“The Hour of the Sorcerer,” “Zombie Meteor” and “Bloody Mary” feature among a powerful lineup of 16 titles at the 2022 Sitges Fanpitch, an anticipated pitching event for sci-fi, fantastic and horror features and series.
Sitges Fanpitch runs Oct. 10-13 at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, a Mecca for fandom worldwide.
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The pitching session comes as genre is building for independents as one of the two pillars of a residual theatrical film business and sci-fi and fantasy remain a top original production choice on Netflix and other platforms.
Sitges Fanpitch frames emerging talent. Only five are not first-time directors, most notably Argentina’s Cristian Ponce, behind “Sorcerer,” whose “History of the Occult” was the highest-rated horror title for Letterboxd’s 2021 Year in Review.
Genre is ever more broadening its artistic options. Fanpitch’s sci-fi offer, for example, take in critiques of stereotypes of ableism (“Newfall”) and the social wealth gap (“Reboot”), sci-fi, gothic and noir (“The Next Testament”), a coming of age survival thriller (“Fingernail”) and even, in a bold mash-up, sci-fi and zombies, a rare combination (“Zombie Meteor”).
Notable titles, from women and men directors alike, have a strong feminist slant. Spaniard Joseph Díaz’s “Bloody Mary,” for instance, sees Mary beaten to death by a cult leader, then possessed by the vengeful spirit of ancestor Helena, burnt at the stake for witchcraft.
Another buzz title, “Upiro,” an 18th century monastery thriller from rated Spanish directed Oscar Martín (“Amigo”), gives “an opportunity to show the social context of this era and explain why many women were sent to convents against their will,” said Martín.
“Lucid,” coming off good word at Fantasia’s Frontières Co-Production Market, sees a 1994 art school riot grrrr battle to find her true (and a rather monstrous) self.
XYZ Films, Yellow Veil Pictures and Blue Underground, among many others, have confirmed attendance.
Feature film winners receive travel grants to a choice of key genre markets – Fantasia’s Frontières, Bucheon’s NAFF and Blood Window at Ventana Sur. Selected projects in the TV series category will be able to attend the Showrunners LAB seminar and receive individual mentoring from Ruth García, Federico Durán Amorocho and Björn Hylnur Haraldsson. The winner receives a €2,500 ($2,500) prize for series development.
Sitges Fanpitch winners, both the guests and four winners will be invited to It’s Bloody Green, a training event on sustainable, ecological and inclusive film production, running Oct. 11-12 at the Festival.
The 2022 Sitges Fanpitch Lineup
“Bloody Mary,” (Joseph Díaz, Spain)
Building on his short, ”The 6 Relics of Helena Mason,” “Bloody Mary” “shows us that trauma travels through generations until someone is strong enough to take all that pain and heal it,” Diáz told Variety. “The film deals with very primal themes like toxic relationships, gender violence, cults and control and ultimately revenge and like the poster line says: Revenge always needs blood,” he added.
“Fingernail,” (“Tziporen,” Boaz Armoni, Israel)
Produced by Yoav Roeh and Aurit Zamir at Tel Aviv’s Gum Films, set in a world where Simulacras, unkillable, untraceable monsters who look exactly like humans, have almost wiped out mankind. Sheltering in a forest, Ruby (44), Ben (15) trap any intruder, burying them alive. Sometimes people can be monsters,” commented Armoni (“The Electrifiers”).
“Krampusnacht,” (Peter Hengl, Austria)
Set at Austria’s Krampus Night, where long men dress up as a Krampus first satyr, a brother and sister feeler more attracted to the mysterious leader of a Krampus group. “Krampusnacht” is about the toxic masculinity that permeates a lot of tradition and culture, a story about accepting and transforming into your darkest desires,” says Hengl. Austria’s Capra Film produces, as on “Newfall.” Dread Central hailed Hengl’s “Family Dinner” as a “stunning debut.”
“Lucid,” (Deanna Milligan, Ramsey Fendall, Canada)
A riot grrrr at a 1994 art school takes a lucid dreaming elixir which materializes her inner demons as monsters which she has to battle one by one. Produced by Stacey Kerr at Canada’s Sublunar Films, “Our approach is hyper visual and highly stylized, fuelled by colorfully riotous giallo celluloid expressionism, teenage angst, a kinetic stream-of-consciousness editing style, ASMR-inspired sound design and a killer soundtrack with Riot Grrrl inspired tunes,” said directors Milligan and Kerr).
“The Next Testament,” (“El Futuro Testamento,” Velasco Broca, Spain)
From Broca, whose short, “Alegrías riojanas,” plays Austin’s Fantastic Fest and Sitges, a fantasy-laced time-traveling debut. In 1981, two weeks after a military coup in Spain, the chorus of a famous song mysteriously disappears from the master and from all copies sold. Its singer must travel to the past to recover it. Project “updates and mixes three of the most vibrant genres of the ‘40s and ‘50s: the noir, gothic terror and science-fiction,” Broca told Variety.
“Rain Catcher,” (Michele Fiascaris, U.K.)
