Founder of Screamfest, Rachel Belofsky
Film Festivals are a place for creative minds and fans of the medium to come together and celebrate. Genre festivals take it a step further to revel in a particular type of passion. Screamfest Horror Film Festival is now heading into its 16th year of fear in L0s Angeles. Held at the TCL Chinese Theater from October 18th-27th, Screamfest premieres and showcases new work from American and international independent horror filmmakers.
Formed in August 2001 by film producers Rachel Belofsky and Ross Martin to give filmmakers and writers in the horror/sci-fi genres a venue to have their work showcased to people in the industry. This year, Screamfest kicks off on Tuesday, October 18th with Richard Bates Jr.‘s explosive film, Trash Fire. The fest has history of presenting films that provoke and offers exposure to up and coming filmmakers.
We had a moment to speak with Belofsky about the upcoming festival; where it has come from, where it is, and where it is headed. As a vital platform for horror and sci-fi filmmakers the world over, Screamfest views hundreds of submissions each year from feature films to short subjects to screenplays. As Belofsky stated, “We wanted to create a festival where filmmakers, creators, writers, and distributors could come together, share their work, and meet.”
Of course it has to be scary though. “For me personally, I have to be invested in the characters.” said Belofsky. Despite any trappings in the paranormal, the unknown, the surreal, if an audience doesn’t care about the characters they are following, there isn’t an emotional connection.
How does one submit work? To actually submit a film, a short or a screenplay is pretty simple. It can be done through the website here with info on guidelines. But aside from the technical qualifications, what is it that Belofsky is looking for? “When we review submissions we are looking, primarily, for quality. Production value, sound, acting, it all has to be good.” Of course, the film also has to draw Belofsky and the screening team in. You won’t find films like August Underground, or the Guinea Pig Movies popping up at Screamfest. While the gore is great, quality is key. “We’ve definitely had some movies that were too much for people, like The Human Centipede, Paranormal Activity, or Inside.” Said Belofsky. Still, good movies, but extreme.
Speaking of titles, the festival has also had the privilege to premiere some pretty notable movies. Among them were Jo-On (The Grudge), Deadtime Stories, and Trick r’ Treat. They have also handed out Career Achievement Awards going to the likes of William Fredkin (The Exorcist), Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elmstreet), and Stan Winston (Jurassic Park). Of course there are sill some names that the team at Screamfest are dying to work with, Guillermo Del Toro being one of them.
As the cradle of horror cultivation in Los Angeles, it begs the question, Where is horror headed? “I don’t know, that is a great question. We are still seeing found footage movies, supernatural movies.” While Belofsky couldn’t pinpoint the exact direction the horror winds are blowing, she pined, “We hope people will be original, we’d like more fresh takes on things.”
HorrorBuzz will be covering Screamfest with reviews, interviews, and commentary from October 18th to the 27th. For tickets, and to be a part of the free events, visit https://screamfestla.com