The Buried Alive Film Festival keeps screaming in its Ninth Year

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.

Best-Feature

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.

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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.

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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

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Best Feature: “The Sunderland Experiment”
Directed by: Sean Blau and Adam Petke

http://youtu.be/w0pCF31iZzo

 

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

You can read reviews of some of the winners here.

Ninth Annual BAFF winner movie reviews

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“What The Fuck” Award: “Split”
Directed by: Andy Stewart
Runtime: 17 minutes

 

Based on his body of work, Glasgow’s Andy Stewart is a fascinating filmmaker, but maybe not the type of guy you’d want to have a beer with. His debut film, “Dysmorphia,” also screened at BAFF in 2013 and quickly earned Stewart a reputation as one sick monkey. His newest short, “Split,” does nothing to dispel this reputation, but adds an impressive amount of depth to his steadily growing filmography.

“Split” chronicles a man’s depression following a nasty breakup. Easily going toe-to-toe with masters like David Cronenburg, Stewart uses his knack for graphic body horror as a gruesome visual simile for the protagonist’s mental state. As the protagonist falls further into depression, his body steadily degrades into mucus and puss covered decay. Even at 17 minutes, it’s a hard film to watch and it clearly deserves the BAFF 2014 “What the Fuck” award.

You can learn more about Andy Stewart and “Split” at the film’s official website.

 


 

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Best Local “Golden Shovel” Award: “Hellyfish”
Directed by: Patrick Longstreth and Robert McLean
Runtime: 13 minutes
Website:
Trailer: https://vimeo.com/100958041
Full Movie embed: http://youtu.be/nrmziUUzNrI

 

“Hellyfish” boasts a surprisingly slick production quality for a small, locally crafted independent project. The film is overflowing with enough CG monsters and digital gore to rival the likes of “Piranha” and “Anaconda.” The plot is no less campy than those films either. A couple of terrorist spies attempt to recover a nuclear weapon at the bottom of the ocean but accidentally trigger the bomb instead, setting off a Jellyocalypse at a nearby beach.

Directors Patrick Longstreth and Robert McLean have an obvious adoration of goofy creature features and “Hellyfish” is more a gleeful homage than a smirking satire. The film may be light on substance, but it makes up for the shallowness in sheer spectacle. “Hellyfish” was definitely a standout entry at this year’s BAFF.

You can learn more about “Hellyfish” at the official website and you can see the full movie below.

http://youtu.be/nrmziUUzNrI

 


 

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Local Runner-Up “Silver Spade” Award: “Goat Witch”
Directed by: James Sizemore
Runtime: 13 minutes

 

“Goat Witch” may have only taken home the “Silver Spade” at the 2014 BAFF, but it was undeniably one of the best films of the festival. Director James Sizemore’s short is creepy, well acted and filled with jaw-dropping practical effects. Labeling a film as “independent” normally carries the stigma of being cheaply made, but “Goat Witch” is a professional and quality production that overshadows most of Hollywood’s schlocky horror.

The set up is simple enough. A witch looking to transcend the physical plain ropes her lesbian lover into participating in a satanic ritual that becomes far more serious than anticipated. Sizemore doesn’t pull any punches, rolling out horrifying, DelToro level beasties and even a little dark humor. “Goat Witch” is the sort of film you go to film festivals hoping for.

You can see the full film here and the “making of” video below.

http://youtu.be/y7YASRNu0oU