SITGES, Spain — Two homegrown movies, Kike Maillo’s “Eva” and Jaume Balaguero’s “Sleep Tight,” dominated early media buzz at Spain’s 44th Sitges festival, which kicked off Thursday.
Both are produced out of Barcelona, just a half-hour drive up the Mediterranean coast from Sitges.
A Wild Bunch sales hit and a U.S. pick-up by The Weinstein Co., “Eva” is — for Spain — a ground-breaking robot meller.
Toplining Daniel Bruehl as an emotionally reticent A.I. genius lured back to his home town to design the most emotionally advanced replicant in the world, “Eva” opened Sitges.
Paramount will bow “Eva” on 302 copies Oct. 28, said producer Sergi Casamitjana at Escandalo.
“Sleep Tight,” which world preemed at the Austin Fantastic Fest, is the latest pic from Balaguero, a Sitges Time Machine awardee this year, whose “The Nameless” — produced like “Tight” by Filmax — raised the curtain on Barcelona’s upscale genre pic production.
Written by Barcelona-based producer Alberto Marini, “Tight” stars Luis Tosar (“Miami Vice”) as a sadistic, voyeuristic doorman hell-bent on scaring a tenant (Marta Etura) out of her wits.
A perverse thriller, with echoes of Roman Polanski’s “The Tenant,” “Tight” is a far cry from the shuddering camerawork of Balaguero zombie-fest “REC.” It was hailed by some of Spain’s most influential newspapers as Balaguero’s best pic to date.
Both pics mesh mainstream tropes with some of the psychological complexity of arthouse fare.
That middle-ground mix also informed the best-reviewed foreign titles in Sitges’ early running — Mike Cahill’s sci-fi allegory and relationship-drama “Another Earth,” already a Sundance prize winner, and Cary Fukunaga’s Gothic-romancer “Jane Eyre,” described as a “perfect adaptation” by Spanish daily El Pais.
Among other pics, Xavier Gens’ “The Divide” divided opinions; Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion” was respectfully received; and helmer-scribe Juan Martinez Moreno’s comedy “Lobos de arga” (Game of Werewolves), produced by Spain’s Telespan 2000 and Vaca Films, sparked hoots of laughter.
At fest’s opening ceremony, Bigas Luna and Rodar y Rodar director-producer Mar Targarona picked up honorary Marias, the latter for her pioneering Screenwriters Workshop Foundation.
A trailer for Paco Plaza’s Filmax-produced “REC 3 Genesis,” featuring a zombie-wedding invasion, raised long applause.
A line to see the first images of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” stretched 100 yards from fest’s main Sitges Melia hotel.
Fest runs through Oct. 16.