germany)

BEST ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

“A Bittersweet Life” (Dalpalan and Jang Yeong-gyu, South Korea)

ORIENT EXPRESS-CASA ASIA AWARD

“Antartic Journal” (Yim Phil-sung, South Korea)

ANIMAT GERTIE BEST FILM AWARD

“The District” (Aron Gauder, Hungary)

SILVER MELIES, BEST EUROPEAN MOTION PICTURE

“Trouble” (Harry Cleven, France-Belgium)

AUDIENCE AWARD

“Hard Candy” (David Slade, U.S.)

JOSE LUIS GUARNER CRITICS AWARD

“The Wayward Cloud” (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan)

CITIZEN KANE AWARD TO AN UP-AND-COMING DIRECTOR Emmanuel Carrere (“La Moustache,” France)

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