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An Interview with the Night Terrors Film Festival's Kim Sønderholm

by Mike Haberfelner

November 2015

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The Night Terrors Film Festival - in a few words, what is it about, and what's the philosophy behind it?


Well, I've long thought that Denmark needed a film festival for short genre films. We have plenty of film festivals, but not specifically for independent genre films. We have one for kids, we have one for genre - but that's mainly features, and we have several for films of the more dramatic kind and a couple for documentaries - but none for this specific type of film. It's definitely not strictly horror, but in general things genre related. 


What urged you to run a film festival in the first place, and how did the project get off the ground?


In general I feel genre films have a very tough time in Denmark and I'd love to do whatever I can in order to try and better those conditions. Late spring this year I was planning a filmtour for the Swedish film Cannibal Fog in which I acted last year. The idea was to bring it around Denmark before we went to Weekend of Hell horror convention in Germany to promote it. We did that early November this year. That gave me the idea to use the same connections to create a one day film festival travelling, first showing the films one night in Copenhagen then heading on to Denmark's second biggest city, Aarhus, to show the same films for a different audience the following night. I know a lot of people in both cities and I know there certainly is a demand but nobody has really taken the steps to meet those demands.


The Night Terrors Film Festival focuses solely on short films - what's the idea behind this?


One, two or three features don't constitute a film festival in my eyes, that's just a long film marathon (which can be great aswell), and Denmark already has a festival for the most hyped horror features, so I didn't really see a point in making another one, especially when there are so many interesting short films out there that deserve to be seen on a big screen.

It's a one day festival (one day per venue), and if we had to show feature films we would run out of time very quickly. This is why the time limit is 20 minutes, in general we wanna get around as much as possible and showcase as great a variety of films that we possibly can, from all corners of the globe.


What might be of the most interest to filmmakers at this time: Where to submit, and what's the deadline?


Deadline is December 31, and we accept submissions through Filmfreeway and Festhome - price is $15 and of course this is the total amount that covers both screenings if selected. It was important to me from the beginning to keep the entry fee as low as possible. At first I wanted to do it with free entries but it became clear to be that the expenses would be a little too muuch so it covers most of the planning expenses. I'm not in it to earn any money, I'm doing it for the love of genre film, but there have been, and there will continue to be, costs.

If it just goes even out when we hit deadline I'll be more than happy.


What sort of quality are you looking for in the films submitted? And are there any limitations you impose on filmmakers regarding the material submitted?


Outside the running time limit of 20 minutes, then no - I don't wanna set limits. I want to keep it as open as possible and like said earlier not just concentrate on a specific genre or make myself a censor or anything like that.

In general, if you think your film somehow fits, chances are huge that it does. After new years I and a couple of other filmmakers will sit down and pick the most fitting for the schedule, but it will be fair and we will take everything into consideration. We're not gonna count some higher than others, in the end we want the audience to have an interesting experience with each film. Whether your film is high budget or no budget, if it contains big stars or amateurs, that's irrelevant to us, really. We look at how the film plays out in general, if we feel that the general piece will play well.

I'm looking forward to telling people that their film has been accepted. I dread the ones I have to disappoint - being a filmmaker myself I know how disheartening the rejections can be, so that part of it is definitely not something I'm looking forward to. 


You make it a point that films submitted need to be in English or have English subtitles. Why?


We accept all language films, in fact the more difference the better, but obviously there have to be subtitles. I chose English subtitles over Danish simply cause Denmark has a lot of nationalities and many people come from outside to visit, and I want everybody to have a good time. Most Danish people speak English anyway, so I wanted to keep it as visitor-friendly as possible. This also means that Danish language films will need English subtitles.


Also, the Night Terrors Film Festival is what you call a travelling film festival - what's the idea behind that?


To have the film screened in not just one venue in one place as a one time thing, but to give people living in opposite sides of the country the opportunity to go without having to travel across the country to do so - we will do the travelling for them and bring the festival to them. That, plus I've always felt that my birthtown Aarhus has been slightly overlooked when it comes to films compared to what it deserves, so I'd love to try and be apart of changing that, even if it's babysteps.
Copenhagen, where I live now, is the capitol and this is where most of the things happen so that's fair, but I think Aarhus also has a lot of potential and that would be fair to honor.


The $64-question though, when and where will the fest take place?


Copenhagen and Aarhus - that's all I can say right now, more precise venues will be announced after new years. They are in place and confirmed but there is an agreement of disclosure with the venues for now. I can however reveal that it will be in the center of both respective cities.


Is the Night Terrors Film Festival a one-time thing, or are you planning to make it an annual event?


We'll take one year at a time, this is the first year. I'm hoping to let it be an annual thing so if everything goes well - as it very much appears to do - I'm definitely open to doing it again.


Your/your fest's website, Facebook whatever else? - all news and updates, together of course with the venues and schedule will be revealed here and of course on our Facebook page and our Twitter page.


Anything else you're dying to mention and I have just forgotten to ask?


I think we have it covered, thanks for the plug, I hope your readers will check us out - either send us their films or come by if you're in the area.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

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