Portland Horror Film Festival™ is a multi-day international festival of terror, bringing horror from around the world to creepy Portland, OR, a tree-filled land with a deep and dark history. We're looking for innovative films in all horror genres, from independent filmmakers, small studios, and students anywhere in the world.
PHFF is one of MovieMaker Magazine’s Top 50 Genre Festivals, and OVER 90% OF OUR SELECTIONS ARE MADE FROM FilmFreeway SUBMISSIONS! Submit with confidence, knowing that (unlike some festivals) nearly our whole show is built on indie submissions and that we fully watch and consider each submitted film.
PORTLAND HORROR FILM FESTIVAL CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL, GENDER, AND ETHNIC DIVERSITY IN HORROR!
We understand the importance of representation of all skin colors on screen and behind the camera. If you are a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color, including Asian and Latinx) filmmaker, there is a new free category for you, but you must first fill out the application form at http://portlandhorror.com/bipoc
Submitted films can be ANY HORROR GENRE, from supernatural to psychological to dark fantasy to blood and guts. Freshness is key. Give us new dark worlds, on the Earth, beneath it, outside it. Give us sunny afternoons filled with dread, nights filled with the unknown. Give us vast vistas of horror, or small moments of fear. (PLUS If your film is particularly LOVECRAFTIAN, we're also the organizers behind the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival® - now in its 27th year - which you can submit to at filmfreeway.com/hplovecraftfilmfestival)
WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
• Fresh scares and films that delve deep in the darkness.
• Horror films that have never had a general release to the public - they shouldn't be commercially available on DVD, or already be on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.
• Films generally less than 2 years old - we'll consider films of any age, but generally want newer horror projects.
•. Films that are (at least) Portland, Oregon premieres.
WHAT ELSE DOES OUR AUDIENCE WANT TO SEE?
• OCCULT HORROR - bring on the devils, demons, and witches!
• MORE MONSTERS! Fun makeup effects, demons and beasties, furry critters, and anything else with a physically monstrous element. Of course, they also love taut horrors of the human mind and bloody killers!
In 2020, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, we became the FIRST all-horror film festival in the USA to stream nationwide! We decided that canceling or postponing indefinitely did no good for filmmakers, and that by streaming we could bring the much needed relief of independent horror cinema straight into the homes of horror fans sheltering-at-home from the virus, at a time when they needed the entertainment the most. It was a very successful show, and we received tremendous praise from both the audience and press for creating an engaging experience that exceeded expectations, and was much more than sitting at home with Netflix.
In 2021 and 2022, we held the festival as a hybrid event with in-person screenings and streaming options. We pride ourselves on being an amazing in-person show in a beautiful historic theater with tons of fun Q&As, live hosting, and other cool events. To continue to serve our audience, we anticipate hosting a festival with both in-person screenings and streaming films in the future.
WHAT DOES 2023 HOLD? Portland theaters have been open for over a year now, and we don’t foresee that changing, but we plan to be nimble, and work with the news as it comes (for example, many larger events continue to require masks in indoor spaces). We expect that our 2023 festival will be both a theatrical and streaming event (with streaming, as before, geo-restricted and limited to paid ticket holders during our festival dates).
Independent Horror is a big deal to us! Horror's grand tapestry channels the cthonic forces underlying all cultures to teach us essential truths about the human condition. No other genre does this so well, so we put horror on a pedestal:
• We know what we're doing - We also direct the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival®, which has been a popular event in Portland for over 27 YEARS! We bring the same attention to detail to Portland Horror Film Festival and to presenting your film on the big screen.
• BIG screen, BIG crowd - Selected films are screened in a grand historic (and haunted) movie palace, with a huge curved 60 ft screen, that holds OVER 350 real horror-loving fans in its comfortable seating (and we nearly SELL OUT those seats every year). We've heard from many filmmakers that they've never seen their film so beautifully projected, on such a big screen, in front of such an engaged audience. This is a real theatrical experience with DCP Projection and 5.1 sound.
• We're not an award factory - All films we select are already at the top of the class, but If you take home one of our few awards, that's because our jury and guest celebrity judges agreed that your film did something PHENOMENAL. Our awards are NOT ABOUT US and promoting our festival. If you win one, it's because YOUR FILM REALLY EARNED IT!
• We're NOT a shill for studios/sponsors - We're not interested in the next franchise horror film, and our screenings can't be bought. We show only films from indie creators and small studios with new ideas, selected primarily from submissions with a tiny handful of invited films. Our fees are among the lowest in the industry, to keep them affordable for everyone, and we give ALMOST NO WAIVERS, because we believe in a level playing field, and it is the submission fees from indie creators that help us create and market a truly valuable showcase of independent horror with a fully thriving audience, without having to rely on sponsors and their agendas.
