Where? Sitges – a short train journey south of Barcelona, 5€
When? October 2014
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.
In 2013, The War of the Worlds was revived at the Sitges festival as 2013 marked two anniversaries connected to the classic science novel by H. G. Wells. The festival will celebrated both historic events and hosted a commemorative exhibition where visitors found themselves in a late 1930s American home in the aftermath of a supposed alien invasion.
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 Sitges Film Festival is divided into various sections, each bringing something different to the table.
‘Official Fantastic’ section
This is the festival’s official selection and the flagship category which offers both commercial and amateur works, spanning a number of genres including science fiction, fantasy innovation, horror and thrillers. The focus is on feature-length films but some short films with a run time of under than 30 minutes are also shown. The films come from all nationalities but are unreleased in Spain. Fantastic is the word with thrillers, action movies, adventure films and black comedies.
- Big Bad Wolves – an Israeli thriller with a revenge-minded father and a vigilante cop as the protagonists, seeking their own brand of justice on an alleged serial killer. This film has racked up some cracking reviews.
- Byzantium – two decades after Interview with the Vampire, Neil Jordan returns to vampire movies.
Midnight X-treme Section
A selection of the best independent horror movies that have a chance at winning the Midnight X-treme award…we want that title!
- Big Ass Spider – you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to guess what this film is about. The suspect in question escapes from a military lab, spreading chaos around the city of Los Angeles.
Focus Àsia Section
This does what it says on the tin… it’s all about Asian production.
‘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.
- Blackfish – this mesmerising psychological thriller with a killer whale at its centre has been named the strongest documentary of recent years.
- Closed Curtain – an Iranian drama centred on a man, his dog, a young woman and a filmmaker in a house by the Caspian Sea. They are all wanted and are all searching for one another.
Alternative screenings of the weirdest, most radical fantasy cult-movies.
2013 menos 1 – a group of friends throw a party coinciding with the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar. After midnight, the catastrophe begins.
Sitges Family Section
These films hold off the gore just a tad so that kids won’t be left scarred for life!
A macabre masquerade – the Sitges Zombie Walk
One of the highlights of the festival is the Sitges Zombie Walk, which takes place on Saturday 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!