BARCELONA — In its 41st edition, Europe’s largest genre movie event, the Sitges Intl. Film Festival, shows no signs of age. To the contrary, insists fest director Angel Sala, “Genre films are in excellent health, especially in France, but also in all Europe and Argentina, Chile and Mexico.”

At Sitges’ helm since 2000, Sala is convinced such competition players as “Martyrs” and “Vinyan” will make waves for the fest this year.

Set beside the Mediterranean and 30 minutes south of Catalan capital Barcelona, Sitges rolls off robust local interest.

“Barcelona has a strong fantasy film fanbase: ‘Twin Peaks’ and ‘X-Files’ scored their best Spanish TV ratings here,” Sala says. “At Sitges, we’ve tried to show that apparently out-there niche cinema can be discovered and enjoyed by large audiences.”

Sitges has grown under Sala, buoyed by the international lure of Spanish genre films. Last year, the fest world-preemed “REC,” bowed Cannes player “The Orphanage” in Spain and gave an enthusiastic audience reception to Nacho Vigalondo’s “Time Crimes,” fresh from its Fantastic Fest debut in Austin, Texas.

Though Spanish films regularly surface at other fests, Sitges helps to consolidate their reputation at home.

“We bet on Sitges, waiting for October to launch the film,” says “Orphanage” producer Joaquim Padro. “It’s a great Spanish film showcase. As a market, it should make efforts to be a first-division player.”

Sitges will screen two major-league newbies this year: Miguel Marti’s “Sexy Killer,” starring Macarena Gomez as a fashion-fangirl psycho, and “Santos,” Chilean Nicolas Lopez’s sophomore pic about a dweeby comicbook writer-turned-spantex superhero.

“Santos,” which was produced by Boomerang Cine and Telecinco Cinema and heavily posted at Robert Rodriguez and Elizabeth Avellan’s Troublemaker Studios, marks the Spanish-speaking world’s first full-film immersion in sci-fi f/x filmmaking — just the sort of achievement Sitges auds appreciate.


When: Oct. 2-12

Where: Hotel Melia Sitges, Cine El Retiro, Cine Prado, Miramar – Sitges, Spain

Web: cinemasitges.com