BROOKVILLE — For many, watching scary movies is an essential part of the Halloween tradition. This year those folks can get their fix at the Northern Appalachian Film Collective’s (NAFCo) Halloween Horror Festival on Saturday (Oct. 24) at Brookville’s Moonlite Drive-In.
Formed approximately four years ago, NAFCo, a non-profit organization based in DuBois, advocates and promotes filmmaking in the Northern Appalachian region; working to develop a network of talented individuals with skills in production, acting, and related fields. The event will be NAFCo’s third horror film fest, but the first to be held outdoors.
“There’s been so many COVID things going on this past year and we weren’t able to have our regular dinner and movie events, our regular summer festival,” said Edward Frank, a member of the NAFCo board of directors and festival organizer. “I realized that the drive-ins were still open and thought ‘maybe we can hold our festival there to show that our group is still active and still trying to grow filmmaking.’ So I contacted Mr. (Jim) Lipuma (owner of the Moonlite).”
Hosting a film festival at the Moonlite is a first for Lipuma, just another in a unique year of firsts which has seen the drive-in stage graduations, church services and concerts. “The film festival was another one where it was something we’ve never done before, we’ve never been asked. I tend to believe because of the time of year they would prefer an indoor venue, but because of limitations on indoor venues, they want to do it at an outdoor venue,” Lipuma said.
Watching films at an independent festival is somewhat different from viewing big budget features released to theaters by major Hollywood studios. “When you go to the drive-in you typically see feature length movies. In this case you’re going to see a whole series of short films over the course of the night. Most of them probably average around eight minutes a film,” Frank said.
At just under 15 minutes in length, “The Philanthropist” is the longest film on the program, while the shortest, “Happy Hand,” clocks in at 15 seconds.
Frank estimated there were approximately 1,052 films submitted to NAFCo for festival consideration, 300 of which met the requirement of being a horror film. Ultimately Frank selected 50, with another two from last year being added to the lineup. The 52 films on the docket, which have a combined run time of approximately four-and-a-half hours, not only differ in length, they also offer a variety of takes on the horror genre.
“They range from really creepy ones to some that make fun of the whole genre. Some are humorous, there are some animated ones. Some of them are international and will have subtitles. There’s nothing overly gory, nothing socially inappropriate, there’s no sexual stuff at all. I don’t think there’s anything that would really offend anyone,” Frank noted.
The Halloween Horror Festival will have an in international flair, with films from artists representing a wide array of countries, among them Spain, China, Mexico, Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Locally made films are also being shown, with Frank highlighting offerings from artists in Reynoldsville and Warren.
“Blood on Film,” a four-minute music video, is the product of a Reynoldsville filmmaker going by the nom de plume Invader Gaya. “She’s a teenage girl and she makes videos set to music. They’re somewhat odd, but she gets a lot of views on her YouTube channel. She’s made hundreds of films, she’s very prolific. ‘Blood on Film’ is a collaboration with Moros, another major YouTube personality,” Frank said.
Warren’s Michael Gafner will be presenting a film he created and directed, “Howitzer Tales: The Boogeyman.” Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the 14-minute film follows a reluctant leader striving to bring back normalcy in a society turned upside down. The film is intended to be the first of a larger narrative universe.
“I cannot express how honored we are to be in the NAFCo film festival this year. To be allowed to show our work on the big screen is one of the greatest honors a small town production studio (MaW Mediaworks in Warren) can have. The year 2020 had been hard on everyone, but somehow we were not only able to create a short film, but the start to a whole series of shorts,” Gafner said.
With the wide assortment of films slated to be shown, there should be something for viewers of all tastes. Frank quipped, “The thing about short film festivals is if you don’t like one (film), there’ll be another one that you might like better coming along in a few minutes.”
Admission to the NAFCo Halloween Horror Festival is $20 per carload. The screening will begin at 7 p.m. with the films shown consecutively. An intermission is scheduled at about the halfway point.