The 13th Annual Horrible Imaginings Film Festival will return to The Frida Cinema on September 1- 4, 2022! As has been

The 2021 Horrible Imaginings Film Festival will be a HYBRID event that takes place in person September 2 - 5 at The Frida Cinema in Santa Ana, CA.

Established in 2009, the annual Horrible Imaginings Film Festival showcases the newest voices in horror, sci-fi, and fantasy genre cinema over a multi-day event that consists of film screenings, diverse panels, parties, and networking sessions.

Horrible Imaginings Film Festival has been rated among the “Top 100 Best Reviewed Film Festivals” on FilmFreeway for several years running. Additionally, MovieMaker Magazine has designated us as one of the “Top 50 Film Festivals Worth The Entry Fee,” one of the "Top 30 Bloody Best Genre Festivals," and one of the "World's 50 Best Genre Festivals." Last year, landmark horror site Dread Central named us one of "The Best Horror Festivals in the World!"

Horrible Imaginings Film Festival strives to provide a home to artistic expressions of fear, anxiety, taboo, outré, or other potentially uncomfortable emotions or experiences. This home is an agora where the whole ecosystem of this community—artist, audience, media, and business—converge on equal footing for a mutual exploration of art that can be challenging or even confrontational.

🔭 Vision
Our Vision is to explore past works, discover emerging artists, cultivate student creators, and amplify the voices in genre cinema & art that foster challenging conversations, grow communities, and, ultimately, build empathy and action toward a better, more equitable, and more sustainable world.

⚖️ Values:

1. Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Other Genre Art is a Vehicle for Change
We believe that the types of genre we curate acts as a gateway into the emotions, fears, anxieties, and values of other people. We also believe that the emotions expressed by horror are especially central to who we are at our most primal, and thusly, most honest. As a popular form of art and entertainment, genre cinema and art also has the potential to reach a much wider audience with sub-textual notions that challenge or question. Entertainment CAN be Enlightenment. Exhilaration CAN be Thoughtful. Trash CAN be Treasure.

2. Comparing AND Contrasting Are Important
We believe that our disagreements can be as interesting to discuss as our agreements. We believe that cultural differences and experiences should acknowledged and celebrated. We believe that simultaneously acknowledging differences while discovering similarities is what builds empathy amongst different people—particularly with emotions as potent as fear.

For this reason amongst many, REPRESENTATION MATTERS. We are committed to showcasing a multitude of voices from different cultures, subcultures, experiences, gender identities, and abilities.

3. Purpose and Intention
We believe the art we curate has some value as a mirror to our everyday struggles. Discovering that value is central to our mission. Identifying the purpose or intent of a work of art is sometimes counter to its affect on an audience. This is part of the conversation and key to the consideration. The artist is only 50% of the conversation...

4. Defying Expectations
We believe that horror, often thought of as a vehicle for cruelty, is actually a vehicle for empathy. We believe that being transgressive can be utilized to foster progressive ideas and open-mindedness.

We believe that the traditional expectations for certain genre marketing definitions are secondary to purpose and intent.

We believe that art considered "trash," "pop" or "schlock" is actually an acute view into a particular zeitgeist.

5. Horror is PERSONAL
Horror and other dark or macabre genre expression is deeply personal. It is why horror lovers are so committed to it. It is why people who dislike horror are often committed to destroying it or antagonizing the people who love it. These stories touch nerves and approach the core of what we as humans often try to keep secret. It is also why, even amongst strident horror enthusiasts, there are so many debates about what is or isn't horror or what is or isn't scary. Everything is dependent on the baggage and experiences of the viewer: personal baggage, cultural baggage, and more.

6. Taboos and Mores Should be Questioned
Cultural taboos and mores are often tools of the oppressor. Art that calls them into question is something we find worthy of discussion, empowering for the voiceless, and potentially a means to build bridges.

7. Empathy is Not an End, but a Means
We believe that empathy without action is almost valueless. Bringing people together and building bridges where mutual humanity is recognized is merely the first step. Through programs, panels, and partnerships, we aim to contribute to a better, more equitable, and more sustainable world.

Best Score (short)
Best Score (feature)
Best Effects (short)
Best Effects (feature)
Best Cinematography (short)
Best Cinematography (feature)
Best Production Design (short)
Best Production Design (feature)
Best Screenplay (short)
Best Screenplay (feature)
Best Actor (short)
Best Actor (feature)
Best Actress (short)
Best Actress (feature)
Best Director (short)
Best Director (feature)
Best Animated
Funniest Horror Comedy
Best Monster Show
Best Dramatic Horror
Best Youth & Student (under 17)
Best Youth & Student (adult)
Best Local Work
Best Feature Film

Non English-language films must be subtitled in English.

We do accept exemplary older films, but only films completed after December 31, 2018 will be in consideration for awards.

Incomplete films (missing score, soundtrack, color correction, etc.) may be submitted for consideration so long as they are clearly marked as incomplete. Incomplete films must be finished by August 10, 2021.

All submissions must be made via FilmFreeway. This ensures that your film receives proper attention and consideration by the Selection Committee.

All submissions for consideration must be made available via a private online screener link (no physical screeners will be accepted or viewed).

Selected films must be received by the festival no later than August 10, 2021.

Overall Rating
  • Robyn August

    Honored to have our short film "Cupcake" place in HIFF film festival 2021. Sterling and Miguel were very quick and friendly with communication and it was the only festival I could attend in person so I had a lot of fun. Would submit again!

    February 2022
  • Bummed that i couldn't make it to the QnA and meet everyone, but nevertheless thanks for having Rong! HI crews always made sure i was well-informed and felt included. I hope i'll get to attend the festival myself one day.

    November 2021
  • Amazing
    Thank you so much for the amazing opportunity

    September 2021
  • I couldn't attend the festival because I live in NY and I had a crazy busy week but I really wish I did because it looks a lot of fun! The communication was nothing less then stellar! Sterling and the HIFF team truly go above and beyond to bring you the festival experience even if you can't attend. Can't wait to attend in future editions!

    September 2021
  • Dan "Laz" Lazarovits

    Horrible Imaginings is such a wonderful festival, run by hard-working people that are professional, communicative and really love horror. Miguel, Sterling and the whole festival crew went out of their way to make the filmmakers’ dreams come true. I can’t say enough about how great this experience was and hope more storytellers and horror fans get to experience it for themselves.

    September 2021