Nightmares Film Festival Goes Digital In 2020 With NFF: MASQUERADE

In place of its usual in-person festivities, Nightmares Film Festival will return this year as a digital event. Ohio’s premier horror film festival will transition to Nightmares Film Festival: Masquerade for its 2020 event, which will run from October 21st thru October 25th. As someone who has attended the fest since its inception and was already mourning the fact that it was unlikely to occur this Halloween season, today’s announcement has made me a very happy horror fiend.

“We’re excited and proud to announce NFF: Masquerade, a digital experience we’re launching to bring together the worldwide horror community during what are challenging, isolating times for everyone. We could all use some time with people who love what we love, connecting and getting inspired, and though we can’t hold our in-person event, we were determined not to let the year go by without creating that opportunity.”

Jason Tostevin, co-founder and programmer.

According to the fest’s organizers, the decision to call off the 2020 in-person edition of the festival was a difficult decision, but still the right one to make.

“We’ve been tracking every change in COVID-19 rates and safety protocols for months in hopes we’d find a way to gather in person and still protect people’s health. It’s clear now there’s no safe or ethical way to bring people from around the world into one space for several days, and there was just no way we were going to risk harm to people.”

Chris Hamel, NFF co-founder and Gateway Film Center President.

NFF: Masquerade will make the fest’s 2020 short and feature film selections available to event pass holders through a secure online streaming platform for the five-day duration of the fest. That’s right, folks! We’re getting an extra day this year!

Even better, the platform includes apps for AppleTV, Roku, and Android TV, which will allow viewers to watch on their home theater setups. This is absolute music to my ears, as anything that cuts down on the need to watch a movie on my laptop is a massive bonus for me. I’m sure that many of you agree.

While Nightmares will publish a recommended schedule, including shorts blocks and feature & short pairings, pass holders and those who purchase individual film streams will be able to watch the festival’s “better horror” program in their own order, on their own time. That is another massive bonus.

In addition to the industry-leading film program Nightmares is known for, Masquerade will present several live components each day, like real-time Q&As with filmmakers. These include hosted screenings and question sessions with the festival’s “Shut-In Shorts” selections, a category Nightmares created this year exclusively for films made under quarantine constraints.

In a first for Nightmares, Masquerade will include live table readings of selections from finalist screenwriters, performed by award-nominated actors from 2020 films. 

The experience will also include learning labs and development workshops with leading genre creators. Confirmed presenters include Natalie Erica James (2020’s Relic), Jason Trost (The FP), Brandon Christensen (Z, Still/Born), Aaron B. Koontz (Scare Package, The Pale Door), Lukas Hassel (The Black List) and Depaul University’s Professor Shayna Connelly. NFF’s closely-watched annual panels on distribution and diversity will be held as part of Masquerade, too.

Of course, security is a concern for many when films are presented digitally… 

“We know how important protecting creators’ projects is. We are holding Masquerade on a platform that’s been tried and proven by top film organizations this year, including AFI. The platform used for Masquerade was chosen because it allows both geoblocking and limiting total views of a film. Nightmares staff will allow individual filmmakers to set both the territories that may access their film and limit the number of streams if desired.”  

Chris Hamel

The festival’s schedule for selecting films will not be affected by the transition.

“We will still announce the final program September 20.”

Jason Tostevin

Submissions are still being accepted for consideration at For updates, follow Nightmares Film Festival on social media @NightmaresFilmFest. Also be sure to keep an eye on Dread Central’s coverage of NFF: Masquerade! We will be sure to keep you informed on the upcoming program, which films are and aren’t geo-locked, and will naturally be covering the event itself with reviews and other goodies.

Have you been to Nightmares Film Festival before? Do you plan on attending this year’s digital festival? By all means, let us know all of these things and more in the comments below or on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram! You can also hit me up directly on Twitter @DanielWBaldwin.

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Written by Daniel Baldwin

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