Savannah James

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Often associated with cheesy ‘80s flicks or gore-galore slasher films, horror is not always taken seriously. The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival (BHFF), however, pushes past the genre’s stereotypes with its weeklong showcase of independent horror films. Going on its fourth year, the festival will be taking place Oct 17-24 at Nitehawk Prospect Park, Cobble Hill Cinemas, Made in NY Media Center at IFP, and other venues across the borough.

BHFF started when a few programmers from Tribeca Film Festival came together over their shared love for the genre. “It immediately caught people’s attention the first year,” Matt Barone, the festival’s head programmer, told Bushwick Daily. “Since day one, we’ve dedicated Brooklyn Horror to defying the expectations of horror fans and naysayers alike with films that challenge the genre and reinvent its classic tropes, and 2019’s program does that in spades,” he stated in the festival’s press release.  

Art Direction & Design by Richard Smykowski, Photography by Brendan Meadows.

This is BHFF’s second year with a weeklong schedule, which includes features, shorts, discussion panels, and after-parties. The two showcase films, “Beach House” directed by Jeffery A. Brown and “Daniel Isn’t Real” directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer, were both largely filmed and produced locally. 

“We do as much as we can to showcase local filmmakers, which is why ‘Daniel Isn’t Real’ is our centerpiece film. It was filmed entirely in Brooklyn,” Barone said. The film is about a boy whose childhood imaginary friend resurfaces later in life as (spoiler alert) a manifestation of anxiety, and becomes a manipulative, negative force in the boy’s life. 

Still from “Blood Quantum.”

Though the festival focuses on New York film makers and locally produced work, there are several international features from foreign countries, including Laos, Sweden, Argentina, and France.  BHFF is also bringing back their Fear in Focus sidebar from 2017, highlighting three features from Brazil, which will take place on October 2o at IFP. 

Each year, the BHFF team hand pick films for the program, most of which come through an open call for submissions. Not set on any theme or style, “quality is the first thing [they] look for in a submission,” Barone said of the process. “Every year we have a different vibe.” By not having a set theme in mind, they can “explore different tones and styles of filmmaking” from both local and international participants.  

Still from “The Shed.”

In addition to the feature films, there will also be a round of short films including a Home Invasion series, and a series of LGBTQ+ shorts. There will also be a screening of the “Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” a German expressionist film from the 1920s, with a live score in celebration of the film’s 100th  anniversary. 

While the bulk of BHFF takes place during the weekends, films and events will be happening throughout the week across the borough. For more information on programming, check out the official website. BHFF also has Instagram and Facebook.

Images courtesy of BHFF: Cover photo still from “Mystery Of The Night.”

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