‘Orphanage’ opens Sitges

Fest runs Oct. 4-14

BARCELONA — The Sitges Intl. Film Festival of Catalonia, Europe’s oldest and biggest fantasy fest, will open its 40th edition with Juan Antonio Bayona’s admired chiller “The Orphanage,” godfathered by Guillermo del Toro.

Sitges will also stage an American Gothic retro, showcasing U.S. pics from the ’70s and ’80s; George A. Romero will receive a Sitges Time Machine award.

Running Oct. 4-14, Sitges features a large spread of Spanish fantasy pics — a testament to the genre’s allure for both auds and young filmmakers in Spain.

Barcelona mini-major Filmax Ent. contributes three titles: “Rec,” a directorial mano a mano between Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza; Manuel Carballo’s religious thriller “The Just”; and the daintily-animated toon pic “Nocturna,” which is eliciting large blogger buzz in Spain.

Sitges will also screen Oscar-nommed Nacho Vigalondo’s time-travel romancer “Time Crimes,” and Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego’s rural manhunt thriller “El rey de la montana,” which saw promising sales biz at Cannes.

Produced by Rodar y Rodar, “Orphanage” played in Cannes Critics’ Week.

Fest’s main Fantastic competish features Park Chan-wook’s “I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK,” Tarsem Singh’s U.S.-India fantasy drama “The Fall,” and Mitchell Lichtestein’s buzz-laden adolescent drama, “Teeth,” a TWC-Lionsgate Sundance pickup.

Fest showcases three other talked-about titles: Tom Shankland’s gangland serial-killer thriller, “Waz,” Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo’s bloody French gore pic “A l’interieur,” and Mikael Hafstrom’s well-received hotel horror room chiller and Stephen King adaptation, “1408.”

Premiere, the sprocket opera’s main out-of-competition sidebar, includes Mike Barker’s “Butterfly on a Wheel,” toplining Pierce Brosnan, Gerard Butler and Maria Bello.

Of further parallel sections, Noves Visions bows with Robinson Devor’s sensitive zoophilia study, “Zoo”; Anima’t opens with a Japanese anime title, the delicately-animated urban kid buddy tale “Tekkonkinkreet”.

Crime action-thriller “Eye in the Sky,” from Johnnie To screenwriter Yau Nai-hoi, kicks off Asian panorama Orient Express.

Catalan Film & TV will host a Catalan Focus and three industry events: a Cine Regio European regional filmmakers forum, a Catalan Film Day, and an International Talent Campus.

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