Unnamed Footage Festival Round-Up

Something I’ve always wanted to tackle (but never truly thought about the logistics behind it) is a festival/marathon viewing experience like the one I had at Unnamed Footage Festival. I’ve previously heard many stories and write-ups about the experiences people would have at the New Beverly watching an entire slasher franchise back-to-back. I still remember the excitement I had when I got the e-mail to tell me about a 24-hour found footage festival. So I began counting the days and wondering just how much will I be able to watch, between sleep and other plans I may have had. I, unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to watch as many films as I would have liked. 

Some of these come from notes that I made as I watched, so I might be vague and just write the notes I wrote. 

The first feature I got to watch was I Blame Society. Directed by Gillian Wallace Horvat who also co-wrote the film (with Chase Williamson), and starred in it as well. A very riveting indictment on the filmmaking world and how women are treated within it. As well as, how looking at violence through a lens seems to lessen the impact. Which makes a compelling argument for the rest of the festival (and horror films in general). There’s a strange disconnect that is allowed for us to accept the violence.

As we’re moving towards Awards season, it’s another reminder that the Academy (and other important figures in the industry) don’t appreciate horror films. As someone who wants to be part of the horror community more, it is sad to see a lot of hard work by many talented figures get overlooked time and time again. We need more people to appreciate the subgenre more (you can start by following and listening to Mary Beth McAndrews more and their Found Footage Frames handle). 

Mary Beth even did some of the official Q&A’s, here is her interview with the director of I Blame Society.

The first short I saw was Teaching Jake and it wrecked me and terrified me. There was something to prove about how found-footage as a genre is usually a subgenre that gears towards horror storytelling, but this short proved that I had no idea what was in store for me. It’s nine minutes and on YouTube and must be watched now. We’ll wait.

The only note from Valerio’s Day Out I wrote was “Elmo the emo.” Take that as you please.

For Possessions 2, I found that it took a while to get it going, but I was invested for the finale which was gross and very unsettling.

The last film from Block 2 was 1974: La posesión de Altair. Here’s where I should mention that many people were both live-tweeting the experience, and there was an included chatroom for viewers across the world to have conversations. It made for a fascinating experience, even more so considering the chat started blowing up in anticipation of 1974. As a film I hadn’t heard of before this, I was excited. I went from being unaware to having high expectations to having them blown out of the water.

1974: La posesión de Altair is now one of my new favourite found footage films that most people aren’t going to be able to witness, at least here in Canada yet. It seems to be on American iTunes, but not yet for Candian folk. Which makes it all the more special that I was able to witness this period piece that shook me to my core at moments. Strong performances, great visuals with a wonderful aesthetic. If there’s a DVD out there that can be imported, I will pay all the extra fees in order to see it again.

That ended the second block, and in between blocks, were segments with Vernon Herman Salinger. He brought one of the founders of the festival Russell Fiscer During this gap was a quote that I loved, and as it was all live, I might be paraphrasing the quote to the best of my abilities. 

“The horror community is kind of rough on found footage, where the rest of the film community is rough on horror.”

Russell Fisher

On a way less serious note, onto Space Clown.

At first, I didn’t like Space Clown because I didn’t realize what the film was trying to be. Once I figured it out, I didn’t like it because it was still too gross for my liking. But, Graham Skipper (who stars in it and directs it) is proud of this gross strange baby of his. And that’s important as well.

At this point, it was nearly 1 am EST, so I watched the next two shorts before I fell asleep. Those were It’s Here and Toffino 2018.

It’s Here was the perfect length to make you terrified. Didn’t overstay it’s welcome. And while I loved the pacing and style that I saw in Tofino, I didn’t love the payoff. A bit too comedic but to set the final chase to that song, kind of spectacular. As was sleeping.

And I woke back up, went back into the festival before I had breakfast. This time, I went back to Dwellers. Dwellers was a film that lasted a bit too long, but it taught me how much you could do in a horror film with a low budget, but with a great location. I skipped Spaghetti Harvest so I can get a plate for breakfast prepared. Then there was Shared Document which was a great short film. Siblings working on a google doc during a phone call. It worked wonders.

The last film of the fifth block was Holy Shit That Was Scary 3: The Cloud. There was a lot going on, but it took a while to realize it was all connected. There were a lot of great moments, but overall the film works best in its mini vignettes. 

After Holy Shit, I went to run some errands and came back in time for 0’s and 1’s. It was the last film I saw at the festival, and as much as I wanted to continue watching, I was happy with this as the final film. A film that takes place on a desktop, like one I’ve never seen before. We’ve seen a few computer screen films that truly work (Searching, Unfriend: Dark Web, and of course, Host come to mind), but I haven’t seen when a film works like this. Using all the windows and different aspects of a computer screen to showcase what we’re seeing. 0’s and 1’s is a film ahead of its time.

Yes, the films make up a huge factor of a festival experience, but in reality, so do the people that attend and the conversations during the film. A few were live-tweeting or reacting to the films after each presentation, as well as the ongoing chat room. I’ve never attended a festival like this, with so much communication and interaction. I wish I interacted more, but there’s always next year. 

Now if someone can help me track down 1974: La posesión de Altai so I can show this film to friends, I’ll appreciate that very much.