Where? Sitges – a short train journey south of Barcelona, 5€
When? Thursday 4 to Sunday 14 October 2012
Visit Sitges on any normal day of the year and you’ll be struck by its pretty whitewashed houses, colourful beaches and meandering cobbled streets. But for one week in October this quaint Mediterranean town takes on a surreal role as the host to the number one fantasy and horror film festival in the world.
The Sitges Film Festival, or to give it its full Catalan title, the International Festival of Fantastic Cinema, was given its first airing back in 1967. It’s been a rip-roaring success ever since, attracting the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Jodie Foster, Jon Voight and Sir Anthony Hopkins, to name a few. This year’s event will have a particular focus on the theme of the Apocalypse and the increasing use of camera phones to record live footage.
Sights, camera, action
It’s not just the hundreds of film screenings and exhibitions that draw cinema fans to Sitges in October (or even the warm sea water). Film buffs also flock here to mingle with the stars – getting up close and personal with the actors, directors and producers, as well as discovering the latest trends in the genre.
The 45th Sitges festival will pay tribute to one of its regular attendees, Quentin Tarantino, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Reservoir Dogs, for which he won Best Direction and Best Screenplay in 1992. The festival will hold a retrospective look at Tarantino’s work and the life that he has breathed back into so-called ‘cult cinema.’
Grand Honorary Award
Irish director Neil Jordan will recieve this year’s Grand Honorary Award. Jordan has made many impressive films about Ireland and The Troubles but will recieve the Sitges award for his work on more fantastical films such as The Company of Wolves, High Spirits, Interview with the Vampire and In Dreams.
The End of The World
It just wouldn’t be the Sitges Film Festival without a bold theme and this year doesn’t disappoint. Inspired – or uninspired – by the economic crisis and Mayan predictions of the world ending in 2012, the organisers will celebrate all things apocalypse with some of the freshest post-apocalypse films around, as well as some forgotten hidden gems.
Douglas Aarniokosk’s The Day, a film about five people fighting for their lives in a post-apocalyptic future, will be the headliner in this category, with Korean movie Doomsday Book from Kim Jee-wong and Yim Pil-Sung also contributing to the doomsday mood.
‘Official Fantastic’ Section
This flagship category offers both commercial and amateur works, with some of the highlights including the return of 2008 winner Jennifer Lynch with horror movie Chained and David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, starring Robert Pattinson.
‘Nuevas Visiones’ (new visions) section
Dedicated to discovering and promoting some of cinema’s slightly more radical and experimental talent, this section is growing in popularity with every year. There are plenty of fictional pieces to see, with Sitges legends Guy Maddin and Takashi Miike providing some of the best fictional offerings. Some thought-provoking documentaries are also on the programme.
A macabre masquerade – the Sitges Zombie Walk
One of the highlights of the festival is the Sitges Zombie Walk, which takes place on the second Friday of each festival – that’s Friday 12 October this year. There’s no better way to spend an evening with the living dead. And it’s free! Zombie enthusiasts head from Sitges’ Edifici Miramar down towards the beach, scaring bemused locals along the way. A huge open-air party is organised on the beach, together with a concert. Check out the video to get a taste of the action.
Ticket info can be found on the official website. The policy for previous years has been that if you already have your ticket you will have to exchange it for an official ticket at one of the box offices at the main venue Hotel Meliá Sitges.
How to get there
BCN (Sants) – Sitges: First train 05:40 / Last train 00:06
Sitges – BCN (Sants): First train 04:49 / Last train 22:26
For more information see www.renfe.es.
The journey is around 45 minutes, and a ticket will be under 10 euros.
On the C-32 highway you can get off at exit 29 ‘Sant Pere de Ribes’ or exit 30 ‘Sitges Centre’.
Departures from Oasis Area. Check timetables and prices with the Monbús company (0034) 93 893 70 60 / www.monbus.cat.
Venues for the festival
• Hotel Meliá Sitges – home to the main movie theatre, hunt down and mingle with the actors in its bar.
• Auditori – Houses the largest movie screen in the Mediterranean – where the opening and closing ceremony will take place.
• Cine El Retiro – will be holding around 3-5 screenings per day during the festival.
• Cine Prado – host for several different sections of the festival.
• The Escorxador Building – the festival’s offices.
Are you going to the Sitges Film Festival this year? We’ll be there – look out for us in our best zombie guises!