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U.S. genre dominates Sitges


SITGES– Thriller “The Invitation” took best picture at the 48th Sitges Film Festival on Saturday. Helmed by Karyn Kusama, “Invitation” explores the near sub-genre consisting of a friends’ party that emotionally and dramaticallyheads out of control. “Invitation” opened 2015’s SXSW Fest and received from Variety reviewer Justin Chang the thumbs up of being “teasingly effective.”


Starring Logan Marshall-Green and Emayatzy Corinealdi, “Invitation” is penned by Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi and is sold internationally by Austin-based Drafthouse Films.


Movie marks Brooklyn -born Kusama’s most acclaimed outing since her debut “Girlfight,” which nabbed Grand Jury and Best Director in Sundance 2000.


First-timer S. Craig Zhaler won director for “Bone Tomahawk,” a Wild West horror western following four men trying to rescue captives menaced by cannibals. Film stars Kurt Russell, Bob Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment – formerly Image Ent. –has Canada and U.S. rights of this humorous western satire echoing John Ford’s “The Searchers.” “Bone” also took the Jose Luis Guarner Critics Award.


U.S. productions won five of the main kudos, which could be seen as symptomatic of the vitality of the sector at the same time as foreign production surges have either failed to find a home audience – France’s extreme genre – or be decimated by economic crisis, the case of Spain. Sometimes working talent link-ups with international – the case of XYZ, for instance, one of the companies behind “Invitation”, genre production looks alive and well in the U.S. “Indie U.S. production muscle is growing enormously. Perhaps we should take note of what there is being done,” said fest director Angel Sala at the prizes conference press.


Catalan/Spanish genre fare won minor prizes but sector still shows in its contained productions the impact of a long downturn. Just two pics were included at competition. South Korea, for its part, received only a kudo for Asia Focus Best Movie, for Ryoo Seung-wan’s “Veteran.”


Actress kudo went to Pili Grogne for the Belgium, Luxembourg, France co-production “The Brand New Testament,” directed by Jaco van Dormael (“Toto the Hero”). Young actress Grogne (Fabrice Du Welz’s “Alleluia”) plays a shy daughter role, intimidated by her father’s who has a temper, and is God, living in Brussels and relieving His boredom with his laptop.


Joel Edgerton, an actor (“The Great Gatsby”), writer and director took the best actor nod for his perf in “The Gift” delivering his “own superbly creepy performance, which could easily have evolved into ghoulish revenge-of-the-nerd caricature, but instead turns Gordo into a simultaneously pitiable and unsettling figure” –according to Variety’s reviewer Peter Debruge.


Offering a sprawling panorama of 169 movies in all sections, the Sitges Fest sold this year 76,336 tickets, up a spectacular 39% vs. 2014’s 55,000 tickets), thanks in part to adding one new screen.


The official lineup comprised 37 movies, a challenge for jurors and journalists alike.


The 48th Sitges Festival runs Oct. 9-18.


And the winners are:



“The Invitation,” (Karyn Kusama, U.S.)


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