Ultra Swank - Retro Adventures

Ultra Swank Goes to the Sitges Film Festival

Written by Christopher • October 24th, 2014
Ultra Swank Goes to the Sitges Film Festival

Welcome to the 2014 edition of the Sitges Film Festival — Photo by Christopher, Ultra Swank

“Roll out the red carpet, spotlight on a dream, hip horary for Hollywood where stars are born to glitter and gleam.” Yes, glitter, glam, rubbing shoulders with stars and Champagne flowing like wine. Or so you’d think a film festival would be wouldn’t you? Well, this is not Los Angles, this is not London, this is not Cannes. Follow Ultra Swank as we head over to the Sitges Film Festival.

The festival is held annually since 1967 in Sitges. A small beach town, some 30 minutes south of Barcelona, Spain, mostly famous for its many beaches, gay friendly atmosphere and amazing sunsets. Oh, and they are damn proud not to be Cannes.

So proud that they remind us of that in the ident/commercial that plays before every movie. In fact, director Joe Dante (Gremlins, Matinee, Burying the Ex etc.) who has been a frequent guest at the festival noted recently that “…it’s amazing how little things has changed”.

Good or bad? I guess if nothing else, it’s comfy. Knowing that things will remain, year after year.

The Sitges Film festival is not targeted at glamor pusses or autograph hunters. This festival is instead probably the best outlet in the world for fanboys and fangirls who are into fantasy, horror, sci-fi, animation, b-movies, c-movies and general gore. And there’s is a lot of it all.

Obtaining access

First’s first. How do you get in? You can attend the festival as a visitor, volunteer, industry professional or as press. Me being the latter. For this film festival there were two levels of press. Gold for high circulation magazines and tv channels and green for less known publications and bloggers (moi). Not sure about the actual difference between the two except possibly how easy you get into the more popular screenings not having a actual ticket. Although the press pass will give you access to a lot of movies at the festival, many of the more obscure or popular screenings has to be reserved at 7 am the previous day using a not so well working (read terrible) online reservation system.

All the press activities and (most) movies are centered around the Meliá Hotel, a five star hotel right next to the marina with a 1,100 seat state-of-the-art theatre and connecting conference area. This is also where the red carpet is located and where anyone who’s even remotely famous will be seen.

Instead of writing a summary of every movie I managed to see (or all the ones I missed out on). I will focus on the two that stood out as Ultra Swank friendly and of interest to you; La French and William Friedkin’s Sorcerer.

La French

La French is the latest movie from director Cédric Jimenez, starring Jean Dujardin of The Artist, OSS 117 and Monuments Men fame. The movie takes place in Marseille around 1975 and follows a police magistrate that spends years trying to take down one of the country’s most powerful drug rings and its trafficking to New York City. Wait a minute you say, this sounds like you are describing the plot for The French Connection? Indeed, there are similarities. I would argue that this movie continues right after The French Connection left off and follows the law enforcement from the other side of the pond.

Jean Dujardin, complete with sideburns and all, plays a convincing obsessed magistrate. The footage is superb and looks like it was shot at the end of the 1970s with washed out colors and some fine grain. Even our short visit to New York looks like the crew hopped into a time machine, shot the scenes and returned back again. Add some French 1960s and 1970s pop music and the illusion is complete.

Watch the trailer below and turn on subtitles if you don’t Parlez-vous français.


Sorcerer, regarded as a cult classic by many (but not to be confused about a movie about a Magician). The movie follows four men with different criminal backgrounds from all corners of the globe whose paths cross in the South American jungle and they end up risking their lives transporting gallons of nitroglycerin across very dangerous roads in two trucks named “Sorcerer” and “Lazaro”, hoping to earn enough money to be able to pay for their way out of the country. That is, if they make it alive to their destination.

The movie features an amazing synthesized score by German electronic music pioneers Tangerine Dream that is on-par with the movie in quality, especially the theme song sends chills down the spine. We watched the restored version that has been cleaned up, color corrected and with a more dynamic sound mix. Supervised and approved by Mr. Friedkin himself. The end result looked and sounded amazing up on the silver screen. This is how this movie was meant to be experienced.

Watch the trailer below.


You would think that watching movies in a air conditioned theatre all day wouldn’t be a challenging experience. On the contrary. The first press screening is usually around 8 am and they go on well into the afternoon with only short breaks in between. If you miss a movie, you might not get another chance. And if you also have interviews scheduled, cover some press conferences and photo calls – there’s no time left for anything else. Forget about partying or any night activities, other than watching more movies. That’s right. There’s also plenty of “midnight marathons”. A bunch of movies played back to back lasting 300 or 400 minutes together.

Sleep is for suckers.

But when all is said and done. The final product, the type of movies and unique location is well worth it all and something that can only be lived, experienced, and re-experienced in Sitges.

Above: The red carpet at the Meliá Hotel — Photo by Christopher, Ultra Swank

Above: The auditorium at Meliá Sitges with over 1,100 seats — Photo by Christopher, Ultra Swank

Above: Actor Brad Moore with director Mo Ali presenting “Montana” — Photo by Christopher, Ultra Swank

Above: A typical press conference — Photo by Christopher, Ultra Swank

Above: Director Cédric Jimenez introducing “La French” — Photo by Christopher, Ultra Swank

Above: Director Cédric Jimenez introducing “La French” — Photo by Christopher, Ultra Swank

Above: Over-excited fans waiting in line for the next screening — Photo by Christopher, Ultra Swank

Above: Sitges by night — Photo by Christopher, Ultra Swank

Above: Sorcerer

Above: Sorcerer


A Swedish expatriate and founder of Ultra Swank. Chris loves showcasing his passion for mid-century design, defunct airlines, Disneyland and modernist architecture. He's also renowned as a connoisseur of easy-listening music from the 60s and 70s.

Find out more about Christopher

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