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Gaspar Noé’s ‘Climax’ Takes Top Honors at Sitges

A number of titles which wowed at Cannes found equally friendly audiences at the Catalan genre festival

BARCELONA— A take on physical joy and hellish pain, Gaspar Noé‘s “Climax” took best film at the 51st Sitges’ Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia.

Among other main awards, Panos Cosmatos (“Mandy“), Quentin Dupieux (“Keep An Eye Out”) and “Atsushi Doi” snagged director, script and FX respectively.

Produced by Germany’s Wild Bunch and Rectangle Productions,”Climax” took Cannes’ 2018 Directors’ Fortnight top unofficial prize, the CICAE Art Cinema Award. selling to a24 for the U.S., it sparked maybe the biggest consensus thumbs-up in the director’s career for its early going, chronicling a dance troupe performance. After that, as is typical with Noe, the feature sparked mixed radically mixed reactions.

Italian-Canadian filmmaker Panos Cosmatos scooped best director for his sophomore effort “Mandy,” starring Nicolas Cage and Andrea Riseborough, a stylized romance between two misfits involving Messianic members of a biker gang.

Sold by XYZ Films, “Mandy” is produced by Belgium’s UMedia and U.S.’ SpectreVision, and was also an entry at Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight, having premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

This year’s festival also screened the first three episodes of the much-awaited “Virtual Hero,” an original anime series from Movistar + in co-production with Zeppelin and Grupo Planeta. Show is created by Ruben Doblas, a.k.a. El Rubius, a renown YouTuber with 31.7 million subscribers, who has described his series as Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” meets “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The series is directed by Alexis Barroso who adapted it from the same-titled comic book from El Rubius.

Thousands of fans convened at the Melia Hotel all night waiting to watch the new series, which registered an upbeat reaction on social media networks.

Movistar + also staged the Spanish premiere of the first episode of “Castle Rock,” produced by J. J. Abrams. Two original Netflix productions – Mike Flanagan’s “The Haunting of Hill House” and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”– were also showcased at Serial Sitges.

Riseborough took best actress for her work in “Mandy.” Best actor went to Hasan Majuni for his work in Mani Haghighi’s “Pig,” an Iranian black comedy where he plays a renowned filmmaker who is put on a government blacklist and doomed to see his actress, lover and muse (Leila Hatami) participate in the fantasy film of his ultimate enemy.

Produced by Japan’s Toho Co, Shinsuke Sato’s “Inuyashiki” scooped the F/X Award. In the feature, two very different characters –a friendless middle-aged man and a teenager– mutate into two powerful cyborgs after an alien encounter.  Adapted from a manga by Hiroya Oku, “Inuyashiki,” sales are handled by Japan’s Pony Canyon.

“Happy as Lazzaro” took two kudos, the audience and critics’ awards. Alice Rohrwacher’s third feature also snagged best screenplay at Cannes this year. Feature is sold by Germany’s The Match Factory.

The shared hit-list between Sitges and Cannes could be seen as indicative of a movement which is seeing high-end, auteur genre gaining broader arthouse appreciation.

This year’s tributes included M. Night Shyamalan –who offered a first look at “Glass” – Nicolas Cage, Tilda Swinton, Peter Weir and Ed Harris. Each was granted Sitges’ Grand Honorary Award. U.S. actress Pam Grier, Hong Kong actress-producer Josie Ho and Golden Globe winner Ron Perlman all received the Time Machine Award.

Sitges is visibly boosting its industry-driven events. This year’s fest hosted the 4th Sitges Pitchbox, a competition staged in partnership with online platform Filmarket Hub and godfathered this year by Ron Pearlman. Main award went to “Deus Irae” by Argentina’s Pedro Cristiani.

In addition to Sitges Pitchbox, the Industry Hub, hosted by Catalan Films & TV, offered roundtables, presentations and master classes. The Blood Red Carpet promoted young acting and filmmaking talent by selecting three actors, actresses and directors whose first or second work is included in the Festival’s official selection, presenting them to different groups of industry players. The directors this year were R. Robles, Sandra Arriagada and Nicolás Puenzo, the actors Brays Efe, Martiño Rivas and Sergi Cervera, and the actresses Katrin Vankova, Laia Manzanares and Georgina Amorós.

Another industry initiative, Sitges Taboo’ks selected four literary works and a case study of an adaptation project to present to industry professionals attending the Festival. A roundtable with the title of Cryptocurrency  and Blockchain in the World of Entertainment brought together Perlman, Cody Hackman and Nate Bolotin. Slate, a blockchain-based entertainment utility generating a cryptocurrency (slatix), is a new sponsor of the festival.

The fest also hosted Sitges Market Premieres, an industry screening showcase for projects that are finished or in post-production.

