Celluloid Screams 2013 – The Puppetmaster

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With only a couple of days to go until Celluloid Screams 2013 begins, I caught up with Festival Director Rob Nevitt to find out how preparations were going.

CF: How are things shaping up this year?

RN: The festival is approaching at a frightening rate now… We’ve worked really hard putting together this year’s lineup and we’re immensely proud of it. The feedback has been universally positive so we must be doing something right!

CF: You’re having the inaugural all-nighter this year. Is it something you’ve been keen to do since the festival began?

RN: An allnighter is something I’ve wanted to do since the beginning with Celluloid Screams. It’s such a different vibe from the rest of the festival and it allows us to indulge ourselves in screening films that really wouldn’t work in any other slot.

CF: I’m going to assume you’ve sat through your fair share of all-night horror marathons before. Do you have any tips for those braving it?

RN: Oh yes, I’ve certainly attended mine and arguably a bunch of other people’s share. In terms of tips, I’d say the usual stuff: don’t overindulge on alcohol early on as it’ll hit you hard pretty quickly… stay hydrated… eat. We’ve hopefully programmed the films in an order that keeps people alert and entertained, and the atmosphere should keep everyone going.

CF: How do you go about choosing which films to screen at the festival?

RN: From the beginning, I’ve always set out to uncover and showcase the very best of the genre in any given year. This inevitably means trawling through a lot of films to whittle it down to the final selection, but that’s par for the course. I always try to keep the audience at the centre of my mind when watching submissions, you absolutely have to as we owe it to the audience to find what we think is the absolute best programme. At the end of the day taste is subjective, but our audience trusts my judgement as festival director that the films we show are of a calibre to be part of the event.

CF: Shorts are often overlooked. I remember seeing Mama back in 2009 which has since been adapted into a feature film. Which ones should we look out for this year?

RN: I always put a lot of time and effort into our shorts programme for that very reason. The viewership for shorts has improved with the advent of online viewing, but it’s so rare to see them on the big screen and they’re just as valid and valued a part of the festival as the features. This year’s festival has twenty short films, all magnificent and effective in their own way. If I had to pick a few highlights they would be:  The Last Video Store, which tells the tale of a VHS video store under threat from a digital corporation and has cult classic written all over it; Angst, Piss and Drid, which is simply one of the most simultaneously beautiful and disturbing serial killer shorts we’ve seen this year; thirdly, Cat Sick Blues, which tells of the dangers of letting a stray cat follow you home, especially when the cat in question is actually a homeless man in a cat mask.

CF: This year’s guest of honour is Frank Henenlotter. Do his films have a certain resonance with you?

RN: I love Frank’s films, and the fact he’s going to be our guest of honour is beyond amazing. We tried to get him over last year, but he was in the middle of shooting a new film. I think his films represent a real outsider attitude, and that independent spirit really resonates with me.

CF: Which films would you particularly recommend for casual horror fan?

RN: I think The Battery is going to slay the audience, just like it has at the plethora of festivals it’s already played at. Big Bad Wolves is a genuine masterpiece that people shouldn’t miss – the fact that it’s arguably not what you’d call a horror film should also make it popular with a broader audience.

CF: The festival always has a laid-back friendly atmosphere. Would you say that there’s something in the make-up of a horror fan that makes them thoroughly lovely?

RN: Absolutely! I’ve often said that there’s nothing better than watching a load of horror films with a room full of likeminded fans, and although I’m biased I do think horror fans are a nice bunch. We might watch some pretty horrific stuff, but I think the sense of community and friendliness you get with the horror crowd is hard to beat.

CF: How do you prepare yourself for the festival?

RN: Bearing in mind that work starts on the next festival pretty much as the one finishes, the preparation never really ends (in fact, we’re already working on 2014) The latter stages of preparation involve running around making sure films arrive in a timely fashion, sorting all of the logistical elements such as guest arrangements, doing press and a whole host of other, altogether less interesting tasks to make sure the festival runs as smoothly as possible.

CF: Finally, Have you got something special up your sleeve for us with the secret screening this year?

RN: Ah, that would be telling. But yes, this year’s film is very special indeed.

Tickets are selling fast, so don’t miss out. Tickets are available via the Showroom and further information regarding the films on show can be found on the Celluloid Screams website. We also did a little preview ourselves.

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