A three-day exhibition of international, independent horror films is scheduled to take place this fall at The Screening Room.
Kingston Canadian Film Festival manager Marc Garniss, Reelout Film Festival director Matt Salton and The Screening Room Theatre owner Wendy Huot have joined forces to create a film festival that they hope will join the ranks of Toronto’s After Dark, Deadmonton in Edmonton, and Fantasia in Montreal.
“Horror has its own independent alternative film community that exists outside the big-budget commercial realm,” said Huot. “We have active horror filmmakers right here in Kingston and many more across Canada. “Why not have a horror film festival in Kingston, a city that’s had a long love affair with stories about ghosts and dark secrets?”
“The three of us all thought it would be fun to create a new film festival that would contribute something new to Kingston audiences but didn’t at the same time compete with the existing festivals,” added Salton. “We all seem to enjoy the horror genre but we were skeptical as to whether the City of Kingston Arts Fund jury would see the cultural merit in a showcase of a genre that a lot of people tend to write off as garbage.”
In a combined effort to get the project off the ground, each member of the trio contributed to developing the festival and writing the grant proposal, which ultimately gave them the opportunity to go ahead with the festival. Salton said the hardest thing was coming up with the name of the festival.
“We wanted something that would invoke horror but not turn people off and also something that could relate to Kingston,” he said. “After many a night of brainstorming, we came up with a rather campy but creepy spin on The Limestone City—The Slimebone City Horror Film Festival.”
Huot explained that because a lot of the larger cultural events that take place in Kingston appeal primarily to an older audience, their goal was to create a downtown festival experience that offers appeal and excitement to a youth demographic. She says the group wanted to offer a way to showcase movies that would otherwise never be seen in a cinema in Kingston.
“These films don’t fit with the usual programming of the multiplexes, The Screening Room, or the two existing film festivals (ReelOut and Kingston Canadian Film Festival),” she said. “Many of the best and most successful do-it-yourself low budget films made today are horror films. TI West’s “The Innkeepers” is a great example. So we hope to inspire young Kingston filmmakers to create new works and make important connections with other like-minded artists living in our region.”
With the festival just months away, Slimebone has put a call out for both short and feature-length narratives and documentaries that the filmmaker considers to fit into the horror genre. The organizers are hoping that at least half of the programming will be made in Canada and that many submissions come from Kingston.
“The genre is wide open to interpretation, you can have love stories, action films, animation, science fiction and comedies that all fit into a sub-genre of horror films,” said Salton. “We hope to offer Kingston audiences a diverse number of films to choose from over the three days of the festival.”
Over the summer and early fall, the films will be selected to be part of the festival. In the meantime, venues for showcasing films and audience/artist parties and engagements will be chosen and organized. Kingstonians can expect to read about the festival in mid-October and the opening gala film will hit the big screen on Halloween night, followed by what Salton refers to as, “A Halloween party to end all Halloween parties.”
Each artist whose work is chosen to be screened will be paid to have their work exhibited and Salton said they won’t be charging submission fees.
“Horror is a genre that typically costs very little to make and many emerging filmmakers get their start in the genre for that exact reason so we hope that this festival can help raise the profile of these young filmmakers.”
So why horror?
“Watching a good horror movie is a completely exciting, physical experience,” added Huot. “I love it when a movie can actually make me gasp out loud, jump in my seat, or make me scared for my safety! Beyond being good entertainment, it’s a storytelling genre that can symbolically explore dark difficult emotions and subversive ideas… which can lead to hours of post-viewing theorizing and discussion that’s a lot of fun in its own right.”
Those interested in participating in the programming and organizational process can email the festival at email@example.com. The festival co-directors are currently putting out an international call for submissions with a deadline of Sept. 15.