Sala announced that next year Sitges will pay tribute to “Mad Max,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Alien.” The 51st edition of Sitges closed Oct. 14 with the homage-screening of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

51st Sitges Intl. Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia Winners

OFFICIAL FANTASTIC COMPETITION

BEST FILM

“Climax,” (Gaspar Noé, France)

SPECIAL MENTION

“L’heure de la sortie,” (Sébastien Marnier, France)

BEST DIRECTOR

Panos Cosmatos (“Mandy,” Belgium, U.S.)

SPECIAL JURY AWARD

“Happy as Lazzaro,” (Alice Rohrwacher, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany)

BEST ACTRESS

Andrea Riseborough (“Nancy,” Christina Choe, U.S.)

BEST ACTOR

Hasan Majuni (“Pig,” Mani Haghighi, Iran )

BEST SCREENPLAY

Quentin Dupieux (“Keep An Eye Out,” Quentin Dupieux, France)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Pankaj Kumar (“Tumbbad,” Rahil Anil Barve, Adesh Prasad, India)

BEST MUSICAL SCORE

Chu Ishikawa (“Killing,” Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan)

BEST F/X

Atsushi Doi, (“Inuyashiki,” Shinsuke Sato, Japan)

BEST SHORT

“Post Mortem Mary,” (Joshua Long, Australia)

AUDIENCE AWARD

“Upgrade,” (Leigh Whannell, Australia)

AUDIENCE AWARD – PANORAMA FANTASTIC SECTION

“Monstrum,” (Huh Jong-ho, South Korea)

JOSE LUIS GUARNER CRITICS’ AWARD

“Happy as Lazzaro”

SPECIAL MENTION

“Under the Silver Lake,” (David Robert Mitchell, U.S.)

CITIZEN KANE AWARD TO AN UP-AND-COMING DIRECTOR

Adam Sedlák (“Domestik,” Czech Republic, Slovakia)

YOUTH JURY AWARDS

“Happy as Lazzaro,” (Alice Rohrwacher, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany)

BEST MIDNIGHT X-TREME

“May The Devil Take You,” (Timo Tjahjanto, Indonesia)

ASIA FOCUS

BEST FILM

“Tumbbad” (Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi, India, Sweden)

SPECIAL MENTION

“May The Devil Take You” (Timo Tjahjanto, Indonesia)

ANIMATION AWARDS

BEST ANIMATED FILM AWARD

“Mirai,” (Mamoru Hosoda, Japan)

SPECIAL MENTION

“Tito And The Birds,” (Gustavo Steinberg, Gabriel Bitar, André Catoto, Brazil)

BEST ANIMATED SHORT

“The Wheel Turns,” (Sang Joon Kim, U.S., Japan, South Korea)

SHORT SPECIAL MENTION

“Untravel,” (Ana Nedeljovic, Nikola Majdak, Serbia, Slovakia)

MELIES D’ARGENT

BEST FILM

“Fugue,” (Agnieszka Smoczynska, Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden)

MELIES D’ARGENT BEST SHORT

“The Death Of Don Quixote,” (Miguel Faus, U.K.)

BLOOD WINDOW (LATIN AMERICAN PRODUCTION)

“Murder Me, Monster,” (Alejandro Fadel, Argentina, France, Chile)

BRIGADOON PAUL NASCHY AWARD FOR BEST SHORT

“Baghead,” (Alberto Corredor, U.K.)

NEW VISIONS AWARDS

BEST FILM

“Sad Hill Unearthed,” (Guillermo de Oliveira, Spain)

SPECIAL MENTION

“Domestique,” (Adam Sedlák, Czech Republic, Slovakia)

BEST DIRECTOR

Philip Groning (“My Brother’s Name Is Robert and He’s An Idiot,” Germany, France, Switzerland)

BEST ACTRESS SPECIAL MENTION

Jessie Buckley (“Beast,” Michael Pearce, U.K.)

BEST SHORT

“Deer Boy,” (Katarzyna Gondek, Poland)

SHORT SPECIAL MENTION

“Chernobyl, 1986,” (Toni Comas, U.S., Spain)

DISCOVERY BEST FEATURE AWARD

“Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms,” (Mari Okada, Japan)

SLATIX SITGES COCOON

BEST VR FEATURE

“Deerbrook,” (Grayson Moore, Aidan Shipley, Jon Riera, Connor Illsley, Canada)

FANTASTIC PANORAMA /DOCUMENTARY

“Goodbye Ringo,” (Pere Marzo Font, Spain, Italy)

ORBITA AWARD

“American Animals,” (Bart Layton, U.S.)

SPECIAL MENTION

“Black Tide,” (Erick Zonca, France)

SGAE AWARDS – NEW CATALAN AUTHORS

BEST SHORT

“Jauría,” Gemma Blasco

BEST SCRIPT

Aleix Abulí (“Ciutat i selva”)

BEST MUSIC

Natasha Arizu (“Dot,” Pia Gaspar)”)

SPECIAL MENTION

“La fuga de los 45,” (Cristina Caamaño)

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