A new genre-film fest debuts in the Pacific Northwest next month as Make Believe Seattle Film Festival runs March 23–26, 2023. With a variety of new and classic fright-fare cinematic offerings featuring slashers, extraterrestrials, vampires, and more, the fest also serves up a tantalizing array of hosted events and fun activities. Following is the official press announcement.
Announcing the debut of a brand-new film festival coming to the big screen in Seattle. The Make Believe Seattle Film Festival is the region’s first-ever dedicated genre film festival shining a light on horror, science fiction, fantasy, animation, and more. The festival will screen exclusively in-person at SIFF Cinema Egyptian, Northwest Film Forum, West Hall (part of Century Ballroom), and Queer/Bar from March 23-26, 2023. Festival passes are on sale now and are available at makebelieveseattle.com. Individual tickets go on sale February 22, 2023.
Make Believe Seattle features 31 programs, including narrative features, documentaries, mid-length films, short film blocks, the Be Kind, Rewind series of archival and anniversary screenings, and the inaugural Imagination Award presented to celebrated boundary-pushing filmmaker Guy Maddin (THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD, MY WINNIPEG, THE FORBIDDEN ROOM). A cinephile game night, live podcasts, filmmaker Q&As, and parties round out the film festival lineup that also boasts two World Premieres and seven West Coast Premieres.
“Make Believe is all the things I have ever wanted in a genre film festival,” says Billy Ray Brewton, founder of Make Believe Seattle. “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.”
Make Believe Seattle will open on Thursday, March 23, at Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theatre with the West Coast Premiere of ALIENS ABDUCTED MY PARENTS AND NOW I FEEL KINDA LEFT OUT. Fresh from its world premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Jake Von Wagoner’s family-friendly feature is part sci-fi caper and part coming-of-age story about aspiring teenage journalist Itsy (Emma Tremblay, THE JUDGE, SUPERGIRL) who moves to a small town with her family. She soon meets her space-obsessed, oddball neighbor Calvin (Jacob Buster, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, COLONY) and plans to write an exposé on him for a summer internship in New York City, but she discovers Calvin has an out-of-this-world secret. Following the film, celebrate year one of Make Believe Seattle with the “Killers on the Loose” opening night party. Slasher films will be playing, deep dark jams will be spinning, and attendees are encouraged to dress up as their favorite horror movie killer for a chance to win prizes for best costume.
Make Believe Seattle’s lineup also features two Spotlight Screenings. The eye-opening documentary LITTLE RICHARD: I AM EVERYTHING, from director Lisa Cortés (ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY), is a long overdue account of one of the most creative, eccentric, and influential musical artists of all time and chronicles his ongoing contributions to the field of imagination
The World Premiere of PURSUED is a 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), and the late Paul Sorvino (GOODFELLAS).
To close the festival on March 26, Make Believe Seattle is proud to present the World Premiere of POUNDCAKE, directed by Onur Tukel (APPLESAUCE, SUMMER OF BLOOD), one of the most astute and fearless satirists of his generation. This dark and twisted new comedy about a serial killer who targets straight white men answers the all-important question: “What’s one more dead straight white dude?”
“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,” says Kasi Gaarenstroom, Make Believe Seattle film programmer. “These stories push narratives and beliefs and are a catharsis to many that may not see themselves in mainstream media.”
Make Believe Seattle will present its inaugural Imagination Award to Guy Maddin at a 30th Anniversary Screening of his film CAREFUL. This 1992 classic, about the wary residents of a 19th-century mountain village who must tread carefully and speak softly lest they cause an avalanche, is the perfect showcase for Maddin’s blend of realism and fantasy. Before the screening, he will accept the award (virtually) and discuss his decades-long career in a business that doesn’t always reward the weird, wild, and wonderful. GUY MADDIN MIXTAPE, a program of some of his most acclaimed short films, co-curated by Maddin himself, will screen during the festival.
“When thinking of whom to honor for our inaugural award, we wanted to go with someone whose very existence seemed an act of imagination,” says Brewton. “Guy Maddin was absolutely the first name that came to mind. A singularly unique artist, no one in film is doing what he does, and that’s a damn shame.”
