Make Believe Seattle Announces Full Lineup for Its Second Edition

From coming-of-age horror and science fiction offerings to darker genre takes to offbeat documentaries, the second edition of the Make Believe Seattle Film Festival is serving up a wild and wooly array of features and shorts from around the world. Following is the official press announcement.

Announcing the complete lineup of films and events for year two of the Make Believe Seattle Film Festival. Make Believe 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 Erickson Theatre, Northwest Film Forum, and the Grand Illusion Cinema from March 21-26, 2024. Festival passes, and individual tickets are on sale now and are available at makebelieveseattle.com.


The Make Believe Seattle lineup features 38 programs, including narrative features, documentaries, mid-length films, short film blocks, repertory films, live podcasts, filmmaker Q&As, special events, thematic parties, and more. Two films will make their world premieres at Make Believe Seattle, one film will be a U.S. premiere, and nine films will make their West Coast screenings at the festival.

The second year of the Make Believe Seattle Film Festival celebrates the weird, wild, and wonderful and has a very intentional theme.

“Make Believe’s theme for Year two is “Coming of Age in Genre,” says Billy Ray Brewton, founder and creative director of Make Believe Seattle. “Our programming highlights stories and experiences that speak to the child in all of us while also dabbling in the lightness, darkness, and rebellion that forms the DNA of who we all are while finding ourselves.”

Make Believe Seattle will open on Thursday, March 21, at Capitol Hill’s Erickson Theatre with the documentary SHARI AND LAMB CHOP. Directed by Lisa D’Apolito, this documentary is a heartfelt and entertaining documentary that charts the life, loves, and career hits and misses of Shari Lewis, the dancer, singer, magician, and ventriloquist behind beloved sock puppets Charlie Horse, Hush Puppy, and, of course, Lamb Chop. Director Lisa D’Apolito is scheduled to attend the screening. Celebrate SHARI AND LAMB CHOP and the kickoff of the second year of Make Believe Seattle at the Opening Night Yacht Rock Party, complete with soothing music, tiki-inspired cocktails, shrimp, yacht rock-inspired attire, and actual yacht rock. Tito’s Handmade Vodka will have a “Build Your Own Ascot” station, and DJ Trent Von will drop the beats that will whisk you away to Margaritaville.

Make Believe Seattle’s lineup features two Centerpiece film screenings. The world premiere of A MOST ATROCIOUS THING will screen on Friday, March 22. This cinematic labor of love is what happens when a group of young Chapman University students got creative during the pandemic on a shoestring budget of $5,000. When some friends preparing to step out into adulthood get together for a wild weekend getaway, they make the tragic mistake of eating infected deer meat, thus turning them into crazed, bloodthirsty maniacs. This film was partially shot in North Bend, WA. 

The British film BONUS TRACK is the festival’s second Centerpiece and screens on Saturday, March 23. This coming-of-age romantic comedy is the feature directorial debut of Julia Jackman and co-stars Josh O’Connor (young Prince Charles in “The Crown”). George dreams of being a star and knows he’s a gifted musician, but no one else seems to agree. So when Max—the son of a mega-famous musical duo—enrolls at his school and takes an interest in his music, George can’t believe it. Neither can anyone else. Part “Heartstopper,” part “Sing Street,” and all coming-of-age charm, BONUS TRACK is a warm and tender portrait of young love and artistic adventure.

While Make Believe specializes in genre cinema, it was founded to expand those often narrow definitions of genre cinema, to create and present a more diverse and inclusive slate of films, and to celebrate and champion a more diverse and inclusive set of filmmakers. More than 50% of the films in the festival are directed by women, and more than 35% are made by BIPOC directors.

