My final day of Nightmares Film Festival: Masquerade was comprised of marathoning short film blocks, watching three features, and attending a virtual panel about the ever-changing nature of film distribution in today’s world. The latter included panelists from companies like Neon, IFC Midnight, Gunpowder & Sky, AGFA, and more, with the discussion ranging from independent film marketing to the importance of networking when it comes to film sales to how they have all adapted their release strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Short-wise, my favorites of the day were the comedic Fucking Ghosts, the bizarre The Altruist, and She Doesn’t Really Like Rabbits. The latter was directed by Spider One, frontman of the band Powerman 5000 and brother of Rob Zombie. It also happened to star the frontwoman of the band Knee High Fox. It made for a nice surprise and it will be interesting to see what Spider One else does a filmmaker going forward.
Feature-wise, I had a nice eclectic mix for my final day. Mathieu Turi’s Meander offered up a nice new cinematic cousin to the likes of Cube and Escape Room. Oklahoma indie maven Mickey Reece’s Climate of the Hunter dished out a ’70s throwback vampire thriller. Finally, Lawrence Michael Levine’s Aubrey Plaze-starring thriller Black Bear closed things out in wonderfully meta way.
Before this iteration of Nightmares Film Festival began, I wasn’t exactly sure how it would all play out. Obviously a virtual festival has its perks. For one, you can watch everything in your own time. You aren’t forced to choose between showings of things. If you have the time, you can actually watch everything, which is awesome.
The downside, of course, is that you’re going at it alone. Sure, there’s plenty of online interaction to be had via social media platforms and the various Zoom panels, workshops, and Q&As, but at the end of the day you are still sitting around watching films solo. Given that I have been attending Nightmares Film Festival since it first fired up in 2016, my chief worry was that a virtual edition wouldn’t feel like NFF anymore. That fear is now gone. Even from a distance, it still felt like home.
We do not yet know what the rest of 2020 or the entirety of 2021 might bring. I hope that when late October rolls around next year, I will be able to attend Nightmares Film Festival again within the walls of Columbus, Ohio’s Gateway Film Center. But if things still aren’t safe by then, I take a lot of comfort in knowing that if Nightmares has to go virtual again in 2021, it will still very much feel like Nightmares. The curation will remain spot on, its community will continue to thrive, and the entire experience will continue to bring a smile to my face.
Congratulations to Jason Tostevin, Chris Hamel, and the rest of the NFF crew. You stepped up to the challenge of delivering a great virtual festival experience and you did not disappoint. Thank you for that.
Did you virtually attend Nightmares Film Festival: Masquerade? What did you see? What are you looking forward to seeing again? By all means, let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also hit me up directly on Twitter @DanielWBaldwin.