Another festival highlight is HORROR INTERRUPTUS, a unique interactive presentation of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1987 horror western masterpiece, NEAR DARK, presented by film critic, author, and screenwriter Drew Mcweeny. This event pays homage to Roger Ebert’s annual Ebert Interruptus, which took place from 1975 to 2006 at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Conference on World Affairs. Throughout the film screening, whenever Drew or an audience member screams, “Stop!” the film is paused, and the audience discusses what they’re seeing, what it means, and why it’s important for cinema.
FRIDAY THE 13TH VENGEANCE 2: BLOODLINES will screen on March 22 at Northwest Film Forum as a special free (with RSVP) festival preview presentation. A continuation of FRIDAY THE 13TH VENGEANCE, this unauthorized fan film is the epic conclusion of the Tommy Jarvis storyline. It follows his daughters, Angelica and Ashley, as they search for their dad while attempting to evade Jason Voorhees’s father. Limited seating is available.
Make Believe Seattle will present juried awards for Best Feature, Best Short, Best Mid-Length, and Mindbreaker (given to the film that best breaks the brain. Each jury award will receive a $500 cash prize. Audience Choice awards will also be awarded for Best Feature and Best Short. The recipients of these awards will also each receive a $500 cash prize.
The festival takes place from March 23-26. Screening venues include SIFF Cinema Egyptian, Northwest Film Forum, West Hall, and Queer/Bar. VIP Festival Passes are $150 and are limited to only 25 available. They include all screenings and events, plus an invitation to the filmmakers’ brunch. Festival Passes are $100 and include access to all film screenings and events. Day Passes are available for $50 and include all screenings for the selected day of purchase (Saturday, March 25 and Sunday, March 26 only). Party Passes are $25 each and include admission to all parties, but no screenings or events. All passes are on sale now. Individual tickets are $12 each and go on sale February 22 at makebelieveseattle.com.
Opening Night: ALIENS ABDUCTED MY PARENTS AND NOW I FEEL KINDA LEFT OUT
WEST COAST PREMIERE
Narrative; 2023; USA; 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. Starring: Will Forte (MACGRUBER) and Elizabeth Mitchell (LOST), this wild and wonderful family film world premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival before making its way directly to The Emerald City.
Closing Night: POUNDCAKE
Narrative; 2023; USA; 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?”
LITTLE RICHARD: I AM EVERYTHING
WEST COAST PREMIERE
From CNN Films and HBO Films comes a long overdue chronicle of one of the most creative, eccentric, and influential musical artists of all time. Little Richard shaped a generation of performers and musicians with his larger-than-life persona and made a name for himself by going against the norms of music and performance at the time. Featuring musical legends Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones, and more – LITTLE RICHARD: I AM EVERYTHING chronicles his career, his music, and his ongoing contributions to the field of imagination.
Narrative; 2023; USA; 105 minutes; d. Jeffrey Obrow
From the director of the horror classic THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD 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).
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
THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER PART V – directed by Jay Burleson, West Coast Premiere
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
A LIFE ON THE FARM – directed by Oscar Harding, West Coast Premiere
MISTER ORGAN – directed by David Farrier, West Coast Premiere
Short Film Programs
GUY MADDIN MIXTAPE
WEIRD, WILD, AND WONDERFUL
WIN, LOSE, OR DRAWN
BE KIND, REWIND SERIES
CAREFUL: 30TH ANNIVERSARY – directed by Guy Maddin, 30th Anniversary Screening
EVENING PRIMROSE – directed by Paul Bogart, Archival Screening
MAKE-OUT WITH VIOLENCE – directed by The Deagol Brothers, 15th Anniversary Screening
MYSTICS IN BALI – directed by H. Tjut Djalil
CINEPHILE GAME NIGHT – horror, sci-fi, and fantasy movie trivia
COLORS OF THE DARK LIVE!
HORROR INTERRUPTUS – NEAR DARK with Drew Mcweeny
IMAGINATION AWARD PRESENTATION: GUY MADDIN
OPENING NIGHT “KILLERS ON THE LOOSE” PARTY
SCREEN DRAFTS LIVE!
FRIDAY THE 13TH VENGEANCE 2: BLOODLINES, Preview Screening
Make Believe Seattle Film Festival is sponsored by MUBI, Fangoria, Northwest Film Forum, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, C89.5, and Sonder.