BARCELONA — “The Occupant,” “9 Steps” and “They Vanished” are among seven projects to be pitched at the 4th Sitges Pitchbox on Oct 5.
The in-development forum for horror, science fiction or fantastic genre feature films is hosted by the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival in Catalonia and Filmarket Hub, the online platform for films and series in development.
Following on Guillermo del Toro, “Hellboy” and “Alien: Resurrection” star Ron Perlman will be this year’s special guest. Before the pitching sessions, the actor will deliver a speech encouraging the debutants’ careers, and sharing tips on how to navigate the rough waters of genre cinema.
A fantasy thriller, “They Vanished” focuses on Alicia, a reserved agent retired from the Chilean Police, struggling with a ruthless depression after losing her only son. Her retirement will take a turn when she is forced back into service to investigate an impossible case: the mass disappearance of all the inhabitants of a remote village in the Atacama Desert. Directed by Inti Carrizo-Ortiz (“The Night”), the feature is produced by Chile’s Estudio 19 Producciones –run by Inti and Arantza Carrizo. “They Vanished” won the Chilean Corfo Audiovisual Development contest in 2017.
The project “finds its roots in the imperative need to explore the fears and demons characterizing Chilean and Latin American identity through cinema,” Carrizo-Ortiz observed.
“9 Steps” is a mystery horror drama centering on 9-year-old Sara, who trades her childhood fears for scarier ones. Feature is based on the short of the same name, nominated for the Méliès d’Argent by the Brussels Intl. Fantastic Film Festival.
Written and directed by first-timers Moisés Romera and Marisa Crespo, “9 Steps” is being developed by Spanish Proyecta Films. The directors explained that they wove together a true story, popular legends, and their short— building, they hope, a consistent and unique story.
From the Netherlands, “The Occupant” weighs in as “psychological dramatic thriller with a sci-fi twist,” explained producer Maurice Schutte, at Oneplayer Productions. Written by Philip Michael Howe and directed by first-timer Hugo Keijzer, it focuses on a female geologist who survives a mysterious helicopter crash in the wilds.
Pablo S. Pastor’s “The Night of the Crow” follows Heather, who has to face the painful tribulations of adolescence: She hasn’t come out of the closet, is overcoming her father’s recent death, and moves to a godforsaken one-horse town. Then things get far worse. Written by Pastor and Fernando Polanco, the project is based on Pastor’s short “Bye Bye Baby,” screened at Sitges last year.
“I want Heather Baker to enter the lists of the most iconic ‘scream queens’ of horror genre, and I want to provoke in teenagers today what films such ‘Scream’ in the 90s did to me,” said Pastor. Project is executive produced by Spanish Xavier Rull at Noctambule Cinema.
A supernatural thriller, following up Pedro Cristiani’s award-winning same-titled short, “Deus Irae” follows a priest whose mission is to explore cases in which people say they have witnessed miracles or Satanic actions with the aim of offer rational explanations for the events. The producers aim to shoot in Argentina.
Title is “a dense, bizarre character drama, with a stylized visual treatment close to ‘True Detective,’ ‘Les Revenants’,” director Cristiani explained.
Produced by Samuel Sosa and Laura Imperiale’s Cacerola Films (Mexico), cannibalistic thriller “Eat Me” centers on a jaded food critic to whom a friend unveils new sexual and palate experiences. It’s the sophomore feature of David Michán (“Adverse Reactions”), an accredited director of commercials and music videos.
Written by Isabella Aguilar and Davide Orsini “The Second Child” marks the debut feature of Igor Borghi. It features an American croupier who goes to her older sister’s home in Venice to take a break after an overdose. One day, she recklessly leaves the children who had been entrusted to her and on her return, finds one of them dead.
Conceived as a supernatural thriller, the feature aims to “chronicle a complex psychological-familiar dynamic that flows into drama,” Borghi said. The project is produced by EDI (Effetti Digitali Italiani srl).
In addition to the 7-project competition, the Pitchbox will promote two projects deriving, respectively, from agreements with the Bucheon Film Festival BiFan and Ventana Sur’s Blood Window: Woo Ming Jin’s “Siri,” from Malaysia’s Greenlight Pictures, a revenge thriller about a maid agency cleaner who moonlights as a cosplay artist; and Lucila Las Heras’ “The Muglur” (Ñapango Producciones, Buenos Aires), a study of gender violence and addiction through the portrait of a female writer.
The Pitchbox will also give special mentions to 12 other projects which almost made its cut.
Awards for Sitges Pitchbox winners are a €5,000 ($5,807) cash prize and paid expenses to attend and present projects at BiFan and Blood Window.
This year the event received more than 200 submissions. According to Filmarket Hub co-founder Bernardo Gómez Echevarría, these mainly originated from Spain, other European countries and Latin America, and to a lesser extent, the U.S. and Canada.
“It looks like Robert Eggers’ ‘The Witch’ is becoming a kind of centerpiece reference. Many projects try to be disturbing and atmospheric, rather than shockfests,” putting aside the accumulation of scares.”
Other Pitchbox events organized by Filmarket Hub include the Barcelona Pitchbox, Madrid TV Pitchbox and London TV Pitchbox.
Europe’s biggest genre moves event, Sitges Film Festival, will run Oct. 4-14.
2018 4TH SITGES PITCHBOX TITLES, OCT. 5, 2018:
“9 Steps,” Moisés Romera and Marisa Crespo
“Deus Irae,” Pedro Cristiani
“Eat Me,” David Michán
“The Night Of The Crow,” Pablo S. Pastor
“The Occupant,” Hugo Keijzer
“The Second Child,” Igor Borghi
“They Vanished,” Inti Carrizo-Ortiz