BARCELONA — Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s debut feature “The Platform” was awarded best film, and best F/X at the 52nd Sitges’ Intl. Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia. Gaztelu-Urrutia also snagged the Citizen Kane Award for an up-and-coming director and the Audience Award for best picture. The prizes come off the back of the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at Toronto’s Midnight Madness.
Produced by Carlos Juárez at Bilbao-based outfit Basque Films in co-production with Barcelona’s Mr. Miyagi, Gaztelu-Urrutia’s debut offers a harsh survival parable of power human relationships in a dystopic multi-floor dungeon prison. Its oft-starving dwellers handle the situation with existential and cannibalistic inclinations. The nightmarish script was co-written by successful Catalan playwright David Desola (“Warehoused”) and Pedro Rivero, co-director of Gkids U.S. pick-up “Bird Boy.”
Bilbao-born Gaztelu-Urrutia is an experienced producer at Basque Films and has directed commercials as well as two shorts. One, “House on the Lake,” won awards at festivals such as Kinofest Film Festival (Bucharest Romania), Salento Finibus Terrae Festival (Italia) and Cinemad (Spain). Sold by Latido Films, Netflix has acquired “The Platform” worldwide rights except some territories in Asia.
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This year’s jury included director-producer-writer Anurag Kashyap (“Dabba,” “Gangs of Wasseypur”), producers Alan Jones and Marina Ortiz, editor Mary Jo Markey and casting director Nancy Bishop.
Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles won the best director award for “Bacurau,” in which writers expose Brazil’s convoluted socio-political situation through a dreadful human safari. Written by Mendonça and Dornelles, it’s sold by Paris’ SBS International and premiered to an upbeat reception in competition at Cannes.
“The Platform” and “Bacurau” highlight a lineup full of features set in dystopic apocalyptic universes and heavy on social criticism. It was a trend at the 2019 Sitges Festival, whose leitmotiv was the post-apocalyptic atmosphere of “Mad Max.”
Best screenplay went to Mirrah Foulkes for her debut directorial feature “Judy & Punch,” “a tale of domestic-violence revenge set in a satirical-whimsical land of never-was,” according to its Variety review.
The best actor award went to Miles Robbins for his performance in Adam Egypt Mortimer’s “Daniel Isn’t Real.” Robbins plays Luke, a distressed college student who, after suffering a violent family trauma, revives his childhood imaginary friend. The film snagged the Choice Award for best director at 23rd Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival last July.
U.K.’s Imogen Poots (Michael Winterbottom’s “The Look of Love”) took best actress for her performance in Lorcan Finnegan’s “Vivarium,” a sinister and austere sci-fi parable of dehumanization.
Another big winner on the day was the sixth feature from Belgian director Fabrice du Welz, “Adoration,” which took the special jury prize, cinematography award and Méliès D’Argent Best Film. World-premiered at Locarno and sold by Memento Films Intl, it’s the last of the director’s Ardennes-based trilogy (“Calvaire,” “Alleluia”) and follows the peripeteia of two young lovers who flee from a mental institution in search of their “haven of peace.”
Traditionally a launchpad for young local talent in genre cinema, this Sitges edition delivered a robust brace of movies by up-and-coming directors with five Spanish directors in the main section – Gaztelu-Urrutia, Óscar Martín (“Amigo”), Aritz Moreno (“Advantages of Traveling by Train”), José Luis Montesinos (“Strings”) and Alice Waddington (“Paradise Hills”).
World-premieres offered at Sitges included: Jonas Alexander Arnby’s “Suicide Tourist,” “Advantages of Traveling by Train,” Carlos Martín Ferrera’s “The Pack” and Fernando González Molina’s “The Legacy of the Bones.”
Time Machine awards, for career achievement, went to actors Patrick Wilson (“The Conjuring”), Maribel Verdú (“Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Y tu mama también”) and Javier Botet (“It”), and producer-director Charles Band (“Meridian”).
