Saturday at Nightmares Film Festival is always a gauntlet. A wonderful gauntlet, but a gauntlet nonetheless. There are screenings of features films and short blocks running simultaneously all day long, As a result, the day becomes an 18-hour marathon of choices involving 10 features, 7 short blocks, 2 panels, and an awards ceremony. Of that onslaught, I managed to catch the panels, the awards ceremony, quite a few shorts, and 5 films. I have reviews in the pipeline for those features, so more on them later.
Speaking of panels, this year saw the return of ones on both distribution and social progress in horror. The former was an incredibly insightful look into the ins and outs of independent film distributions, both from the perspectives of distributors themselves (Gunpowder & Sky, AGFA, etc.) and filmmakers who frequently navigate that world on behalf of their own works and others. There was also an excellent discussion on the ever-changing digital release landscape for both features and short films.
As for the other panel? Social progress is an incendiary subject these days; one that tends to quickly ignite arguments. Of course the fact that it is a touchy subject makes it an important one. All art is a reflection of the world it was born in at a very specific point in time. Horror itself is generally a mirror of our fears. What is reflected back might be distorted and disguised with a variety of genre trappings, but it’s still a revealing look at what scares us. As a result, all art is socio-political in some form or another as it reflects back our ever-changing world.
Do filmmakers have a responsibility to comment on those changes within the framework of the story they are telling? Should they censor themselves more often or avoid certain types of storytelling elements going forward? Are they responsible for how their work is interpreted by others? Do they also have a responsibility to use any privilege at their disposal to help lift up those whose voices need to be heard? This is and will forever remain a important conversations to have, which is which this panel has become a permanent fixture at Nightmares Film Festival.
Sunday, on the other hand, is a more laid back and easy-going affair, with showings returning to the single screen format. The final day of the festival alternated features and short blocks, showcasing 4 of the former and 3 of the latter. My time at the festival on Sunday was limited, due to having a long drive back home. I chose to spend most of it interacting with my fellow horror-loving attendees. At the end of the day, while Nightmares Film Festival has killer programming and resides at a phenomenal theater, the sense of community among attendees (be they filmmakers, fellow journalists, or just massive horror fans) is what keeps me coming back each year. Hopefully those of you who are on the fence about attending Nightmares Film Festival someday will chose to join me there in 2020!
And, without further adieu, I leave you with the 2019 NFF award winners…
The Film From Hell – 29 Needles
Best Overall Feature – Puppet Killer
Best Horror Feature – Z
Best Thriller Feature – Reckoning
Best Midnight Feature – The Obsessed
Best Horror Comedy Feature – Scare Package
Best Cinematography (Feature) – To Your Last Death
Best Writing (Feature) – Tommy Faircloth (A Nun’s Curse)
Best Director (Feature) – Marcus Koch & Jessie Seitz (Beyond Horror)
Best Actress (Feature) – Nicole Brydon Bloom (1BR)
Best Actor (Feature) – Tim Loden (Making Monsters)
Best Overall Short – Ferine
Best Horror Short – Tick
Best Thriller Short – Gaslight
Best Midnight Short – VR Food
Best Horror Comedy Short – Inflatio
Best Recurring Nightmare Short – Let Me Play
Best Cinematography (Short) – Daughter of Dismay
Best Writing (Short) – Rakeft Abergel & Tiffany Kiely (Boo)
Best Director (Short) – Joanna Tsanis (Imagine a World)
Best Actress (Short) – Synead Nichold (Sasquatch)
Best Actor (Short) – Baker Chase Powell (We Die Alone)
Best Short Screenplay – Shayna Connelly (Love as a Practice For Dying)
Best Feature Screenplay – Avishai Weinberger (Third Date)
Best Ohio Film – Look Twice
Have you seen any of the films mentioned above? Are you looking forward to any of them? By all means, let us know all of these things and more in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also hit me up directly on Twitter @DanielWBaldwin.