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Nightmares Film Festival, Year 2 at Gateway Film Center

Hope Madden Hope Madden Nightmares Film Festival, Year 2 at Gateway Film CenterStill from She Was So Pretty: Be Good For Goodness Sake.
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Tis the season for scary movies, and Gateway Film Center has a whole slew of gifts for you. The Nightmares Film Festival—four days of festival-caliber indie horror and big-name genre premieres—returns for its second year October 19 – 22.

Jason Tostevin, festival co-founder and programmer, sees big things for year two.

“The word is out,” he says. “We’re not a secret. We were really taken by surprise by how strong the word of mouth was out of last year’s festival.”

Highlights include:
• filmmaker Adam Green attending with his latest Victor Crowley
• the world premiere of Tom Holland’s newest, Rock, Paper, Dead
• the theatrical premiere of the Duplass Brothers’ Creep 2
• one of only 10 theatrical screenings of the newest in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, Leatherface

The lineup also boasts dozens of genre shorts and 25 features, including nine world premieres.

Says George Wolf, a juror for the competition, “Maybe the best barometer of how much ‘better horror’ we’re seeing can be found outside of this year’s Nightmares lineup. Believe me, some very fine work from very talented filmmakers had to be left behind — that’s how strong the entire program is.”

NFF expanded its competition to include screenplays this year, judged in part by Randall Greenland.

“I think Nightmares wanted to help celebrate every aspect of the storytelling process,” he says of the new category. Greenland agrees with Wolf that the quality of submissions exceeded expectations.

“The broad spectrum of stories was incredible,” he says. “One minute I’m laughing at a comedic slasher film. The next, I’m creeped out by an atmospheric thriller. It was a really wild ride being invited into so many wonderfully twisted minds.”

Because of the sheer volume of high-quality submissions, Tostevin expanded the roster of films screening this year, which meant adding screens.

“We added a second screen for half of Friday and for all day Saturday,” Tostevin says. “Between how many remarkable submissions we get, and our own determination to bring horror fans as many great films as we can, we just had to expand.”

“Also new this year are two panel discussions,” he says. “One on social progress through horror filmmaking, and another on how horror press has changed. There were hundreds of compelling conversations in the lounge and lobby last year. We wanted to have at least a couple of them in a theater. And having thoughtful discussions about horror matches our values.”

Juror Adam Holtzapfel, who frequents genre film festivals, sees things like the panels as part of the difference between NFF and other fests.

“It feels more community focused,” he says. “It takes a genre and celebrates it, brings a focus to networking and showing people that there are quality films waiting to be found. It’s a must for genre fans and filmmakers.”

“There is a large horror community in the Midwest and local to Columbus that thrives on seeing new and different films in the horror genre, but also take pride in supporting the independent film community,” says Bridget Oliver, a NFF juror and volunteer. “These are the folks that not only want to help crowd-fund these projects, but they also want to be a part of the experience by socializing with these visiting filmmakers and other enthusiasts.”

Tostevin sees introducing independent filmmakers and this supportive community as a major emphasis for the festival.

“We want to make sure filmmakers have no question that we love them and that they’re in an environment that supports them and celebrates innovation and great storytelling,” he says, although he’s as determined to bring quality film to fans and press, and to connect filmmakers with each other.

“We want to shine a spotlight on the scripts we love, the stories we thought deserved to be realized on a screen for everyone to see,” Greenland says. “More often than not, wonderful stories aren’t lucky enough to encounter that perfect storm of opportunity that brings them to life before a hungry audience in a dark theater. It is our hope the festival might give the writers the chance to connect with other filmmakers and maybe realize that perfect storm.”

Tostevin agrees: “I’m excited to have those finalists here, meeting the filmmakers. I predict we’ll see at least one movie come out of those connections.”

“It’s really amazing watching the second year unfold,” Oliver says. “We have a number of award-winning filmmakers like Brooklyn Ewing and James Quinn returning for a second year, to not only premiere their latest films, but also continue to build on their network of other filmmakers that will help them learn, grow and also inspire others to do the same.”

Ewing, whose She Was So Pretty: Be Good for Goodness Sake premieres Friday, October 20 at 10 p.m., credits NFF with giving her needed confidence to continue as a filmmaker.

“As a new filmmaker I was still unsure about my film, and my talent,” she says. “Nightmares Film Festival was an inspiring horror community atmosphere that helped me build my confidence and network with veterans in the genre. Their belief in me as a director gave me the courage to make a second feature film. It was also validation that I made something worth watching.”

Thomas Eikram, a filmmaker whose Le Accelerator makes its North American premiere October 21 at 2 a.m., submitted because of the positive word of mouth the festival received last year.

“I have been making films since 1990,” he says. “The festival scene has changed. Back in the day, festivals were more open to radical expressions, there were no submission fees and the bar was always well stocked. I heard good things about the festival from previous contributors and am delighted to be part of it. I hope to get some feedback, watch a lot of films and hopefully get more exposure.”

“It’s really amazing how big a mark NFF has made in just two years,” Wolf says. “We see the genre community rallying around it, with filmmakers inspiring the audiences and each other to keep moving forward.”

Tostevin sees it as a clear evolution from the festival’s inaugural season.

“We started Nightmares to elevate horror and inspire horror filmmakers,” he says. “We love horror. We believe in it and celebrate it. We think it’s important, and we treat it that way.”

Get the full Nightmares Film Festival line up HERE.

For tickets, visit gatewayfilmcenter.org.

Read more from Hope at MADDWOLF and listen to her podcasts FRIGHT CLUB and THE SCREENING ROOM.

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