With an incredibly successful inaugural year behind them, Igor Shteyrenberg and Marc Ferman have been busy at work keeping the Popcorn Frights Film Festival going year-round. It’s been a busy series of months, full of screenings — including some free ones — for genre fans looking to enjoy some classics and new releases. But now comes the second annual fest, expanded to almost a week and featuring more movies than the previous year.
“Our Festival is run by fans, for fans, and truly of the spirit our fans share for genre films,” Shteyrenberg explains. “With our year-round film program, we pay tribute to both classical and contemporary cinema; to both genre films and auteur films.”
“If something really stands out to us,” Ferman adds, “we want to always be able to share it with South Florida, so no one misses out on a great film experience.”
In their second year, the lineup has bounced up from four feature films to 16, four times the amount and with some higher-profile choices to boot. Opening night kicks off with Fear, Inc. and The Blackcoat’s Daughter, and the festival continues with some inspired choices like Evolution and Antibirth, which fall outside of the realm of typical horror fare in their artistry. There’s also an abundance of short films in the mix this year, though the programmers, who both bring experience from other local film festivals and repertory film events, say it was tough to limit themselves to just the amount they had received.
“We experienced a huge and unexpected increase in film submissions and had the difficult task of narrowing the selection down to 16 feature and 17 short films for this year’s showcase,” Shteyrenberg says. “As the Festival continues to have a broader and broader profile, we must imagine its programming and platform will inevitably have to increase as well.”
The pair are just as enthusiastic about their selection as their audience should be. When asked about their favorite films in the series, each responded with two different films. Ferman offered up Carnage Park and I Am Not A Serial Killer as his two, claiming, “They’ll blow you away and remind you that there’s still a world of discovery and surprises in store in horror films!”
As for Shteyrenberg, his top two are Evolution and Under the Shadow. The former is a film he considers a “visually lush, eerily enigmatic, haunting and hypnotic fairy tale as if imagined by Lynch or Cronenberg.” The latter, he calls “one of the few horror films that will twist and turn into your subconscious and keep you up at night.”
Moving the festival from October to August (taking place from the 12th to the 18th) has opened up their options even more. “We want to give our community the most inclusive and accessible experience possible, and mid-August seemed the best fit for this realization,” Shteyrenberg continues.
While the options were limited in October, the festival still sold out every single one of its showings, last year. Ferman explains how the pair look at their first year as a beta test of sorts. “We wanted to present a full-on film festival, but we had to prove to not only ourselves but to the organizations, distributors and filmmakers we work with that South Florida would support such a dedicated genre film event,” he elaborates.
It’s always curious how two minds work with and against each other when they have differing tastes, and Shteyrenberg and Ferman come from two very different sides of the film world. In addition to running Popcorn Frights and being horror fans themselves, Shteyrenberg is also the director of the Miami Jewish Film Festival and Ferman is a South Florida film critic who also hosts Popcorn Nights events at O Cinema.
When asked about their dynamic, Ferman admits, “When it comes to our film taste, we’re the true odd couple, it’s safe to say! However, we do agree that a proper film festival must consist of variety, and the compliment of each of our perspectives certainly offers the best of all worlds in genre cinema.”
Though the curtain has yet to rise on the second edition of the festival, Shteyrenberg already has high hopes for what will happen in the years to come. “Expanding our platform to activate masterclasses, seminars and providing more access to industry professionals is a priority for our festival’s development. Connecting emerging filmmakers with the industry is a great way for Popcorn Frights to both deepen and expand our relationships with the most exciting, and in many cases, as yet undiscovered, new voices in world cinema.”
Trailer for the fest (WARNING: It may be too intense for some viewers):
The Popcorn Frights Film Festival takes place Aug. 12-18 at O Cinema Wynwood. Tickets and festival badges go on sale Friday, June 17, and can be purchased at popcornfrights.com. The full festival line-up can also be seen at the site. All images courtesy of Popcorn Frights. Credits from top to bottom: The Barn, Antibirth, Carnage Park and The Blackcoat’s Daughter.