The 1st (and hopefully not last) Horror Film Festival in a Weekend

In been a long time coming and something that, personally, we’ve been working towards for some two years now but Sunday at 3:30AM saw the close of the first test of whether Belfast has room in it’s festival calendar for a Horror Film Festival.

Halloween 2009
Two years ago, while promoting our Dawn of the Dead event in Westfield Castlecourt we had sat down for a couple of like minded horror enthusiasts with the idea of putting together a programme that would give the capital city of Northern Ireland it’s own horror festival.  Dawn of the Dead proved to be a success as it sold out and gave us the onis to move the plans forward.  The road took a slight detour when the opportunity to open the Movie Bar came along as it was something that both myself and my programming partner felt the City lacked and was something that we personally would love to go to.  The idea of a horror festival never went away, though it did take a couple of hits.  One of which being, a poorly attended and mismanaged, Zombie weekend at a cinema in Belfast.  It was enough to convince most of the attendees of the first meeting that the idea was foolish but perhaps we’re a little thicker than normal folk.

Prior is the future
Thankfully that appears to not be the case and we’ve been able to prove those misconceptions about a lack of audience wrong.  With thanks to all involved and the BFF the Horror Film Festival in a Weekend saw some 310 people pass through it’s screenings in a little over 36 hours.  The Whisperer in Darkness was a bonafide success and gave the audience a taste of what fans and societies can do that isn’t being done by those who are running the film industry.  David Prior’s AM1200 is amazing, short but so beautifully crafted you will cry at the prospect of it only being 40 minutes.  Prior, such a master of his art, that he’s being touted by David Fincher as the “next big thing” which is a phrase overused but has credibility when it comes from such an auteur as Fincher.

Saturday night saw the Movie Bar move postcode in order to play it’s part as the Mega Movie Bar and offered up it’s distinctive taste in cinema.  The proceedings started off familiar enough with Outcast starring our own James Nesbitt and was quickly followed by French Zombie menacer The Pack before taking the audience off the GPS approved track and into the shadowy marshlands of indie horror.  The Taint brought the audience together in awe as the film makers simple love for cinema blazed across every moment of the excellent horror comedy and softened them up for the New Zealand offering, Wound, which left the dedicated blown away by the absolute raw force of the film.

"The Taint was exceptional!"
It’s been really wonderful to be able to look at something as challenging as a Horror Film Festival, with all the doubts of whether it would be possible and whether anyone would come, and have those doubts shattered.  Two years on from the original idea the plan has changed ever so slightly but the goal and spirit remained the same.  Now the challenge is to grow the weekend, isolated in one venue, into a multi venue festival that can attract cinematic offerings from all over the world and make the Horror Film Festival in a Weekend something people can sink their teeth into.

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