Yours truly was present for the entire 9-day festival in Provo, Utah. Feature films. Short films. Music videos. Animated shorts. Documentaries. Web-series. Panels. Parties.
And complete exhaustion. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
This was Horror Freak News’ third year covering this festival – which is an eclectic mix of horror films, fantasy films and sci-fi film goodness. No matter what genre you lean toward, you’ll certainly find something to spark your fancy at Filmquest.
But why don’t I just shut up, and offer my avid readers of 2 what they really want? Who the heck won?
And the winners are:
Best Feature Film: The Glass Coffin
Best Director – Feature: Diego Hallivas for Curvature
Best Feature Screenplay: Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse
Best Lead Actor – Feature: Thomas Aske Berg for Vidar the Vampire
Best Lead Actress – Feature: Paola Bontempi for The Glass Coffin
Best Supporting Actor – Feature: Kyle Gass for Gnaw
Best Supporting Actress – Feature: Audrey Rancourt-Lessard for Dead Leaves
Best Foreign Film: Hostile
Best Feature Cinematography: Replace
Best Feature Editing: Charismata
Best Documentary: Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape
Best Production Design – Feature: Domain
Best Costumes – Feature: The Secret Garden
Best Sound – Feature: Curvature
Best Feature Score: Flora
Best Visual Effects – Feature: Gnaw
Best Makeup – Feature: Hostile
Best Feature Ensemble Cast: Charismata
Best Comedy Short Film: Nocturnally Yours
Best Fantastic Short Film: Alternative Math
Best Fantasy Short Film: The Ningyo
Best Horror Short Film: The Plague
Best Sci-Fi Short Film: Real Artists
Best Student Film: Buckets
Best Animated Film: Killer Recipe
Best Music Video: Fuck Everything
Best New Media / Web-Series: The Street Wizard’s Apprentice
Best Utah Production: Maggie
Best Director – Short: Miguel Ortega for The Ningyo
Best Short Screenplay: All the Marbles
Best Lead Actor – Short: Jamie Pigott for Populace
Best Lead Actress – Short: Marie Sophon for Noro
Best Supporting Actor – Short: Tristan McKinnon for Alfred J. Hemlock
Best Supporting Actress – Short: Bonnie Aarons for Nocturnally Yours
Best Short Cinematography: Mauvaises Tetes
Best Short Editing: The Man from Death
Best Production Design – Short: Other People’s Heads
Best Costumes – Short: Spiritus Lepus
Best Sound – Short: Feeding Time
Best Score – Short: The Ningyo
Best Visual Effects – Short: The Ningyo
Best Makeup – Short: The Call of Charlie
Best Short Ensemble Cast: Spiritus Lepus
The Minerva Award [Female Filmmaker Prize]: Norma Vila for Jules D. and The Glass Coffin
Best Youth Film: Jouska
Best Unproduced Feature Screenplay: 1st Place: Run & Scream by Bill Millsap 2nd Place: The Dark Passenger by Jeremy Kirk 3rd Place: The Wild, Wild Witch by Walt Griggs and Greg Hill
Best Unproduced Short Screenplay: 1st Place: The Third Death by Amanda Prager 2nd Place: Message through the Stars by Vijay Varman 3rd Place: Fighter by Toy Lei and Elana Pisani
Filmquest Express Films (this is a week-long film challenge, where filmmakers are given certain elements, i.e. locales, genres and lines of dialogue to build upon – to have a completed 5-minute film – including post-production): Best Score, Editing, Screenplay, Acting, Cinematography and BEST FILM went to Switched. Best effects/make-up and a 2nd Runner-Up placement went to The Visitors. Best art direction and costumes went to From Beyond. Best use of elements went to My Melinda. 1st Runner-up was William and Theodore 4.
