This year, GRIMMFEST, Manchester’s festival of horror, cult, and fantastic films celebrated its thirteenth anniversary with the launch of Grimmfest Easter Horror Nights, conceived as an annual event to complement the long-established October festival.
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Sadly, the ongoing Pandemic situation necessitated that, like Grimmfest 2020, the first Grimmfest Easter Horror Nights festival was also hosted online. But the show must go on, and the festival staged a successful five-day “virtual” event across the Easter Holiday period.
Like the established October Festival, this was also a competitive event, with a jury of genre experts:
Josh Millican, (That’s me!) Editor in Chief at Dread Central, acquisitions at Epic Pictures / DREAD Presents Distribution and host and creator of Chronic Horror web series.
Anton Bitel, Film Critic for Sight and Sound, Little White Lies and Scifi Now amongst other publications and a member of the Online Film Critics Society since 2007, and of the London Film Critics’ Circle since 2009.
Mariam Draeger, Presenter / Producer. Founder of Headcinema Productions. Cross-media spokesperson for horror within the festival circuit, radio and podcast scene.
The task wasn’t an easy one. But the votes now all in, and the Grimmfest team is delighted to announce the Award-Winners for the inaugural Grimmfest Easter Horror Nights.
Best Feature: KEEPING COMPANY
Josh Wallace and Devin Das’s bloody and blackhearted satire of the American Dream, which also received its European Premiere at Grimmfest Easter Horror Nights.
Honorable mention for Kourosh Ahari’s surreal and also disorientating The Night, which received its UK premiere and a special preview screening at the festival.
Best Director: JUSTIN MCMILLAN
for the supernatural crime drama, Sweet River. A tale of grief, guilty secrets, and ghosts, which received its UK Premiere at the festival
Honorable mention. JUSTIN MCCONNELL, for his unflinchingly honest and also personal exploration of the business of independent filmmaking, Clapboard Jungle.
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Best Performance(s): HELENA PUIG & ANTONIO ALCANTARA
For their extraordinary double act, in Pablo Olmos Arrayales’ dazzling feature film debut, the single-take psychological thriller, Rendez-vous, which received its Northern Premiere at Grimmfest Easter Horror Nights
Best SFX/VFX: THE BARCELONA VAMPIRESS
Lluis Danés’ visually sumptuous reimagining of an infamous real-life murder, which draws on a century’s worth of cinematic visual trickery, from silent-movie shadow play to the latest CGI, to evoke a palpable sense of place and time. The film received its UK Premiere at Grimmfest Easter Horror Nights.
Honorable mention. Alexey Kazakov’s psychedelic tale of witchcraft, possession, and male egotism, MARA. It also received its UK premiere.
Best Scare: THE OTHER SIDE
Tord Danielsson and Oskar Mellander’s bone-chillingly effective relocation of the classic haunted house scenario to a drab Swedish suburb received its UK Premiere at the festival.
Best Short: YOU’RE DEAD, HELEN
Michiel Blanchart’s deft juggling of romantic comedy nerve-jangling horror and gut punching heartbreak received its UK premiere at Grimmfest Easter Horror Nights.
Honorable mentions also for Ashlea Wessel, for the unsettling Weirdo. It received its UK premiere at the festival. And also for a couple of Grimmfest Alumni. Natasha Halevi for her stark Super-8 solo project Don’t Go Outside. And Fried Barry director Ryan Kruger for his characteristically confrontational take on the sex war, #MeowToo. Both received their world premieres at the festival.
Grimmfest Easter Horror Nights screened fourteen feature film premieres, sixteen short film premieres, and also twelve exclusive Q&As with filmmakers and stars. Movies came from the US, Australia, Sweden, Spain, Russia, Korea, and more. This was truly an international lineup of exceptional new work that featured performances from diverse stars. Such as Donald Sutherland (Don’t Look Now), Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf), Mena Suvari (American Beauty), and Sergi Lopez (Pan’s Labyrinth). Plus Shahab Hosseini (The Salesman), Lyrica Okano (Marvel’s Runaways), and Margaret Cho (All-American Girl).
In total, Grimmfest Easter edition hosted 3 World premieres, 2 International Premieres, 5 European premieres, 14 UK premieres, and also 6 Northern UK premieres. Not bad for their first Easter outing!
“All 14 of the genre features programmed for Grimmfest’s inaugural Easter Edition had their merits, which made choosing between them a difficult, if rewarding, experience.” Anton Bitel, Jury member
“It’s always exciting to see the diverse and captivating works of independent horror filmmakers from around the world. We had several films that are likely to explode once they hit the market. That made choosing winners incredibly hard but ultimately, we’re very happy with our choices.” Mariam Draeger, Jury member
Personally, I have to say that the folks at Grimmfest put together a bloody delightful slate for their Easter Edition; a diverse, sometimes challenging, but always entertainment program. It was an honor to be on the Jury! Congratulations to all of the winners and, indeed, to all of the participants.
Did you also virtually attend Grimmfest Easter Horror Nights? What do you think of the award-winners? Let us know in the comments below or also on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @josh_millican.