Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on November 5, 2015
Tomorrow the 12th Another Hole in the Head film festival kicks off in San Francisco and for the next 11 days (Nov. 6-16) you can catch a variety of independent horror, science fiction and fantasy films being shown at New People Cinema located in Japantown: one of the city’s most scenic and culturally diverse spots. This year’s festival will include 26 feature films and 90 shorts that showcase the “raw underbelly” of independent cinema.
In the words of festival programmer Michael Guillen, Another Hole in the Head is “characterized by a scrappy, DIY aesthetic that eschews big studio content and recent trends towards elevated genre. Holehead’s programming remains curatorially committed to the genre’s graphic roots in shockploitation, visceral thrills and gleeful mayhem.” As a genre film fan with a particular interest in horror I was intrigued by Guillen’s joyful and graphic description so I decided to ask him a few questions about the festival and his programming selections this year.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with the Another Hole in the Head Festival?
Before I’d ever heard the term “cinephilia”, I was laying the groundwork for becoming a committed cinephile, staying up late in our family’s recreation room watching midnight creature features on our single television station in Twin Falls, Idaho. Though over the years I have learned to appreciate arthouse cinema, foreign language films, and documentaries, there’s no doubt in my mind that genre films remain the throbbing heart and gristle of my interest in movies. Genre films are where my love and addiction for movies reside.
When, like so many others, I joined the blogosphere in 1996 with The Evening Class, I began covering film festival culture in the San Francisco Bay Area and early on took interest in any exhibition opportunity screening genre films. Random screenings at various community-based film festivals supplemented Cosmic Hex and the Vortex Room, Dead Channels, and Another Hole in the Head Film Festival (nicknamed “Holehead”)–the genre arm of SF IndieFest–which I’ve been attending since its inception 12 years ago. Holehead has been an anticipated annual event in San Francisco’s film festival landscape.
As the range of my festival coverage increased, I began attending the Midnight Madness screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival, and eventually discovered Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival, which has rapidly surfaced as my favorite film festival of the year. For three weeks in late summer Fantasia premieres the best of international genre and remains North America’s reigning showcase. I really wanted to share some of the fare I was catching there with my SF peeps, and am so grateful that Holehead programmers George Kaskanlian, Jr. and Eric Ringer were game for a Fantasia infusion into the Holehead bloodstream.
The Bay Area is home to a lot of film festivals so what makes Another Hole in the Head unique and what should attendees expect?
As of November 2015, The San Francisco Bay Area has no other genre film festival. This is totally what makes Holehead unique, and essential to a diverse festival landscape. As a showcase for local genre talent, Holehead likewise reflects trends in the zeitgeist, which (naturally) shifts to address the repressed anxieties of our culture(s). These films vent what our psyches are often unable to articulate and serve to alleviate pressures. Audiences should expect the scrappy to the sublime. Paraphrasing Rumi, there are a hundred ways to kiss the feet of Terror. Sometimes with a shock, sometimes with a nervous cringe, sometimes with a belly laugh.
I had the opportunity to watch the indie horror film BITE (2015), which you’ve programmed for the closing night of the festival and I really enjoyed it. The film’s an interesting hybrid of Cronenberg’s THE FLY (1986) and Polanski’s REPULSION (1965) with some squirm-inducing special effects and a great central performance from its female lead, Elma Begovic. What attracts you to a genre film and how do you decide what films to program for the festival?
I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed Chad Archibald’s BITE. I agree, it’s a thoroughly entertaining goofest, riffing off Cronenberg and Polanski with a feminist inflect. What I always look for in a genre film is to be terrified and/or held in suspense. Absent that, I revel in the visceral effects of horror. I want to be hyper-stimulated. I’m a catharsis junkie. But lately I’m also intrigued by what has now become the overused concept of “elevated genre”, which is to say that horror is found more in the natural world than the supernatural world. The three other features I’ve programmed into Holehead are rooted in sociopolitical concerns over surveillance and landlord misconduct, mob violence in expatriate communities, and Christian fundamentalist attacks on women’s rights to their own bodies. More can often be said through these low-budget under-the-radar projects than tentpole spectaculars can allow. As mentioned earlier, I look for films that are reflecting the social ills and injustices of our time.
Lastly, the festival has scheduled 26 feature films and 90 shorts to show this year. That’s an impressive number! Are there any particular titles you’re especially excited about?
I’m especially excited to provide the world premiere of a 20-minute short called SPRING GARDEN by two Boise, Idaho filmmakers Jake Fullilove and Matt Shelar. I met Jake when he was 19 and could see straight off that he has the vision and drive to go legit. These kids have mediated skills developed since their mid-teens and it excites me that straight out of the gate they’ve created this well-produced psychological thriller in the vein of DEXTER. I’m committed to strengthening the creative exchange between Boise, Idaho and the Bay Area and this is my first opportunity to open that corridor.
You can purchase tickets for the festival and find further information about all the films being shown @ 12th Another Hole in the Head.
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