Make Believe Seattle features a Native American Showcase programmed by Colleen Thurston. Thurston is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and curator from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma and is the Project Producer for Native Lens, an Indigenous digital series for Rocky Mountain PBS and KSUT Tribal Radio. Colleen is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

“I’m inspired by stories that lean into what some may consider fantastical possibilities of Indigenous cultural teachings,” says Thurston. “Our stories and legends are rooted in belief and knowledge that expand beyond Western boundaries of explanation, and the medium of film provides a platform to combine this traditional knowledge with humor, unnerving narratives, vivid imaginaries, and audacious anti-colonial criticism to create on-screen experiences such as those in this program.”


The Native American Showcase includes the film GUSH, Fox Macy’s debut feature, pieced together from a decade’s worth of personal archives, weaves through a stream-of-consciousness meditation on the impact of sexual violence and healing through collective joy. OUR ANCESTORS’ WILDEST is a program of short films including the unforgettably titled DEAR STEPHEN KING, INSTEAD OF USING INDIAN BURIAL GROUNDS IN YOUR BOOKS, HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF USING EUROPEAN BURIAL GROUNDS? and THE HANDSOME MAN starring Academy Award nominee Lily Gladstone.

Eight additional short film programs highlight some of the most diverse imagery and voices working in genre cinema today. SILENT SCREAM contains an eclectic collection of dialogue-free films from across the globe, proving that the true universal language is fear. The queer short films of MASKS WE WEAR explore and deconstruct the ever-evolving notions of gender, identity, and sexuality. UNKNOWN FORCES depict the creativity in the genre world from Black filmmakers and the stories they feel driven to tell, from the comedic to the horrific to the profound. Other programs focus on horror shorts, documentaries, animation, directors outside the U.S., and those that are just weird, wild, wonderful, or all of the above. 

Bloody Bridget

Make Believe will screen the latest film from director Richard Elfman (FORBIDDEN ZONE; ALIENS, CLOWNS, & GEEKS), BLOODY BRIDGET. In this music-driven horror-comedy, burlesque dancer Bridget meets the Haitian voodoo deity of life and death after a series of abusive events by the men in her life. Soon, she becomes empowered as a “valentine vampire,” defending women against the most evil and oppressive. Starring Anastasia Elfman as Bridget and with a score from Danny Elfman, BLOODY BRIDGET will be preceded by a musical burlesque performance by star Anastasia Elfman and produced by filmmaker Richard Elfman.

The world of George Lucas and STAR WARS is the stuff of sci-fi legend and has captured imaginations for decades, including comedian and actor Connor Ratliff, who, back in 2014, created an underground live improv event called “The George Lucas Talk Show” where Ratliff hosts a “normal talk show” as George Lucas along with his co-host Griffin Newman (“Blank Check” podcast) and producer Patrick Cotnoir. Many years later, the show has built a cult following due to society’s never-ending fascination with all things STAR WARS, a long list of well-known guests including Seth Meyers, Weird Al, Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Hamm, Kevin Smith, and the trio’s dedication to their craft. The documentary I’M “GEORGE LUCAS”: A CONNOR RATLIFF STORY follows the live performances and behind the scenes for one year as Ratliff starts to question the show’s continuation and his future. Following the screening, Connor Ratliff, Griffin Newman, and Patrick Cotnoir will present a live episode of “The George Lucas Talk Show.”


To close the festival on March 24, Make Believe Seattle presents HUMANIST VAMPIRE SEEKING CONSENTING SUICIDAL PERSON. Collecting nominations and wins at film festivals across the globe, including the Vancouver International Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, and The Palm Springs International Film Festival, this feature film directorial debut from Ariane Louis-Seize is about Sasha, a young, sensitive vampire who hates the idea of killing people for their blood. When her parents cut off her supply, she enlists the help of Paul, a suicidal boy who agrees to be Sasha’s victim as long as she spends a night helping him accomplish everything he wants to do before he dies.

