Finnish director Jalmari Helander’s horror/thriller Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale has picked up the best film and director prizes in the main official competition at Sitges genre film festival today (Saturday), sweeping aside strong competition from local and Asian titles.

Helander’s feature is an extension of his award winning shorts Rare Exports Inc and Rare Exports Inc - Safety Instructions about a group of scientists conducting experiments in a Finnish town who uncover dark secrets about Father Christmas.

The film was well received at the festival and so wasn’t a surprise winner, but Spanish and Catalan critics and industry figures expected more local titles to win some key awards, especially Miguel Angel Vivas’ intense thriller Kidnapped (Secuestrados).

Instead, Dennis Gansel’s German vampire film We Are The Night took the Special Jury Award; Patrick Fabian won best actor for his performance in German director Daniel Stamm’s US horror The Last Exorcism; Josie Ho picked up best actress for her disturbing role in Pang Ho-cheung’s Dream Home from Hong Kong; and Nicolas Goldbart walked away with best script for his Argentinian apocalyptic comedy Fase 7.

Outside of the main competition, Takashi Miike’s Thirteen Assassins took the audience award; Eli Craig’s Tucker & Dale Vs Evil won best picture in the Official Fantastic Panorama competition; Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber won best Fantastic picture and Mutant Girls Squad from directors Noboru Iguchi,Yoshihiro Nishimura and Tak Sakaguchi’s won best Midnight X-treme picture; Fabrice Gobert’s Simon Werner A Disparu (Lights Out) picked up best picture in the Noves Visions section and Sion Sono’s Cold Fish won the Casa Asia award.

Furthermore, Rodrigo Cortes’ thriller Buried, which has taken more than $2m at the local box office so far, picked up the Golden Melies prize for best European picture.