I spent the weekend at Horrible Imaginings Film Festival for the premiere of my new short “The Gaze.” Including my film, I saw 42 out of the 50 shorts and 3 out of the 5 features; and I attended the 60th anniversary screening of The Tingler (with Percepto —it was SO fun)! There’s no other festival where I could sit through that many consecutive films and still want more. Their programming beats pretty much every other festival I attend because they not only care about production value and put storytelling above all, they also make inclusion and contemporary social issues a major aspect of their programming. Every single block is put together so thoughtfully. It’s truly amazing. I walk away from every block having experienced so much engagement on an emotional and physical level, and with so much to ponder. Unlike so many (male-run) genre festivals, this one doesn’t have gratuitous violence against women or mindless exploitation flicks. It’s incredibly intentionally programmed, and I just really respect how well films are selected and paired together. I attended for the first time back in 2017 and absolutely loved it. You can read me rave about the festival as a whole in that post as well. For new aspects that stood out this year, there’s the change to a more centrally located & genre-friendly venue and, given the current state of the world and the various human rights violations happening in our backyards, the programming was particularly political, which for me led to a more thought-provoking and visceral viewing experience. So many of the films are still lingering in my mind in the best way.
The thing that makes the festival really special, though, is its director Miguel Rodriguez. During his introduction of The Tingler (a moment I hope was captured and will be posted on their site) , Miguel talked about how when watching William Castle speak at the beginning of the movie, it’s so clear that you’re watching someone who passionately loves what he does and gets such joy out of it. That’s what I feel is so evident when you see Miguel speak during every single instance throughout the festival. He clearly cares so much and is very apparently having a ton of fun despite the overwhelming amount of work that goes into running such a well-executed festival. He has such a warmth to him that immediately makes people feel like family. And his ability to talk in depth about every single film, and in such a genuine way, makes a filmmaker feel truly seen and appreciated. It is such a gift to be part of the festival. I hope to attend as often as I can in future years.
As for my actual screening, it went super well! It was an incredibly powerful lineup of shorts that all explored systemic issues in some way. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the first Saturday screening at 11am, but it ended up being the most attended block because it not only included the most films in one (11 shorts), it also included at least 3 local films. So there were over 100 people in house (the other blocks seemed to range from 50 to 75). The downside though was that, because there were so many people on stage, there wasn’t time for a substantial Q&A. While all other blocks averaged 3 filmmakers in attendance and each got very personalized and specific questions before opening it to the audience, we, unfortunately, only got a general inspiration question with time for only a couple more from the audience. I didn’t get to discuss the craft the way I’d hoped, which was disappointing (not just for me and my film but I also so wanted to hear more from the other filmmakers on stage with me). I don’t blame the festival for handling it that way. It’s just an unfortunate tradeoff for the larger crowd. That said, “The Gaze” got some great (audible!) audience reactions, and many people came over after to compliment the film. Overall, it was an awesome premiere and such a fun weekend!
Local Vegan Treat:
Munchies Vegan Diner is delicious! I have to shoutout specifically, though, Mylk Nut’s Lavender Almond Milk drink. I was never a milk drinker pre being vegan, and as one I rarely want to drink milk alternatives outside of coffee or tea. But I tried this milk and I was legit addicted the whole time I was there. I wish it was sold outside of Southern California!
Catch the film next at:
Fem.Cine.Anarchy on Thursday, September 19th at 7pm in Portland, Maine
Sick Chick Flicks Film Festival on Saturday, October 12th at 1pm in Cary, North Carolina
Adirondack Film Festival the weekend of October 19th in Glens Falls, NY
P.S. Check out the festival’s wrap-up for shoutouts to the rest of their team that made it such a success!