Ten years of terror
What: Bleedingham Horror Film Festival
Where: Pickford Film Center, 1318 Bay St.
WHEN: Oct. 29-31; Submissions for Bleedingham are due by Tues., Sept. 21
Cost: Tickets are $10.50
Info: http://www.bleedingham.com or www.pickfordfilmcenter.org
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Watching scary films at 7am isn’t for the faint of heart, but a recent deep dive into the compendium of shorts selected for Bleedingham Horror Film Festival’s 2020 Shelter in Place Film Challenge had me glued to their website long after my first cup of coffee had gone cold.
As if living through a global pandemic wasn’t horrendous enough, the selection of frightening stories from around the world—and close to home—came from filmmakers who, like so many of us, spent much of last year in lockdown mode. They were challenged by the longtime Bellingham-based film festival to create a short story of five minutes or less, with the tools they had at their disposal while sheltering in place.
The results were both eerie and astonishing. In The Catch, local filmmaker October Yates presented a chilling example of what happens when a solo fisherman becomes the bait. Roger Ribera’s Lo Siento Gerald switched from a dreamy black-and-white scene featuring a man waiting for his date, to a full-color terror once he realized she wasn’t who he thought she was.
Before I witnessed a cooking demo gone horribly wrong and needed to escape to reheat my java, I also watched a costumed trio of Halloween partygoers head to their fate down a creepy stairwell, learned more about the genocide of albinos in Tanzania by a woman who draws attention to their plight by hanging small, chalk-white dolls from foliage in her front yard, and got under the covers with a quarantined person envisioning an idyllic escape from their current reality.
I bring these films to your attention because, through Sept. 21, the powers that be will be taking submissions for consideration in the 2021 Bleedingham Film Festival, which will screen Oct. 29-31 at the Pickford Film Center. I’d suggest watching the shorts in the Shelter in Place Film Challenge, or some of the more than 50 submissions from past festivals, for inspiration for making your own spooky scene, or just to get you excited about supporting local filmmakers.
For seasoned or newbie directors and camera crews eager to make their own short or feature film for Bleedingham, be sure and read the submission guidelines before picking up your camera, as a few rules do apply—including the fact that, yep, all films must be of the horror/thriller genre.
Sticking to their mission of providing a platform for filmmakers to receive accolades from their peers while having their work judged by an investing community with strong ties to the art of storytelling, Bleedingham has also announced that they’ve opened a student category with its own set of awards and a grand prize. The founders started out of Western Washington University, and say they never want to stray too far from their roots as “students of the craft.”
While Bleedingham staff are looking forward to returning to in-person screenings at the Pickford, they report they will also be making both the festival and the award ceremony available via virtual screenings—both for people who choose to stay home for the evening, and in case another pandemic-related shutdown happens.
“Like any good horror movie, the bottom of this could fall out and by winter we could all be in isolation again,” organizers say. “If it does, we will be ready and will still bring the thrills and chills this Halloween season!”