Thursday, July 19, 2012

#guest Paul Blom, SA HorrorFest organiser

Paul Blom and Sonja Ruppersberg
Picture: Thomas Dorma

Today I welcome Paul Blom who, with Sonja Ruppersberg, is responsible for bringing the South African HorrorFest to us each year. He's stopped by for a little Q&A. And if you're curious about our SA HorrorFest Bloody Parchment anthology, do go check out issue one (a free download off Goodreads) or our latest anthology, brought out with eKhaya (links on RHS, click through on cover art).

For submission guidelines for this year's short story competition, go here.

ND: Does horror have a place in a country where so many horrifying things happen on the news daily?

PB: It does indeed, because horror, fantasy and sci-fi is entertainment, not reality, and self-appointed moral judges far too often blur this line for their own benefit. Some people prefer to be invigorated by their entertainment. Suspense, scares and (benign) peril in a movie theatre or in front of your home entertainment system can actually have a beneficial cathartic effect, exorcising the demon of everyday life and the real horror out there (as opposed to regurgitated soap opera themes, people airing their dirty laundry on reality shows or dreary politically driven drama in a South African context - these all have their place, but one needs a diversion).

ND: How has SA HorrorFest grown over the years?

PB: The South African HorrorFest started as a big idea on a small scale. There is no Halloween tradition in South Africa, and Horror culture is not in the foreground. As movie-makers and musicians leaning towards the alternative end of the spectrum, we felt compelled to create this event for the other neglected fans out there. It started as a weekend film festival at The Labia Theatre in Cape Town, and has expanded to a 10 day event with feature- and short films submitted from around the globe (far too many to fit into the schedule). It has expanded to have our Shadow Realm, Inc. on-line literature chapter Bloody Parchment materialize into a live fiction reading event, short story competition and short story anthology releases. The live movie soundtrack performance to a classic silent film by The Makabra Ensemble is also one of the unique highlights. From the start we encouraged local movie-makers to create something exciting and utilize this sole platform, and have inspired many to pick up a camera. Each year the awareness of the event grows exponentially.

ND: What can folks expect from SA HorrorFest this year?

PB: Another batch of rare, strange, exciting and outrageous movies and short films they won't get to see in any SA cinema; the return of the Alternative Market we test-drove last year; we'll again be linking up with the Cape Town Zombie Walk; (if enough sponsors come on board) we're flying a prominent writer / producer / director in from the USA; and there are a few plans in the works which we can only announce once they've been confirmed - all updates can be found at the official website or at the Facebook group.

ND: What sort of submissions would you like to see, both in film and fiction for this year's fest?

PB: We like diversity. The great thing about the horror genre is you can tag it to any sub-genre, from comedy to sci-fi. Innovative, fresh and original ideas get the most attention, and while a mere re-hash of well-trodden ground is not preferred, timeless themes and techniques are still relevant.

ND: Where do you see the fest going in the foreseeable future?

PB: The Makabra Ensemble has reached beyond Cape Town by playing two of the live movie soundtracks at the 2009 and 2010 Oppi Koppi festival, but we plan on expanding the entire event to other parts of the country - this is dependent on logistical execution and sponsorship expansion. Nosferatu has been released on DVD with its new soundtrack, but we also plan on releasing all of those enhanced classics, and aim to release Shadow Realm DVD collections of the best short films submissions from around the world across the festival's history (incl. local productions).

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