Tickets for the 10th Annual Horrible Imaginings Film Festival are now on sale, festival organizers have announced. 

The highly regarded film fest returns to The Frida Cinema in Santa Ana Labor Day weekend (Aug. 30-Sept. 1). Horror fans can expect to see new feature-length and short films from the U.S. and around the world. Over the three days, the newest voices in horror, sci-fi and fantasy will be on display, and attendees can catch in-depth panels, as well as parties and networking with filmmakers and fellow fans.

The festival was established in San Diego in 2009. Over a decade, more than 700 films have been screened for more than 8,000 fans, according to organizers. Tickets for the festival are $20-$85. 

Horrible Imaginings founder Miguel Rodriguez more than 1,300 short and feature-film submissions from around the world in 2018. Rodriguez, who says The Frida is “like a gem,” talked to Halloween Every Night about where his festival has been and where it’s going. 

Halloween Every Night: What can viewers expect from the films this year?

Miguel Rodriguez: Our programming team is still hard at work watching and discussing the films that have been submitted to us. This is one of the most challenging aspects of running a film festival! We have had over 700 titles to give our considerations to, so it is a challenge to talk about them with much specificity at this point. What I can say is that it is our mission to challenge the expectations that audiences can have for macabre or horror cinema, and that mission is a huge part of what goes into our conversations and our selections. 

We want expressions of fear to come from different points of view, be expressed in different ways (funny, sad, tragic, or dramatic, as well as the more anticipated scary), and, most of all, be calibrated to bring our audiences together with our filmmakers to find connections and even build empathy through traversing these dark emotions.”

HIFF founder and director Miguel Rodriguez talks to an audience at a screening. Photo by Jessica Peralta.

HEN: What inspired you to establish the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival?

MR: One of the things this means is that the inspiration is not static, but a living thing that evolves as I meet more artists, discover bigger audiences, and gain greater insights into the form. 

At the beginning, it was very simple. I had just moved to San Diego, and I was completely shocked to discover that a city of that size had no horror film festival to call its own. That is where Horrible Imaginings began, and I still program many film events in San Diego. Over the years, our mission has become more clearly defined. A few things have always stayed the same though. I have a very personal relationship with what I define as ‘horror storytelling.’ 

I use those words because I have a really broad definition for horror. I truly believe that the best of dark storytelling — partly because it is stigmatized and can shed pretensions more easily — is the most sincere and revealing of art forms. It is presenting the human condition in extremis, at its most vulnerable, most primal, and perhaps expressing it can not only exorcise our demons, but reveal that there are more similarities between us than differences. 

For me, horror can be fun, but I don’t gravitate to it because I think it is fun. I need it because I think it is therapy. Part of that therapy is sharing what I find with other people, and that is my ultimate inspiration for doing this. For us, the audience are as important as the creators of the films.

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