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Saturday 25th of November 2017
Julia Davis 1306 30th of May 2013 by editor 30th of May 2013
From ghosts and gore to Game of Thrones

If you’re in the mood for a movie marathon that keeps you on the edge of your seat, the first Noctura Film Festival takes place this month. Julia Davis meets festival director Luis Rosales to find out about the horror and sci-fi ahead

"If there’s anything that defines ‘cine fantástico’,” says Luis Rosales, commenting on the theme of the Nocturna Festival, “it’s imagination. That’s what has made humans progress. Major advances, both technological and narrative, have always been marked by fantasy.” Imagination is quite an apt description, as the Nocturna Festival is set to showcase a tremendous variety of creative short and full-length films—some are gory, some are funny, and some involve Russian zombies that emerge from ice storms in the middle of July.
     As president and CEO of Scifiworld Entertainment, Rosales has dedicated his professional life to the promotion of cine fantástico. It all started when his parents forbade him from watching a Dracula movie, starring Christopher Lee. They sent Luis off to bed, but he sneaked back and peaked through a crack in the living room door to view the film. “I still remember the scene when Dracula goes down onto the balcony to bite his next victim,” he recalls. “I ran to my bed and hid under the covers! Of course, I had nightmares.” Years later, he met Lee face-to-face and relayed the story. “I told him over a cup of tea at his house. The whole thing had come full circle,” he grins.
Titles and trends
The festival is set to open with Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, a 2012 Canadian-French horror movie—the sequel to Silent Hill—which follows a teenager who discovers that her presumed identity is false and is then drawn into a strange and terrifying alternate dimension. It’s an odd mix of science fiction and horror that seems to characterise the ‘fantastic’ genre.
    Indeed, the full programme includes a cornucopia of curious movies, with tempting titles such as Million Dollar Crocodile (a Chinese production that tells of a huge crocodile that swallows an enormous sum of money), Jug Face (in which a mysterious creature lurks down a well), Stitches (subtitled ‘Bad Clown’), and Toad Road (how drugs lead to a path with an urban legend attached). On the other hand, there are also supremely classic sounding films, including Under the Bed (a tale about tackling a monster you-know-where), Gallowwalkers (Wesley Snipes as a gunman whose bullets have a remarkable side effect), and A Little Bit Zombie (perhaps the first zombie/marriage movie). The line-up clearly reflects some of the genre’s hottest trends. Apparently, voyeurism is particularly de moda, and as a result there are several films that centre on the terrifying idea of having a stranger in your home. Of course, as Rosales notes, “zombies are always fashionable.” Vampires, perhaps, are so last season.  
Organisation and invitations
Natalie Dormer in Game of Thrones Organising the festival was quite a challenge. “As a new festival, it was extremely difficult,” says Rosales. “Everybody always thinks of Sitges [Festival Internacional de Cine Fantástico] as their first option.” More than 400 short films and 200 movies had to be watched before selecting the final schedule. Of course, this chore had its perks, not least the opportunity to preview excellent international films that haven’t yet been released in Spain.
    Nocturna is also capitalising on the popularity of the HBO fantasy-drama series Game of Thrones. Fans can look forward to a special guest appearance by British actress Natalie Dormer, a regular on the hit show in which she plays the lovely and shrewd Margaery Tyrell. Dormer will offer an exclusive preview of the series’ latest episode—“The Rains of Cashmere”—before it is released in Spain.
    American director/writer Joe Dante will also make an appearance. Dante is known for films that mix fantasy with comedy, such as Gremlins (1984), and his other noteworthy titles include The Howling, Matinee, Small Soldiers, and Innerspace with Steven Spielberg. Other invitees include Michael J Basset, Mick Garris, and Samuel Hadida. Basset is an English screenwriter and director whose work includes the 2002 cult classic Deathwatch, whilst Garris is an American director best known for film adaptations of Stephen King novels, as well as being the creator of the Showtime series Masters of Horror. Hadida, who was born in Morocco and attended university in France, co-founded the company Metropolitan Filexport, a successful distributor of films in the French-speaking world. He also founded Davis Films, which has produced international projects such as True Romance, written by Quentin Tarantino.
Competitive and original
There will also be a film competition with four categories—Official Fantastic, encompassing all variants of the genre, Noctura Dark, to honour especially innovative, boundary-breaking films, a short film category, and Noctura Madness, which highlights movies defined by a large quantity of violence and dark humour. Strangely, this paradoxical juxtaposition is the holy grail of fantastic-style comedy. “Great titles like Young Frankenstein, Shaun of the Dead, Evil Dead or Return of the Living Dead, among many others, managed to establish this connection,” explains Rosales.
     The work of the Spanish film industry is particularly highlighted. “We’ve tried to present all the Spanish films that were available, since we want this to be the main focus of the festival,” Rosales smiles. However, viewers can also look forward to a number of American films, almost all of which will be shown in their original version. “We believe that this is how movies should be,” he continues. “If not, how can you appreciate the cast’s interpretation?” It’s a very good point: anyone who’s watched the Spanish version of Star Wars knows that Darth Vader just isn’t the same when you dub James Earl Jones. 
    Other objectives are to showcase titles that can’t be found in Spanish cinemas, and to offer cinemagoers a form of escapism. “In these times that are difficult for everyone, it offers a way to get away from reality,” Rosales concludes. “We want the spectators who come to the festival to forget about their troubles and have fun. It sounds counterintuitive, but perhaps a few hours submerged in a weirder world than our own—full of axe murderers, zombie clowns, and parallel universes—might offer a much-needed break.”

The Nocturna Film Festival takes place at the Cine Palafox (C/Luchana 15, Metro: Bilbao), from 3-9 June. Tickets are €7.50 for the opening and closing ceremonies, and €6.50 for all other movies. Superfans can also buy 5 tickets for €27.50 or 10 for €50. A pre-Nocturna event runs during the weekend of 1 & 2 June. See www.nocturnafilmfestival.com

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