Carnival of Darkness: The Haunted Pamlico Film Festival was founded by independent horror filmmakers for independent sci-fi and horror filmmakers and their fans. Our festival runs Sept. 23-25, 2021. Admission to our screenings for the general public is $10 per ticket, payable at the door, though we encourage advance ticket purchases on FilmFreeway.

The festival begins with an invitation-only reception from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Turnage Theater, 150 W. Main St., Washington, N.C.

Live events, including awards ceremonies, an outsider-art exhibit, music, dancing and concessions, will run from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Sept. 24 at Raised in a Barn Farm, 2100 N.C. Highway 33, Chocowinity, N.C. Admission to this event will cost $5 per ticket for the general public, payable at the gate.

Our screenings will be held from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Turnage Theater. Admission for the public costs $10 per ticket. These tickets may be purchased at the door or, beginning July 1, via FilmFreeway. The purchase of a $10 ticket on FilmFreeway gives the bearer access to all of our events on Sept. 24 and Sept. 25.

Note: Per theater policy, masks are required for all patrons and volunteers during our screenings and related events at the Turnage.

The festival organizers wish to honor the most artful short sci-fi and horror films and the people who make them. Our festival is sponsored by many entities, including Haunted Pamlico/Alternative Stage, a developing nonprofit based in Washington, N.C.; Nights of Fright, a haunted attraction in Chocowinity, N.C.; and Raised in a Barn Farm, the property on which Nights of Fright is located. The Haunted Pamlico team behind this event has made dozens of short films, some of which have enjoyed viral success online and have been featured at festivals from Canada to North Carolina.

Our panel of judges includes artists with skills in sound design, special effects, cinematography, screenwriting, film and stage direction and many more areas of interest. For more information, email or see our festival page at Be sure to look for us on Vimeo, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

• Monument Award
• Most Murderous Feature-Length
• Bloodiest Good Short
• Best Kill
• Best Effects
• Sci-Fi
• N.C. Horror
• Outstanding Horror Actor
• Outstanding Sci-fi Actor
• The Director Award
• Honorable Mention

Awards will be presented in the form of certificates, one per filmmaking team. The makers of winning entries, finalist films and official selections will be granted permission to include our 2021 festival logo on promotional materials for their selected films.

1. All entries will be submitted via DVDs or films in formats other than those accepted by FilmFreeway will not be considered. We accept films of most any length. While most of our categories are open to films of various lengths, please note that this event includes specific categories for short and feature-length films. You must provide a digital copy of your film poster for use in publicity for the festival.

2. We will accept submissions from midnight May 1 until midnight Aug. 1.

3. Awards will be publicly announced during the festival in September 2021. Winners will be informed of their awards via email from Sept. 1, 2021 through Sept. 6, 2021. Our email address is Each category will have two finalists, and we will announce these finalists in advance. You may submit films in more than one applicable category, but be advised there is a fee for each submission beyond the early bird period of May 1 through May 7.

4. While filmmakers whose work receives finalist or featured-selection status may publicize that fact prior to the festival, information about winning entries is embargoed until the announcement is made during the awards ceremony at the festival. We will inform winning filmmakers and those whose work achieves featured-selection status during the first week of September to allow time for travel plans. Winning filmmakers may inform cast, crew, friends and family about their award(s), but public announcements of the awards are prohibited before the awards ceremony. Any advance public announcement of awards could result in disqualification. After the festival, we will post news about the winning entries on our website and social-media platforms. Winners may publicize their awards immediately after the ceremony. You needn't be present during the ceremony to receive your award. Please provide us with your email address, phone number and mailing address through FilmFreeway and/or via email,

5. By submitting your film to us, you give us the right to screen your film during the festival. If your film is named a finalist and/or an official selection of the festival, but does not receive an award, it will be shown during the festival barring any unforeseen acts of God, time constraints or technical difficulties. By submitting your film to this festival, you grant us permission to show your film during regular festival hours and/or as part of the pre-show entertainment for the Nights of Fright haunted attraction. In either case, your film has the potential to reach hundreds of people through this event. We will notify filmmakers of the times during which we expect their selected films to run. This notification will go out with private emails regarding awards and/or featured-selection status.

6. We only accept submissions from filmmakers, individuals or production companies holding full legal rights to their work and all of its aspects, including music, stock footage or other elements. We do not accept responsibility for copyright violations that may arise from the fraudulent submission of work to which the entrant doesn't hold the rights.

7. We accept independent films only.

8. We won't consider films made more than three years prior to the beginning of the submission period, May 1, 2021.

9. Films previously screened online or at other venues are eligible for submission, but we encourage submissions from filmmakers who wish to premiere their work during our festival.

10. We discourage submission of films scheduled for public screening in Pitt, Hyde, Martin, Craven, Beaufort or Washington counties in North Carolina during September 2021. The discovery of scheduled screenings at venues in any of these counties during the month of September may be grounds for disqualification.

11. Designation of your film as a featured selection doesn't guarantee award status. Not all entries will be selected for screening. Only official selections or films chosen by the organizers to be shown out of competition will be screened during the festival.

12. Filmmakers whose work is chosen for featured or award-winning status are entitled to two free tickets. All other attendees will be charged $10 per ticket. We will reserve your two tickets and will release them to you at the door. To receive your reserved tickets, you or someone you have designated to represent you must provide identification in the form of a drivers license or other generally accepted ID. Please provide us with the names of your designated attendees in advance by emailing

13. Judging will be conducted by a panel selected by the organizers. Films the judges had a hand in creating will not be featured in competition. The judges will not be publicly identified.

14. Our judges will choose a film or films for the Honorable Mention category. Judges will select films for this category at their discretion. Filmmakers are unable to enter this category voluntarily. The judges will choose honorable mentions from any of the 10 categories which filmmakers may enter by choice via FilmFreeway.

Overall Rating
  • Was bummed that I couldn’t attend but their team posted a ton of pics and updates so it made me feel like I was still part of the festival. All around a great experience!

    October 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thanks so much. We appreciate the support.

  • Piero Cannata

    Wonderful festival. I hope to meet you live, sooner or later. Many thanks to all and best regards!

    October 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thanks for participating. We enjoyed your film.

  • Jeff Buck

    Great Film Festival! Due to Covid-19, event was changed to drive in format. Was great to see our short film on the big screen! Great entertainment before and during screenings with live performances and fire dancers. Also great networking opportunities to see, hear from, and talk with other local and regional folks in film industry. This was our second year attending and can't wait for next year!

    October 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thanks for joining us. Your work made a good addition to the festival. We look forward to seeing more of your films.

  • Jonathan Rorech

    Great festival of fun and terror!

    April 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you. We're working to improve the festival this year. Our goal is to get better each year.

  • Thank you for selecting our short "Hot Dog" and sending the certificate on top of that. Although we weren't able to attend in person, we wish the best for your future events.

    January 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thanks so much. We enjoyed your work.