SITGES– Thriller “The Invitation” took best picture at the 48th Sitges Film Festival on Saturday. Helmed by Karyn Kusama, “Invitation” explores the near sub-genre consisting of a friends’ party that emotionally and dramaticallyheads out of control. “Invitation” opened 2015’s SXSW Fest and Variety reviewer Justin Chang gave it a thumbs-up, calling it “teasingly effective.”
Starring Logan Marshall-Green and Emayatzy Corinealdi, “Invitation” is penned by Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi and is sold internationally by Austin-based Drafthouse Films.
Movie marks Brooklyn -born Kusama’s most acclaimed outing since her debut “Girlfight,” which nabbed grand jury and director prizes in Sundance 2000.
Sitges tapped first-timer S. Craig Zhaler as top director for “Bone Tomahawk,” a horror western following four men trying to rescue captives menaced by cannibals. Film stars Kurt Russell. Bob Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment — formerly Image Ent. — has Canada and U.S. rights of this humorous western satire echoing John Ford’s “The Searchers.” “Bone” also took the Jose Luis Guarner Critics Award.
U.S. productions won five of the main kudos, which could be seen as symptomatic of the industry as foreign production surges have either failed to find a home audience (as in France) or be decimated by economic crisis (the case in Spain). However, genre production seems alive and well in the U.S., with U.S. talent sometimes creating link-ups with international, such as XYZ, one of the companies behind “Invitation.”
“Indie U.S. production muscle is growing enormously. Perhaps we should take note of what there is being done,” said fest director Angel Sala at the prizes conference press.
Catalan/Spanish genre fare won minor prizes but the productions still show the impact of a long downturn. Just two pics were included in competition. South Korea received only one kudo, for Asia Focus best movie, for Ryoo Seung-wan’s “Veteran.”
Actress trophy went to Pili Grogne for the Belgium-Luxembourg-France co-production “The Brand New Testament,” directed by Jaco van Dormael (“Toto the Hero”). Young actress Grogne (Fabrice Du Welz’s “Alleluia”) plays a shy daughter who’s intimidated by her temperamental father who happens to be God, living in Brussels and relieving His boredom with his laptop.
Joel Edgerton, who’s also a writer and director, took the best actor nod for his perf in “The Gift.” In Variety’s review of the film, Peter Debruge praised Edgerton’s “superbly creepy performance, which could easily have evolved into ghoulish revenge-of-the-nerd caricature, but instead turns Gordo into a simultaneously pitiable and unsettling figure.”
Offering a sprawling panorama of 169 movies in all sections, the Sitges Fest sold this year 76,336 tickets, up a spectacular 39% vs. 2014’s 55,000 tickets), thanks in part to adding one new screen.
The official lineup comprised 37 movies, a challenge for jurors and journalists alike.
The 48th Sitges Festival ran Oct. 9-18.
And the winners are:
Craig Zhaler (“Bone Tomahawk,” U.S.)
SPECIAL JURY AWARD
“The Final Girls” (director, Todd Strauss-Schulson; writers, M.A. Fortin, Joshua John Miller, U.S.)
Pili Grogne (“The Brand New Testament,” Belgium, Luxembourg, France)
Joel Edgerton (“The Gift,” Australia, U.S. )
M.A. Fortin, Joshua John Miller (“The Final Girls”)
Marcin Wrona (“Demon,” Poland, Israel)
Makoto Kamiya, (“I Am a Hero,” Shinsuke Sato, Japan)
BEST MUSIC AWARD
Jean-Philippe Bernier, Jean-Nicolas Leupi, Le Matos (“Turbo Kid,” Canada, New Zealand)
YOUTH JURY AWARD
“Turbo Kid,” (Anouk Whissell, François Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissell)
JOSE LUIS GUARNER CRITICS’ AWARD
CITIZEN KANE AWARD TO AN UP-AND-COMING DIRECTOR
Stephen Fingleton (“The Survivalist,” U.K.)
LA VANGUARDIA PUBLIC AWARD
“I Am a Hero”
NON-FICTION FANTASTIC PANORAMA
“Lost Soul – The Doomed Journey Of Richard Stanley’s Island Of Dr. Moreau,” (David Gregory, U.S.)
“Veteran” (Ryoo Seung-wan, South Korea)
BEST ANIMATION FILM AWARD
“Miss Hokusai” (Keiichi Hara, Japan)
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
“Voltaire” (Jan Snoekx, Belgium, Netherlands)
“The Orchestra,” (Mikey Hill, Australia)
“Bound to Vengeance,” (Jose Manuel Cravioto, Mexico, U.S.)
MELIES D’ARGENT BEST FILM
“The Brand New Testament,” (Jaco van Dormael)
MELIES D’ARGENT BEST SHORT
“Graffiti,” (Lluis Quilez, Spain)
BLOOD WINDOW (LATIN AMERICAN PRODUCTION)
“The Similars,” (Isaac Ezban, Mexico)
BRIGADOON AWARD FOR BEST SHORT
“Caradecaballo,” (Marc Martinez Jordan, Spain)
NEW VISIONS AWARDS
“Anomalisa,” (Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson, U.S.)
“Men & Chicken,” (Anders Thomas Jensen, Denmark, Germany)
NEW VISIONS BEST SHORT
“Disco Inferno,” (Alice Waddington, Spain)
“Formas de jugar,” (Gemma Blasco, Spain )
NEW VISIONS PLUS
“Anabel,” (Antonio Trashorras, Spain)
“Lovemilla,” (Teemu Nikki, Finland)
OTHER GENRES – ORBITA AWARD
“SPL2: A Time for Consequences,” (Soi Cheang, Hong Kong)
John Maclean (“Slow West,” U.K., New Zealand)
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
“The Taking of Tiger Mountain” (Tsui Hark, China)
PHONETASTIC MOBILE AWARD – BEST SHORT
“Blackout” (Sylvain Certain, France)
SITGES CINE 365 Film
“Zero” (David Victori)