Independent filmmakers are the lifeblood of the Horror genre. Commercial horror is often stuck in a rut; it's the independent filmmakers who innovate and create new horrific ideas, and who become the new masters of horror. Clive Barker, Wes Craven, Eli Roth, John Carpenter, and many more notable names, all came out of left field with small indie films that changed the face of horror. More than any other genre, horror relies on new filmmakers with new ways to scare us. It's our goal to showcase and foster the next generation.
All the recent films we love right now are so far outside the box, it's hard to even classify them, but they've all given us something new: A Dark Song (Liam Gavin), The Babadook (dir. Jennifer Kent), A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (dir. Ana Lily Amirpour), Kill List (dir. Ben Wheatley), Jug Face (dir. Chad Kinkle), The Witch (Robert Eggers), We Are Still Here (dir. Ted Geoghegan), The Invitation (dir. by Karyn Kusama). Even our favorite classic horrors basically created whole new genres: Hellraiser, Re-Animator, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Prince of Darkness, Near Dark, Hostel, The Blair Witch Project.
MIDDLE EAST FILMMAKERS: Due to US sanctions, most filmmakers from Iran, Iraq, and other countries in the region don't have a way to pay submissions fees, which means it is very hard to get their films seen at most festivals. While PHFF does not condone oppression, gender inequality, or other government-sponsored injustices in many countries, as an International Horror film festival, we believe that the voices of individual filmmakers, especially in the genre of Horror, can teach us lessons about the universality of fear in different cultures, and we are committed to playing HORROR films from all areas of the world. Therefore, filmmakers from these countries (see full country list in the category) may submit their films for free in the "Horror Films from the Middle East ONLY" category. Filmmakers should ensure that they are submitting only films that fit into the HORROR GENRE (فیلم ترسناک , فيلم رعب) .
FILMS ON YOUTUBE, VIMEO, NETFLIX, ETC.: We want to show great films to our audience on a big screen in a historic movie theater, especially films that our audience can't see at home. We fairly consider all submissions, but prefer to give screen time to films that have not been released to the public on YouTube, or other free sites. We recommend that you wait to reveal your masterpiece after it has made its festival appearances. This gives us the best opportunity to attract a large audience that supports indie film in a fantastic setting, and we can more easily promote your film as a premiere, which could lead to great media exposure for you.
Awards will be given in the following categories for 2023:
• Director's Award - The Goule D’or is reserved for that one standout short film and one standout feature film that does everything right; script, direction, cinematography, acting, editing, sound design, and overall impact.
• Jury Award for Best Film - The Main de Gloire celebrates films that are not only great horror but which also use that horror to teach us a lesson about ourselves or our world.
• Bloody Judge Award - to be decided by our guest judge for the 2023 festival! Previous guest judges have included horror icon Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm St., Hellraiser: Judgment), Brian Yuzna (Producer of Re-Animator), Kelli Maroney (Night of the Comet, Chopping Mall), Mick Garris (Hocus Pocus, Nightmare Cinema), Brian Trenchard-Smith (Dead End Drive-in) and Gregg Hale (Producer of The Blair Witch Project).
• Camera de Sang - Best Visual effects and Cinematography.
• Audience Choice Award - Chosen by ballots from our audience.
• Abby Normal Award - for outstanding weirdness.
• Funny Bone Award - for best Horror Comedy.
• Masque Rouge Award - for best performance.
• Best Bumper Award - for the winner of our Portland Horror Bumper Contest.
Each winner will receive an award laurel graphic from the Portland Horror Film Festival, an award certificate, and a FilmFreeway waiver for their next film submission to the PHFF. The Goule D'or and Main de Gloire also receive our coveted spinal horns statuette!
• Only one title per entry.
• Productions not previously screened at the Festival may be submitted.
• Submitted films should have been completed less than 2 years before our festival dates.
• Premiere status, especially in the local Portland area, will be one of the factors considered when determining a film's inclusion in the festival.
• Feature films and short films must not have had any commercial theatrical, television, or internet play in the US, or been released on home media. Please do not submit films that are freely available to the public on YouTube, Vimeo, or similar services.
• By submitting, you're giving us permission to exhibit your film at the festival, and other screenings (like press previews, promotional events, "best of" screenings, etc.), if we select it for exhibition.
• Films submitted in the "Make us a bumper" category must follow several additional rules. Please read the rules in the category description and festival page. Those that don't follow the rules will be disqualified, so be sure you've read and understand each before submitting.
By submitting, you represent and warrant that you have full legal right and authority to submit the film/video project for consideration by PHFF, and that all necessary consents, licensing, and approvals have been obtained with respect thereto. You agree to hold PHFF and its sponsors harmless in any and all matters pertaining to the consents, licenses, and approvals of heretofore film/video project. You understand that your submission is in no way a guarantee of acceptance into PHFF. No one from PHFF or its sponsors has guaranteed you admission into the festival. Should your film be accepted to PHFF, you grant PHFF the right to use any footage from the preview screener, and all submitted publicity photos and any other materials pertaining to this entry for PHFF's promotional non-commercial purposes, without limitations.