And, as is the norm in my festival wrap-ups, I have to make my own voice heard. So here are my personal picks for the feature films and the short films:
TOP 5 PICKS for FEATURE FILMS (in order of preference):
Vidar the Vampire (review and interviews forthcoming)
Dead Shack (see my review out of Fantasia)
Replace (see my review out of LA Film Festival)
Domain (review forthcoming)
The Glass Coffin (review forthcoming)
4 HONORABLE MENTIONS for FEATURE FILMS (in alphabetical order): Charismata (review forthcoming), Gnaw (review forthcoming), Love & Saucers, The Gateway (review forthcoming)
TOP 10 PICKS for SHORT FILMS (in order of preference):
The Ningyo, Spiritus Lepus, Real Artists, Alternative Math, The Tinwife, Nimmer, Transit Conjunction, Home Education, Sol, Goddamit
15 HONORABLE MENTIONS for SHORT FILMS (in alphabetical order):
Black Ring, Change, Cold Storage, Dawn of the Deaf, Fluffernutter, Homesick, Imbroglio, Noro, Other People’s Heads, Pizza Face, Raisin, The Gift of the Woods, The Man from Death, The Man Who Caught a Mermaid, Three Skeleton Key
And I’m adding a fun new listing to my wrap-up:
Which short films do I want to see as a feature? Some short pieces are made to be just that. But several of the shorts you see – are either clearly some sort of “proof-of-concept” or are just aching to be expanded upon. Here’s my short list of pieces which left me intrigued and longing for more (in alphabetical order):
Dawn of the Deaf, Home Education, Homesick, Icarus, Imbroglio, Maggie, Memoir, Noro, Pendulum, Sol, Spiritus Lepus, The Ningyo, Three Skeleton Key, Wolf of Vengeance
Some history: Filmquest started out in Salt Lake City for its first year, moved to Sandy, Utah (just south of SLC) for years two and three – and now has hopefully found a permanent home in downtown Provo.
Provo is a college town, so there’s a lively and young vibe here. With nine days for my husband and I to explore (when our butts weren’t in the theatre seats – which was most of the time), we found great shops, eclectic food choices (Guatemalan, Peruvian, Dominican) and all of this was within just blocks of the Covey Center for the Arts (where most of the films were screened).
Not knocking it, but since this is Utah – Sundays are pretty hard to find open businesses and easy access to necessities – including the fabulous Covey Center (it’s an awesome venue, folks!)
Which is why Filmquest opened up the doors to local music-spot, Velour – where the only Sunday of the festival saw a block of music videos (how appropriate), more panels and plenty more films. It’s a very cool place, with a great vibe – and comfy seats (if you got the VIP sofa area like I did!) A bit of trivia, Velour is where such bands as Imagine Dragons and Neon Trees got their start.
Among the other fun events throughout the festival’s week-plus: A 30th Anniversary screening of Rob Reiner’s classic The Princess Bride. The evening included folks in costume to help celebrate the occasion, sword-fighting lessons and a themed karaoke party afterward.
Alex Nibley (Professor at Utah Valley University) hosted a 35th anniversary screening of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner – which included his live film analysis of this sci-fi classic!
And as is the tradition at Filmquest, there was a “getting to know you, getting to know all about you” filmmaker luncheon early on in the festival, where everyone got together to eat, commune (appropriately at a fabulous eatery called Communal) and tout their wares – thereby making some wonderful connections.
There were panels all throughout the nine days, including one with several film critics (including yours truly), one focusing on female filmmakers in the genre and a panel with indie film distributor Raven Banner. Also on the schedule was a talk with Arrowstorm Entertainment “Utah’s Leading Genre Production House” and a panel with Jason Lilles – a Filmquest alum, and now part of the forthcoming Rampage and this year’s Death Note.
And lastly, several respected genre film festival organizers joined forces to answer all of your burning questions about submitting your film – what they look for, how they program and why you shouldn’t cry if you didn’t make it in.
On that note, there was a very exciting announcement from Filmquest festival director/founder Jonathan Martin and the aforementioned three other genre festival directors (Bears Fonte from Other Worlds Austin, Miguel Rodriguez from Horrible Imaginings and JT Seaton from NOLA Horror Film Festival). They joined together on stage at the awards ceremony to announce a partnership of genre festivals (currently hoping for a “thumbs up” from the Rod Serling estate to name the organization after The Twilight Zone legend) in an attempt to help filmmakers, to elevate the genre as a whole and to bring an ultimate power and integrity to genre film festivals.
As I’ve mentioned in past write-ups/wrap-ups for Filmquest, there’s a genuine attempt by the festival organizers (at the center, Jonathan Martin and Jonna Jackson) to make this a wide-open opportunity to meet people in the business, chat about projects, pitch films, make valuable connections and hopefully life-long collaborators and friends. It’s a true family atmosphere and worthy of a trip up to Provo. So submit, cross your fingers for a selection and GO! And even if you don’t get in, STILL GO!
And now, as I prepare to complete the many feature reviews currently on my desk (and who knows, perhaps some short films may get reviews as well), I’ll just say this:
When you come up for the 5th annual… and if you’re planning to get through as many screenings as I did this year – caffeine yourself up good, sleep for a solid week ahead of time (why can’t we store our sleep hours?) and prepare for some mind-blowing genre goodness.
9 days. 154 films screened (up from 101 last year, folks). Countless friends and potential collaborators made. A massive celebration of all things genre. What are you waiting for?
For more information about Filmquest, check out their website at www.filmquestfest.com.