'Requiem' wins Sitges' top prize

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SITGES, Spain -- Hans-Christian Schmid's "Requiem" won Sitges' International Film Festival of Catalonia's top prize for best film Saturday as German films depicting horrific but true tales triumphed in the genre festival.

Sandra Huller took the best actress nod for her role in "Requiem" as a young woman who died of exhaustion and malnutrition during an exorcism procedure.

Germany's Martin Weisz received the best director prize for his "Grimm Love Story," showing the cannibalistic date between two men who arranged to meet via the Internet. The screening in Sitges made headlines thanks to audience members fainting and vomiting during the film's more graphic sequences.

The films' two actors Thomas Krestchmann and Thomas Huber shared the acting award for their realistic portrayals, while Jonathan Sela snagged best photography for his work.

The jury's decision to award two directorial debuts based on true stories rather than inventions from genre's old guard was applauded by festival attendees.

"The jury's decision shows that fantasy film has come of age and is now allowed to invade terrain that used to be dominated by reality," festival director Angel Sala said Saturday.

Jose Dante's "Homecoming" received a special jury prize and earned Sam Hamm the best screenplay award.

This year's festival boasted a handsome list of directors on hand for what has become an international must for genre filmmakers. Among others present were Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro Amenabar, Howard Berger, director and writer Alejandro Jodorowsky, Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronofsky, Paul Verhoeven, Brad Anderson and Japan's Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

The Sitges festival, held on Spain's Mediterranean coast just south of Barcelona from Oct. 6-15, reported an increase in ticket sales over the previous year and promised to pull all the stops next year for its 40th edition.

In a press conference held on the festival's last day, Sala said the 2007 edition will include classics of the fantasy genre, like Ridley Schott's "Blade Runner," Steven Spielberg's "E.T" and John Carpenter's "The Thing."
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