A lonely Instagrammer photographer with a ken for intimate sneak shots gets a taste of his own medicine when he’s stalked by a voyeur. The short won a 2020 Sitges Silver Meliès. The feature, described by Fiascaris as an “intense, nail-biting thriller” and “story of revenge and redemption,” is produced by co-writer Filippo Polesel at Yellow Pill, London.
“Zombie Meteor,” (José Luis Farias, Alfonso Fulgencio, Spain)
An animated feature splatter fest come disaster movie as a meteor packed by living dead hits the International Space Station. The prequel short bows at this month’s Austin Fantastic Fest. Directed by Farias and Fulgencio, founders of animation producer-event organizer Paramotion Films, behind the Quirino Awards and Weird Market.
“Ataxia,” (“Αταξία,” Christina Tryphonos, Cyprus)
“Cyprus; on the surface, the idyllic tourist destination, but in truth, a haven of crime and corruption,” the synopsis states. Enter Zoe, Makis and Foivos. A chance meeting and a rescue they pull off together stirs their vigilantism, and their desire to halt Cyprus decline. From Andreas Phylatou at Black Lemon and Tryphonos, an experienced TV director (“Santa Yolanda”), who promises action, crime, drama and a dose of black comedy.
“System Failure,” (“Fallo de Sistema,” Silvia Conesa, Spain)
Conceived as a series/feature, “everyday stories that alternate thriller, dark comedy and horror, with “characters will be pushed to the limit by the system, crossing the thin line between the real and the fantastic,” Conesa told Variety. Writer-director of shorts “Evströnger” (Morbido), “Polvotron 500” (L.A. Shorts) and “Hamelin” (London Sci-Fi), she is currently looking to attach a producer, she added.
“Newfall,” (Stefano Nurra, Austria)
From Lola Basara, Marc Schlegel and Peter Hengl at Austria’s Capra Film. In the derelict town of Newfall, Anna, a young wheelchair user with muscular dystrophy, unearths the local, abandoned workhouse’s folklore: it is haunted by a dark spirit able to cure the invalids, the synopsis runs. “Newfall is a modern, emotionally-driven horror series that explores the stereotypes of ableism as Anna struggles with a malevolent entity hellbent on convincing her she needs to be fixed,” says Nurra.
“Nycto,” (Itziar Martínez, U.S.)
Created and written by Itziar Martínez, In Miami, a tenacious photojournalist searching for her sister, victim of a human trafficking ring, is forced to become a key player in a conspiracy involving angelic and demonic forces in order to stop the apocalypse. Barroeta is first attached director. A “strong female lead and diverse ensemble cast” exploring “the power of music and themes of self discovery, modern misogyny, and the meaning of evil,” Martínez told Variety.
“Super-Over,” (“Superada,” Ainhoa Menéndez, Spain)
“A family comedy with a pregnant superheroine,” said Menéndez,” Clara hides from Luis her identity as Electric Woman, the world’s only women super-heroin. When she gets pregnant, she confronts physical and emotional changes while still having to save the world. From production house Elamedia Estudios, producer Nuria Landete and director Ainhoa Menéndez, the same team behind ECAM Incubator title “In The Flesh.”
Sitges Fanpitch Guests
“The Hour of the Sorcerer,” (“La hora de los brujos,” Cristián Ponce, Argentina)
From Ponce, one of Latin America’s most sought-after creators after “The Kirlian Frequency” and “History of the Occult”: Robbers break into a bank in the Argentine sticks, their goal, in a personal deposit box, a supernatural tool to escape from reality. “Our approach originates from a combination of haunted houses and ghost stories in the style of M.R. James, and crime movies in line with 1970’s New Hollywood, as ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ and ‘The French Connection,’ ” Ponce said. Tangram Cine; En el Reino Cine produce.
“Upiro,” (Oscar Martín, Spain)
Based on Spain’s first case of vampirism documented by the Catholic Church, in Spain, 1755, a young woman is sent to a cloistered monastery where several novices suffer a strange blood disease. Everything seems to point to an ancient tale that the new Enlightenment society would rather keep out of sight: A bloodthirsty upire – Slavic for vampire – seems to have infiltrated the monastery. Produced by Elena Muñoz at El Ojo Mecánico, a big triple winner at Ventana Sur’s 2021 Blood Window.
“Reboot,” (Kim Sooyoung, South Korea)
“A crime thriller created by obsession and disparity” and “love story of a new mankind in a new era,” said producer Kim Dong Hwan at Owl Productions. In the future, a Reborn Medical Center (RMC) extends the human lifespan to 150 years and facilitates gender change. A Sitges Fanpitch prize winner at July’s BiFan NAFF Project Market.
“A Boy-Shaped Void,” (Lucas Amann)
A Sitges Fanpitch prize winner at the Frontières Co-Production Market in July, with an otherworldly queer virus infecting a gay high schooler after his hookup with an older man, uniting their bodies. Written-directed by Lucas Amann, behind “Peopling” with over 2.3 million subs on Alter. Producing: Daniel Brandt, Dane Eckerle via Bad Grey (“I Love My Dad”), and Lee Stobby (“Sister Aimee”) at new banner 2B Cont’d. Two-time Academy Award nominee Arjen Tuiten (“Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil,” “Wonder”) attached for special effects makeup. “This is the story of a boy who finds the strength and self-compassion to expel his demons,” Amann said.
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