The Lonely Man with the Ghost Machine

Additional festival highlights include QUEEN OF THE DEUCE, a documentary about Chelly Wilson, a Jewish grandmother and proud owner of a porn theater empire in 1970’s New York; the West Coast premiere of LOST SOULZ, the first feature from Katherine Propper, a coming-of-age story that doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of life about a young rapper who leaves everything behind and embarks on an odyssey of self-discovery, music, and friendship in the heart of Texas; the kids’ matinee of Disney’s 1983 classic SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES; and the world premiere of THE LONELY MAN WITH THE GHOST MACHINE written, directed and starring genre icon Graham Skipper (SUITABLE FLESH, CHRISTMAS BLOODY CHRISTMAS).

Make Believe Seattle will present juried awards for Best Feature, Best Mid-Length, Best Short, and the Mindbreaker Award (given to the film that best breaks the brain.) These jury awards will receive a $500 cash prize. Additional juried awards for Best First Feature, Best Animation, and the Programmer’s Award will be given. These jury awards will receive a $250 cash prize. Audience Choice awards will also be awarded for favorite feature, mid-length, and short film. The recipients of these awards will each receive a $250 cash prize.

The festival takes place from March 21-26. Screening venues include Erickson Theatre, Northwest Film Forum, and Grand Illusion Cinema. VIP Festival Passes are $250 and are limited to only 25 available. They include all screenings and events, plus access to the filmmakers’ lounge. Festival Passes are $150 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 23 or Sunday, March 24 only). Events passes are $25 each and include the opening night party, the Albert Pyun tribute, and entry to an exclusive invitation-only event at the festival. Individual tickets are $12 for mid-length films and short film blocks, $15 for features, and $20 for opening and closing nights, and are on sale at makebelieveseattle.com.

Make Believe Seattle Film Lineup
Films/programs marked with an asterisk have guests scheduled to attend the screening. 

Gala Screenings 

Opening Night: SHARI AND LAMB CHOP*

West Coast Premiere

Documentary; Lisa D’Apolito; USA; 2023; 92 minutes

Coming of age can be difficult, but it is always more bearable when you have someone who connects with you on a cellular level. Shari Lewis – like Fred Rogers, Jim Henson, and others – was one of those people. She was a dancer, singer, and magician but was best known as the ventriloquist behind sock puppets Charlie Horse, Hush Puppy, and, of course, Lamb Chop. This heartfelt and entertaining doc charts the life, loves, and career hits and misses of the spunky perfectionist who forever changed the face of children’s television. Featuring ventriloquists she inspired and nostalgia-laden clips, this upbeat portrait brims, like Lewis, with warmth and charm. From director Lisa D’Apolito (LOVE, GILDA), SHARI AND LAMB CHOP is the tonic we all need to reconnect with our inner children and celebrate pure imagination.

Closing Night: HUMANIST VAMPIRE SEEKING CONSENTING SUICIDAL PERSON

Narrative; Ariane Louis-Seize; Canada; 2023; 90 minutes

The vampire sub-genre has explored almost every angle imaginable, making the revelation of HUMANIST VAMPIREall the more remarkable. Sasha, a 16-year-old vampire, hates the idea of killing people for their blood. When her parents cut off her supply, she enlists the help of Paul, a suicidal boy who agrees to be Sasha’s victim as long as she spends a night helping him accomplish everything he wants to do before he dies. This dark and redeeming coming-of-age picture takes everything you know and love about vampires, humanizes it, and presents a world unlike any we’ve seen in a film like this before. Sara Montpetit and Felix Antoine-Benard are truly inspired as Sasha and Paul, and you won’t believe just how impactful this little film feels in the end.

Centerpiece One: BONUS TRACK
Pacific Northwest Premiere

Narrative; Julia Jackman; United Kingdom; 2023; 98 minutes

Part “Heartstopper,” part “Sing Street,” and all coming-of-age charm, BONUS TRACK is a warm and tender portrait of young love and artistic adventure. George is 16 years old, filled with musical aspirations, and discovering himself in his very small town. When the son of a famous musical duo arrives, the two form an unlikely bond as they prepare for the school talent show, awakening feelings and talents otherwise dormant. Produced by and co-starring Josh O’Connor (“The Crown, CHALLENGERS) with Jack Davenport (“Smash, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY), BONUS TRACK is a film for anyone who’s ever had a dream…a crush…a burning desire to express themselves. We’re not kidding when we say it’s the loveliest film you’ll see this year.

