Sitges: Horror and Animation in Barcelona
I woke up as the plane descended over the beautiful Barcelona Harbor. After a 20-minute chauffeured ride south, along the Mediterranean Coast, I arrived at Sitges: a quaint, sun-drenched, white-stuccoed fishing village, which is now a European gay resort town. As I entered the Gran Sitges Hotel, headquarters for the film festival, I saw, basking by the pool, that great Canadian animator, Marv Newland. Being a judge, he said, only required two hours a day of his time, which explained why he was in such a tropical mind-set. After four hours of catch-up sleep, I joined Marv and his lovely companion Marci, for a tour of the tapas restaurants in town.
The Sitges Sci-fi and Fantasy Film Festival is 30 years-old. Although it's in Spain, the people of Sitges consider themselves to belong to a region called Catalunya, which has its own language and is quite independent. I attended the festival two years ago and met Robert Wise (The Sound of Music, The Day the Earth Stood Still), Ray Harryhausen and the Brothers Quay. Tonight's feature was Lawn Dogs by John Duigan (Sirens, Flirting): a nice, suburban, magic, Gothic story starring Christopher McDonald which will be released in a couple of months.
My radio inexplicably began blaring at noon and woke me up. The hotel sent a repairman, but it was a beautiful day and I wanted to explore the harbor and beach. I met a number of filmmakers and actors for an excellent seafood lunch at the hotel restaurant. Then, I went swimming with a group from New Zealand and Australia and checked out the naked bodies. Spain has a much more liberated concept of nudity than the U.S. Thank god!
Sitges has a wonderful animation section, organized by Angel Sala and Carolina Lopez Cabrillo. The evening's highlights were: Coatimundi by Great Britain's Danny Capozzi, which is a wonderful puppet animation about a boy and a dog, with a very surreal look; Shock by Zlatin Radev of Bulgaria, which features an excellent use of live-action and animation fused into a frantic love battle between 2-D and 3-D; DNA, a masterly pencil animation about evolution, by Giorgio Valentini of Italy who worked on many Bozzetto films; Ferrailks by Laurent Pouvant of France, which depicts nuts, bolts and gears fighting off the intrusion of nature; and Supernova Unleaded, a film by Belgium's Manu Roig which uses great character design and superb colors in a 3D animated story of an interplanetary gas station.
Another animated film being screened was the excellent feature from Turner Feature Animation, Cats Don't Dance by Mark Dindal. I saw this witty film in the brief two days it appeared in theaters in the U.S. and was disappointed with the lack of publicity and commitment to its release.
I rushed to the Prado Theatre for the screening of my live-action comedy Guns on the Clackamas. It was a full house, I think due to my appearances on MTV. The crowd loved it and afterwards, I sold my videos and Sleazy Cartoons books. (Hey, I've got to finance my films somehow!)