Up Next - Sitges Film Festival in Spain & London Film Festival in UK
by Alex Billington
October 5, 2017
The fall film festival season rages on…! Up next are two more film festivals in Europe. I'm stopping by the Sitges Film Festival in Spain, a prestigious genre/horror festival celebrating its 50th year. And then I'm heading up to London to catch the second half of the London Film Festival, celebrating its 64th year. Both festivals kick off this week and continue through next week for a total of 10 days (I love that festivals continue to run for 10 days, it's always invigorating to stay and watch films for that long). This is my first time attending both festivals, which makes me anxious but it's also exciting. Attending a film festival for the first time is always daunting, but once I figure everything out and settle in for screenings, all is well again.
Not many people I've spoken to have heard of the Sitges Film Festival. It's essentially the sister festival to Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. They both focus on "genre" films, ranging from horror to sci-fi to thrillers to action and everything else inbetween. At Sitges this year, they're highlighting Guillermo del Toro with The Shape of Water (which I already saw at Venice), and will also have gala screenings of David Lower's A Ghost Story (which I saw at Sundance), S. Craig Zahler's Brawl in Cell Block 99 (which I saw at Venice), Bong Joon-ho's Okja (which I saw at Cannes), Yorgos Lanthimos' The Killing of a Sacred Deer (which I saw at Cannes), Christopher Landon's Happy Death Day, David F. Sandberg's Annabelle Creation, & many others.
I'm most looking forward to seeing The Endless, Anna and the Apocalypse, Thelma, and Mayhem in Sitges, and hopefully discovering a few other gems. This town is beautiful - it's right on the beach, about 45 mins (by train) south of Barcelona in Spain/Catalonia. It reminds me of Cannes, a small town with plenty of charm, lots of good food, and great cinemas all over. I'm just about to head to my first screening and then plan the rest of my time here, before catching a flight up to London to continue at a different festival. Sitges seems like one of those hidden gems that I don't want to tell people about because it's so beautiful, and if it gets overrun it won't be as special, but now it seems about perfect. So far, so good. Ready to start watching.
At the London Film Festival, I'm excited to catch a bunch of new films: Linklater's Last Flag Flying, The Rider, Beyond the Clouds, The Breadwinner, Five Fingers for Marseilles, Gemini, Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, and some documentaries including Mountain, Jane, Ex Libris, and Kingdom of Us. London has a much bigger and diverse selection, including some horror/genre films, along with tons of documentaries and dramas and thrillers. I'm planning to dive in and see as much as I can during the 7 days I'm up in London for this festival, and will report back on what's good (and not good). You can find the full line-up for the London Film Festival here, + the line-up for the Sitges Film Festival here.
I've said it many times but I'll say it again: I love film festivals so much. Honestly, I'm addicted to them. And this year has been especially exciting because I've taken the opportunity to explore and attend more film festivals that I have never been to before - touring all over Europe just to see films at the best festivals the world has to offer. It's a life I genuinely love, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Traveling to stunningly beautiful cities, watching films all day, discussing cinema all night, it's what I live for and what makes me happy each and every year. I try my best to capture this unique experience in photos (via my Instagram @abillington) and on Twitter (via @firstshowing) as well as with blog posts and reviews here on the website.
So stick around for the coverage, reviews, and more as the fall festival season continues. Here's to cinema.