An Honorary Career Achievement Awards were granted to actor Sam Neill (“Jurassic Park”). The Méliès Career Award went to Italian actress-director Asia Argento (“Misunderstood,” George A. Romero’s “Land of the Dead”).
Reinforcing its commitment to TV shows, in this edition Sitges hosted the second installment of AMC originals “The Terror: Infamy” and docu-series “Eli Roth’s History of Horror” (Season 1).
Movistar + presented Craig Viveiros’ “The War of the Worlds,” a Mammoth Screen production, and offered three new episodes of “Chapter 0,” a Spanish series about big cinema stars in their still-wannabe days, trying to star in films that were never made.
“The Vigil,” closes the 52nd edition of Sitges Festival on Saturday, Oct 12. A co-production between Boulderlight Pictures and Angry Adam Prods, “The Vigil” is sold by CAA.
52ND INTERNATIONAL FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL OF CATALONIA.
OFFICIAL FANTASTIC COMPETITION
“The Platform” (Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, Spain)
Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles (“Bacurau,” Brazil, France)
SPECIAL JURY AWARD
“Adoration” (Fabrice du Welz, Belgium, France)
Imogen Poots (“Vivarium,” Nancy Lorcan Finnegan, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium)
Miles Robbins (“Daniel Isn’t Real,” Adam Egypt Mortimer, U.S. )
Mirrah Foulkes (“Judy & Punch,” Mirrah Foulkes, Australia)
Manu Dacosse (“Adoration”)
Iñaki Madariaga (“The Platform”)
Dan Levy (“I Lost My Body,” Jérémy Clapin, France)
BEST FANTASTIC SHORT
“Polter” (Álvaro Vicario, Spain)
“Achoura” (Talal Selhami, Morocco)
2ND SPECIAL MENTION
Kids in “Adoration” (Thomas Gioria, Fantine Harduin)
NEW VISIONS AWARDS
“Dogs Don’t Wear Pants,” (Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää, Finland, Latvia)
Mattie Do (“The Long Walk,” Laos, Spain, Singapore)
“Lucienne Mange Une Auto” (Geordy Couturiau, France)
“Nina Wu” (Midi Z, Taiwan, Malaysia, Myanmar )
2nd SPECIAL MENTION
“Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway” (Miguel Llansó, Spain, U.K., Ethiopia, Latvia, Romania)
3rd SPECIAL MENTION
“Hail Satan?” (Penny Lane, U.S.)
GRAND AUDIENCE APPRECIATION AWARD
BLOOD WINDOW (LATIN AMERICAN PRODUCTION)
“Brief Story From The Green Planet” (Santiago Loza, Argentina, Germany, Spain, Brazil)
MELIES D’ARGENT BEST FILM
MELIES D’ARGENT BEST SHORT
“Children of Satan,” (Thea Hvistendahl, Norway)
“Huachicolero” (Edgar Nito, Mexico, U.S., U.K.)
JOSE LUIS GUARNER CRITICS’ AWARD
CITIZEN KANE AWARD TO AN UP-AND-COMING DIRECTOR
YOUTH JURY AWARDS
BEST ANIMATION FILM AWARD
“Ride Your Wave” (Masaaki Yuasa, Japan)
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
“The Lonely Orbit” (Frederic Siegel, Benjamin Morard, Switzerland)
BRIGADOON PAUL NASCHY AWARD FOR BEST SHORT
“Tu último día en la Tierra” (Marc Martínez Jordán, Spain)
COCOON BEST FEATURE (VR 360 AWARD)
“Gloomy Eyes” (Jorge Tereso, Fernando Maldonado, Spain)
SGAE AWARDS – NEW CATALAN AUTHORS — SHORTS
“La Mugre” (Pau Bösch, Berta Galvany)
“Cuando acabe el verano” (Marina Espinach)
Agustín Elizalde, Carlos Villafaina (“Gusanos de seda”)
Marina Espinach (“Cuando acabe el verano”)
Juan Luís Pérez (“Gusanos de seda”)