Centerpiece Two: A MOST ATROCIOUS THING*

World Premiere

Narrative; Christian Hurley & Ben Oliphint; USA: 2024; 75 minutes

When a group of young Chapman University students got creative during the pandemic on a shoestring budget of $5,000, something special was born. A MOST ATROCIOUS THING is that ‘something special,’ a wild and blood-soaked thrill ride that feels like the Please Don’t Destroy gang got in bed with Troma (Lloyd Kaufman even makes a cameo). When a group of friends preparing to step out into adulthood get together for a wild weekend getaway, they make the tragic mistake of eating infected deer meat, thus turning them into crazed, bloodthirsty maniacs. But, while it’s a grisly, feral, ‘atrocious’ affair, it’s also riddled with ample amounts of humor and heart, a tricky tonal accomplishment for any filmmaker. A MOST ATROCIOUS THING is a labor of love from a group of friends who understood the assignment. It’s the type of film we love at Make Believe because it embodies everything we ‘believe’ and everything we are.

Narrative Features
ALL YOU NEED IS BLOOD – directed by Cooper Roberts, West Coast Premiere

AMERICAN MELTDOWN – directed by Andrew Adams, Pacific Northwest Premiere*

ARCADE – directed by Albert Pyun

BLOODY BRIDGET – directed by Richard Elfman, WA State Premiere*

THE CONCIERGE – directed by Yoshimi Itazu, Pacific Northwest Premiere

DICKWEED – directed by Jonathan Ignatius Green, West Coast Premiere

For Night Will Come

FOR NIGHT WILL COME (En attendant la nuit)  – directed by Celine Rouzet, U.S. Premiere

GUNFIGHTER PARADISE – directed by Jethro Waters, West Coast Premiere

GUSH – directed by Fox Maxy, West Coast Premiere

HE NEVER LEFT – directed by James Morris, Pacific Northwest Premiere

THE LONELY MAN WITH THE GHOST MACHINE – directed by Graham Skipper, World Premiere*

LOST SOULZ – directed by Katherine Propper, West Coast Premiere

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES (KIDS MATINEE) – directed by Jack Clayton

Monkeys & Monkeys 2

MONKEYS & MONKEYS 2: FIGHT THE FUTURE – directed by John McGuigan*

PROPERTY – directed by Daniel Bandeira, West Coast Premiere

THE WHEEL OF HEAVEN – directed by Joe Badon, Washington State Premiere

Documentary Features

ALBERT PYUN: KING OF CULT MOVIES – directed by Lisa D’Apolito, West Coast Premiere*

I’M “GEORGE LUCAS”: A CONNOR RATLIFF STORY – directed by Ryan Jacobi, West Coast Premiere*

QUEEN OF THE DEUCE – directed by Valerie Kontakos, Pacific Northwest Premiere

Short Film Programs
DRAWN TO DEATH

DYING IS EASY EMPATHY IS HARD

MAKE BELIEVERS

MASKS WE WEAR

OUR ANCESTORS’ WILDEST

SILENT SCREAM

UNIVERSAL FEAR

UNKNOWN FORCES

WEIRD WILD AND WONDERFUL

Special Events

THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE: A CHRISTIAN APPRECIATION OF HORROR w/ JOSH LARSEN*

THE GEORGE LUCAS TALK SHOW*

OPENING NIGHT YACHT ROCK PARTY

SCREEN DRAFTS LIVE!*

SNICK OR TREAT

Make Believe Seattle is sponsored by MUBI, Fangoria, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Hotel Sorrento, W Seattle, The Stranger, Letterboxd, and C89.5: Seattle’s Home for Dance.

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.