In a month celebrating Women in Horror, February ended on an incredibly rewarding high note with the WOMEN IN HORROR FILM FESTIVAL, presenting three days of horror features and shorts from an amazing selection of talented women filmmakers. Run by Vanessa Ionta Wright, the festival launched in late 2016 (founded by Vanessa and Samantha Kolesnik) and originates in Atlanta, Georgia. Vanessa has grown the festival by leaps and bounds since its inception, appropriately ending on leap day of 2020, providing an extraordinary experience that is both celebratory and intimate with its splendid new location in Marietta, Georgia, at the historic Strand Theater. Honestly, a better time cannot be had.
The WIHFF screened nearly 90 films and shorts from young artists to seasoned veterans whether it is a group of talented young kids creating KILLER KIDS or Heather Langenkamp presenting her directorial short WASHED AWAY. The shorts are thoughtfully collected in themed blocks with the featured scattered between. Each evening is capped with an all-inclusive after-party at the host hotel, the Hilton Marietta, where fans and filmmakers alike are present to mingle and share their appreciation of the genre and the festival itself.
The festival has a broad base for its jurors, including Heather Langenkamp. Joining Heather as the 2020 celebrity guests are actress Amanda Wyss and writer/director Adam Marcus. Amanda received a special icon award presented by Heather accompanied by a personal and emotional speech that had the house in tears. To the festival’s credit, the celebrity guests were exceptional and very approachable and present during the entire weekend. Their appreciation for women filmmakers and the festival itself was always on display.
Vanessa Ionta Wright is a true champion, a hero of the horror community. She organized, along with a great team of supporters, volunteers, and jurors, one of the brightest, most relevant, and supportive horror film festivals to attend, especially given that it is only in its third year. A filmmaker herself, Vanessa has steered the festival to be one that will have a bright future and will most assuredly continue to grow and nurture new talent and reinvigorate professionals alike. Congratulations to Vanessa on all her hard work and passion for women in horror, the genre, and horror fans.
To include all the films that impressed me over the weekend would require an exhausting amount of writing spotlighting film after an incredible film. The films ranged from the extreme artistic to the straightforward goosebump raising fear fests. Some that connected personally to me follow but in no way slight the many others I won’t be able to mention exclusively.
The short MAGGIE MAY from Mia Kate Russell disturbed me the most (in a good way) leaving me haunted and affected in a gut-wrenching manner. FRAMED from teen director Thomas Hindy impressed me greatly with a professional film, structure, composition, and acting. The comedy block delighted with every feature included: GHOSTED, DAN BRINGS HOME A CAT, and ASKING FOR A FRIEND providing laugh-out-loud moments of hilarious terror. IN HER SHOES from the foreign selection contains a stand out female lead performance and a chilling location, a film to look out for. LOVE BITE presented a fun look at the zombie apocalypse with a “relationship” twist, taking advantage of local Georgia talent and scenery. An early highlight of the festival was Heather Langenkamp’s WASHED AWAY with its unique look at ghosts, love, family, and tragedy.
All in all, WIHFF is a highly recommended experience, a festival that not only supports the genre, women in the genre, and fans of the genre, but encourages community, bonding, and growth. It is a festival I personally look forward to attending again as well as its host city of Marietta, Georgia, and its host theater, The Strand. And Vanessa Ionta Wright is a bright shining star of Women in Horror who deserves every ounce of praise ushered her way during the closing events. Bravo, WIHFF, Bravo!
February 27-29, 2020
Marietta, GA (Atlanta)
The Women in Horror Film Festival was founded in late 2016 by filmmakers Vanessa Ionta Wright and Samantha Kolesnik. We are a filmmaker, screenwriter, and community-focused festival that celebrates women’s contribution to genre film.
2020 celebrity guests
Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss & Adam Marcus