Sitges Festival Day 0: Starting in fifth with ‘The Execution’ by Lado Kvatinya

The funniest festival on planet Earth opens its doors with ‘Mona Lisa and The Blood Moon’ by Ana Lily Armor. Among the first movies we see: the crime thriller ‘The Execution’ and the VHS horror homage of ‘Censor’.

Ready to die in combat. That’s how I feel right now, while I’m typing – always typing, although people basically see me in the YouTube player – these words and in Sitges it’s already getting dark. At this time (8:00 p.m.) the festival’s inaugural gala is being held, where Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon are being screened, an occasion that I have taken the opportunity to seclude myself and type – Carlos Losilla said that one only thinks when he writes – this first text , given that I saw the film in question at the last Venice Film Festival (You can read my opinion of the film here). This year in Sitges I have a double role: chronicler and critic jury. Something wild, I knew it when I accepted it, since Sitges has an insane official competitive section, with 38 feature films and 33 short films, viewings to which we will have to add the films that I am dying to see and that are not in competition: Veneciafrenia by Alex de la Iglesia (how strange that it does not compete), La abuela de Paco Plaza, Prisoners of the Ghostland by Sion Sono, The Green Knight by David Lowery, the series Sleepless Stories and, in short, the handful of restored classics that one always enjoys especially when watching on the big screen. So nine really intense days await me, which I am, at the same time, wanting to devour and wishing not to be devoured. I have been coming to Sitges for twenty-two years in a row to immerse myself in fantastic cinema and I always think the same thing every time I go into the Auditori: of all the festivals in the world, this is the only one where it is impossible to get bored. Because if a movie is lazy, for whatever reason, at least it’s enjoying zombies, vampires, cannibals, wacky Japanese, and mind-fucks on different levels of abstraction, which is always much better than watching a Romanian drama about immigration or the realistic chronicle of the illness and death of an elderly couple. So yes, I come to die in combat, but with a smile on my face.

Venice Film Festival Day 5: Telekinesis, strippers and dubstep with the return of Ana Lily Amirpour and her ‘Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon’

Films. Let’s go with them. We started with The Execution by Russian director Lado Kvataniya (first feature). Thriller with psychokiller and psycho-police, the film follows the investigation, back and forth in a continuous time game, of a serial killer of women. The crimes, grotesque, lag behind the police investigations themselves, where investigators physically and psychologically torture possible murderers, to the point that one ends up confusing who is the wolf and who is the lamb, if not that they are all a handful of wolves sons of his mother. Kvataniya seems to have studied both David Fincher and Russell Mulcahy, both in the making of a visceral crime film and a meandering investigation that never seems to come to fruition (it has something of a desperate search a la Memories of Murder (2003 ) by Bong Joon Ho). The parallel narrative that mixes sex with police beatings, that form of take violence to the extreme, as well as some characters of null morality and a certain cadence towards insanity, makes the film reminiscent of the extreme films of the late Russian director Aleksei Balabanov (which I really like). Definitely, we are in front of one of the great surprises of this festival.

Another competitive feature film debut: Censor by Welsh filmmaker Prano Bailey-Bond. Starring Niamh Algar -the “mother” of Raised by Wolves (2020) -, set in the 70s the film follows in the footsteps of a censor of violent and / or sexual scenes (they usually go together), that is, it takes bestial horror feature films and points out those moments that could hurt public sensibilities. We are in the era of the rise of VHS and direct-to-video, of ‘exploitation’ cinema and of the prohibited circulation of hardcore films; So our censorship has a lot of work to do in a society that does not stop associating violence in the streets with violence in the cinema. The twist it presents Censor It is seen coming from the foreground, following the Cronenbergian maxim of Videodrome (1983), so much brutal image ends up altering the reality of what the protagonist feels and sees, and tries to convert Censor on one of the movies that, in his own unique way, seems to honor, this time uncensored. A rather fun enjoyment that fans of the genre will embrace with love.