The 2021 Horrible Imaginings Film Festival will (hopefully) take place September 3 - 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.

Our mission is to explore the history of expressions of anxiety or fear through genre cinema, to amplify artistic voices, and to foster a community of acceptance. We sincerely believe in the sharing and exploring of our deepest fears, desires, and anxieties in a community setting. This festival provides the opportunity to not only explore these emotions but also exorcise them.

Horrible Imaginings Film Festival has been rated among the “Top 100 Best Reviewed Film Festivals” on FilmFreeway. Additionally, MovieMaker Magazine has designated us as one of the “Top 50 Film Festivals Worth The Entry Fee.”

Over the past 11 years, we have shown over 750 genre titles and welcomed over 8,000 attendees.

We are currently re-examining how awards fit into our mission statement. Should we decide to do away with this portion of the festival, I hope that does not impact your decision to submit.

The realities of the 2021 season are still unclear. We now know two things: the threat of COVID-19 is very real and there are some genuine benefits to virtual. The plan is to go back to the cinema by the time Labor Day 2021 comes around, but there is also a lot of talk about a hybrid approach with a supplemental virtual component. Not sure what that will look like at this point, but I will be sure to keep everyone informed! For the time being, we are still not considering premiere status, nor are we immediately disqualifying films available for VOD.

All short film submissions will also be considered for our quarterly CAMPFIRE TALES SERIES.

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
  • Ming Siu Goh

    Miguel, Sterling, and the entire team are superstars! The insane amount of work and love that they put into transitioning the festival to digital and creating a platform for human connection was clear for everyone to see. We loved the conversations we had with fellow filmmakers and audiences alike, and thoroughly enjoyed all the other fantastic films. The whole vibe of the festival was top-notch, and we cannot recommend it highly enough!

    September 2020
  • Adam Grannick

    Great festival, even with the virtual format!

    September 2020
  • India Dupre

    Wow, talk about a passionate film festival! Miguel went above and beyond to make us all feel included and connected even though it was all online. He created a facebook group for the filmmakers and hosted zoom meet ups so we could meet others like we would if the film festival had happened in person. Excellent in every way.

    September 2020
  • Miguel Rodriguez & Team are not only cinema-loving beasts, they are also extremely nice people! Horrible Imaginings is a fun, friendly, and extremely well-organized/executed festival for fans of thrilling, chilling, and mind-bending movie fare!

    September 2020
  • This review is far overdue. You'll be hard-pressed to find someone as passionate about indie films as HIFF founder Miguel Rodriguez. His love for cinema is infectious. I had the extreme good fortune to have a short film be selected in 2016 where I got to attend in person. I had an absolute blast, made many new friends, and saw some incredible films that have stuck with me all these years later. When my second film was selected for the 2020 festival, I witnessed the massive undertaking of bringing a festival of this caliber online (due to the pandemic.) HIFF did not disappoint! From the beautiful online layout showcasing every single film, to the interactive options, to the super fun virtual Q&A's following each block, this was clearly a labor of love. This is the first film festival review I have ever written and I mean every word of it when I say that the team at HIFF deserves a standing ovation. My fellow filmmakers, do yourself a favor and submit your films here. While they obviously cannot accept every film submitted (and this breaks Miguel's heart every year - that's how much he loves what he does!) if you find yourself lucky enough to be a part of this festival you won't regret it. Miguel and Sterling are such a joy to know and HIFF is truly one of the best festivals out there. ★★★★★

    September 2020