By MICHAEL GINGOLD
It’s the Seattle area’s first-ever dedicated genre film fest.
The debut edition of the Make Believe Seattle Film Festival, devoted to horror, science fiction, fantasy, animation and related genre movies, will take place March 23-26. It’ll be an exclusively in-person event, with venues including SIFF Cinema Egyptian, Northwest Film Forum, West Hall (part of Century Ballroom), and Queer/Bar.
“Make Believe is all the things I have ever wanted in a genre film festival,” says founder Billy Ray Brewton. “There are few areas of the country more steeped in the mysterious and fantastical than the Pacific Northwest. We plan to harness that energy coursing through this region’s veins to celebrate the many facets of the genre film category.”
“Genre film festivals thrive in highlighting the truly indescribable–telling stories that refuse to be contained within typical cinematic categories like comedy or drama, but that exist in the murky boundaries in-between,” adds programmer Kasi Gaarenstroom. “These stories push narratives and beliefs and are a catharsis to many that may not see themselves in mainstream media.”
There will be 31 programs presented at the festival, including screenings, live podcasts, filmmaker Q&As, parties and more, along with the initial Imagination Award to acclaimed maverick filmmaker Guy Maddin, with a 30th-anniversary screening of his movie CAREFUL. Among the key features being shown are:
Opening Night: ALIENS ABDUCTED MY PARENTS AND NOW I FEEL KINDA LEFT OUT (West Coast Premiere)
Narrative; 2023; U.S.; 86 minutes; d. Jake Von Wagoner
Teenage aspiring journalist Itsy is miserable when her family moves to the small town of Pebble Falls. Among the new challenges–a fixer-upper house and unfriendly high schoolers, to name a few–Itsy meets Calvin, her strange, space-obsessed neighbor and classmate. Itsy befriends Calvin in hopes of writing an exposé on the oddball for a summer internship back in New York City, but she soon discovers that the amateur astronaut has an out-of-this-world secret. Calvin believes his parents were abducted by aliens, and it’s his mission to find and join them in outer space. As they endeavor to uncover the truth, the pair of outsiders foster a surprising and heartwarming friendship.
Closing Night: POUNDCAKE (pictured above; World Premiere)
Narrative; 2023; U.S.; 90 minutes; d. Onur Tukel
From Onur Tukel, one of the most astute and fearless satirists of his generation, comes POUNDCAKE, a film about a serial killer who targets straight white men. While some residents of The Big Apple feel empathy and concern for the situation, others feel the victims are getting what they deserve. From the filmmaker behind APPLESAUCE, SUMMER OF BLOOD, and CATFIGHT, comes a dark and twisted new comedy that answers the important question: “What’s one more dead straight white dude?”
Spotlight Screening: PURSUED (World Premiere)
Narrative; 2023; U.S.; 105 minutes; d. Jeffrey Obrow
From the director of the horror classics THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD and THE KINDRED comes the World Premiere of this riveting thriller about a teenager who stalks her mother’s new boyfriend, only to accidentally stumble upon a stranger with the same name who also happens to be a deranged serial killer. Starring Madison Lawlor (THE AXE MURDERS OF VILLISCA), Molly Ringwald (THE BREAKFAST CLUB), Sam Trammell (TRUE BLOOD), Angus Macfadyen (BRAVEHEART), Shawn Christian (DAYS OF OUR LIVES), and the late Paul Sorvino (GOODFELLAS).
Other narrative features in the lineup are:
- BLACK LODGE, directed by Michael Joseph McQuilken (West Coast Premiere)
- FREAKS OUT, directed by Gabriele Mainetti (Pacific Northwest Premiere)
- THE FIVE DEVILS, directed by Lea Mysius (Pacific Northwest Premiere)
- THE JESSICA CABIN, directed by Daniel Montgomery
- POLARIS, directed by Kirsten Carthew (Washington State Premiere)
- SMOKING CAUSES COUGHING, directed by Quentin Dupieux (Pacific Northwest Premiere)
- Double Feature: THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER PART V, directed by Jay Burleson (West Coast Premiere) and THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER, directed by Jay Burleson (West Coast Premiere)
- UNICORN BOY, directed by Matt Kiel (West Coast Premiere)
- VALENTINE CRUSH, directed by Jamie Wede (Seattle Premiere)
There will also be a Horror Interruptus interactive screening of Kathryn Bigelow’s NEAR DARK, hosted by author/critic Drew McWeeny, a free preview showing of the fan film FRIDAY THE 13TH VENGEANCE 2: BLOODLINES and lots more. Festival passes are now on sale, and individual tickets will become available February 22; head over to Make Believe’s official website for more details.