Atlanta’s Fabrefaction Theatre is recessed in a small shopping center on Edgewood Avenue, virtually invisible from the street. This is the home of the 9th Annual Buried Alive Film Festival (or BAFF). The Fabrefaction is not a “movie theater” but a “theatre theater,” which makes it a curious venue choice of an independent horror film festival. But it works.
Divorced from the anonymity of cavernous screening rooms, stadium seating and jumbo screens, the accouterments of the Fabrefaction are cozy and inviting. Well, considering that this is a venue offering mounted, chainsaw-mutilated faces as awards and adorned inside with chain link fences plastered with gruesome horror one-sheets of films titled “Angst, Piss and Shit” and “Dead Fuck,” inviting might be a relative term.
Entering the screening room mid-programming feels like entering a haunted house. Groping along a pitch-black hallway coupled with the ominous soundtrack of the current film, you can’t help but expect a knife-wielding clown to jump out at you. But once inside, the atmosphere changes. The space is small, intimate and populated largely with cast and crewmembers of the programmed films. These are peers, co-workers and friends gathered together to watch the product of months, years (and in the case of the 48 Hour Film Project entries, days) worth of work. There is a communal mood about the festival. Watching horror movies in the dark and sipping Hoplanta beer makes you feel like you’re hanging out in a friend’s living room. This isn’t the sort of slick festival where industry bigwigs bid aggressively for distribution rights, this is the sort of festival with genre fans freely mingling with filmmakers, conversational Q&As and lots of local networking opportunities. BAFF even offers an opening night party at Joystick Game Bar geared toward such mingling.
The films were organized into blocks of shorts and features averaging between 80-to-90 minutes. The blocks are arranged by themes like “Healthy Relationships” and “Scary Animal Monsters from Outer Space.” Film festival programming, by nature, can’t help but be hit-or-miss and a festival specializing in a genre known for trending toward cheap exploitation runs an even higher risk of doing so. However the event organizers, Blake Myers and Lucas Godfrey, did an excellent job in the selection process. The films ranged from creepy documentaries to gore-ridden cerebral shorts to gleefully campy and over-the-top features, but none that felt like shoddy filler.
There is not a lot of love or quality of horror at the box office, but BAFF thankfully fills that void. BAFF is a great place for local filmmaker to see each others work and talk shop, and getting to see strange gems like “Extreme Pinocchio” and local premieres like “Satanic Panic 2: Battle of the Bands” (the first Satanic Panic can be seen here online) is a treat for horror fans. Dropping $10 per block of programming (or $50 for an all access pass) ensures a better bargain than shelling out $12 to see the newest horror franchise reboot/prequel/swill. BAFF may be a smaller festival, but it is a quality one. Hopefully it will continue to scare film lovers for many more years to come.
Winners of the 9th Annual Buried Alive Splitzy Awards
Best Feature: “The Sunderland Experiment”
Directed by: Sean Blau and Adam Petke
Best Short: “The Bear Family Secret”
Directed by: Cintia Domit Bittar
Best Animation: “Fists of Fire”
Directed by: Tomi Malkki
“What The Fuck” Award: “Split”
Directed by: Andy Stewart
Best Local “Golden Shovel” Award: “Hellyfish”
Directed by: Patrick Longstreth and Robert McLean
Local Runner-Up “Silver Spade” Award: “Goat Witch”
Directed by: James Sizemore