Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival Announces Full Programme

    The 15th edition of the Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival, that will be taking place 100% online, is screening 22 feature films and 16 short films. The festival launches a new programme – the Estonian Genre Competition. 

    The organisers of HÕFF are glad that they have managed to keep the screenings of a large majority of the films that were planned before the COVID-19 pandemic that forced most film festivals this spring to be cancelled. According to Helmut Jänes, the head of the festival, the team has been working hard to make the festival more than just a series of online screenings over the course of three days.  

    “Besides screening as much as possible of the originally planned programme, we are putting a lot of effort to convey the festival’s cool atmosphere online, organising a virtual opening ceremony, a virtual parade with a costume competition, Q&A’s, the Méliés short film competition screenings with an international jury and even the very first industry panel of HÕFF with an exciting bunch of international speakers!” Jänes explained. 

    The Main Programme of the festival consists of seven films, kicked off by the critically acclaimed oddball thriller Come to Daddy, directed by Ant Timpson, and starring Elijah Wood who plays a 30-something man visiting his estranged father who lives in a remote seaside cabin. Another acclaimed favourite is the psychological horror film Swallow, directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis, where lead actress Haley Bennett gives a remarkable portrait of a newlywed housewife running into an identity crisis. 

    The programme also features two premieres as HÕFF will screen the international premiere of The Faceless Man, the Australian slasher aka the Ozploitation-genre film will have its international premiere. It's the feature debut of director-writer-co-producer James Di Martino, following a young woman, a recent cancer survivor, and her group of friends, thrown into extraordinary events as they travel to a rural area for the weekend. 

    Also, the Ukrainian esoteric detective thriller Stranger directed by Dmytro Tomashpolskyi will have its European premiere, after having won eight awards at film festivals in Japan, Canada, the USA and Colombia. The story follows a detective studying the cases of a missing synchronized swimming team and a health clinic worker. 

    The Main Programme is rounded off by the fresh director’s cut of Midsommar by director Ari Aster, The Mortuary Collection by Ryan Spindell and Wretched by Brett Pierce and Drew T. Pierce. 

    With the Special Screenings the festival will make three nods to three creative entities: to the recent three-time Academy Award winner Bong Joon Ho with the screening of creature thriller The Host, to director Nabwana IGG and the Ugandan film industry dubbed “Wakaliwood” by screening the first international hit to emerge from there called Who Killed Captain Alex and the Estonian creative unit Õ Fraktsioon, screening their cult classic The Attack of the Killer Beer Yoghurt. 

    The focus: 130 years of H.P Lovecraft  

    The festival will also celebrate the 130th anniversary of the influential sci-fi and horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, screening three films based on his films, including the latest release Color Out of Space

    Considered as one of his favourite works by H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), Color Out of Space is a story about a mysterious meteorite that falls to the lands of a farmer called Gardner and gradually turns their lives into a nightmare. This tale of cosmical horror, one of Lovecraft’s trademarks, was directed by Richard Stanley, known for cult films like the cyberpunk sci-fi Hardware and the road horror Dust Devil, with Nicholas Cage making another outrageous genre performance as the leading character Gardner. 

    The other two films to be screened are Andrew Leman’s The Call of Ctulhu (2005), directed as rediscovered ‘lost silent film’ and Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator (1985), the horror-comedy of a medical student who invents a reagent that can re-animate deceased bodies. 

    The Estonian Genre Competition 

    The inaugural edition of the Estonian Genre Competition will see six films produced or co-produced by Estonian production companies competing for the Best Estonian Genre Film Award. These include Dora Who Came From the Highway by Urmas E. Liiv, whose previous feature film the Ghost Mountaineer screened at the Black Nights First Feature Competition in 2015, Eerie Fairy Tales by Mart Sander, the surreal espionage sci-fi thriller Jesus Will Show You the Way to the Highway by Miguel Llansó and the comedy Chasing Unicorns by Rain Rannu which both screened at the last edition of Black Nights as well, the animated comedy The Old Man Movie by Mikk Mägi and Oskar Lehemaa and the lo-fi crime drama Justice by Toomas Aria. 

    The jury of the competition consists of the high school students of Läänemaa Gymnasium in Haapsalu: Rasmus Valdmann, Katrina Sits, Robin Pae, Pia Margaret Reinberg, Mattias Metsalu. 

    Short films 

    As a member of the European Federation of Fantastic Film Festivals HÕFF continues to host the Méliès Short Film Festival Competition in which six films will compete for the Silver Mélièsi aka Méliès d’Argent´, awarded by an international jury. The jury members are Swedish film producer and Lund Fantastic Film Festival founder Magnus Paulsson, Portuguese director Miguel Llansó and Estonian producer and set designer Helen Lõhmus. 

    The films in competition are Downs of the Dead by director Even Husby Grødahl (Norway), Two Bodies on a Beach by Anna Paavilainen (Finland), The Burden by Nico van den Brink (Netherlands), The Rave by Johannes Magnus Aule (Estonia), Snowflakes by Faye Jackson (United Kingdom), Smiles by Javier Chavanel (Spain). 

    The second short film programme, titled the Little Nightmares, is a best-of selection of films that have already screened at various festivals around the world.  

    Information on the topics and speakers of the industry panel will be announced via a separate press release.

    Ticket sale will begin on the 1st of May.

    Although the festival is publicly geographically limited, we encourage all journalists to contact the press department to mediate communication with the film’s representatives for screener links for potential reviews.


    The festival homepage
    The film viewing platform - will open publicly tomorrow
    HÕFF's Facebook page
    The festival's opening event page (Facebook)


    Main Programme 
    The Faceless Man, 2019, director: James Di Martino 
    The Mortuary Collection, 2019, director: Ryan Spindell  
    Come to Daddy, 2019, director: Ant Timpson 
    Stranger, 2019, director: Dmytro Tomashpolskyi 
    Swallow, 2019, director: Carlo Mirabella-Davis 
    Wretched, 2019, directors: Brett Pierce, Drew T. Pierce. 
    Midsommar: Director’s Cut, 2019, director: Ari Aster 
    Freak programme 
    Mutant Blast, 2018, director: Fernando Alle 
    VHYes, 2019, director: Jack Henry Robbins 
    Corona Zombies, 2020, director Charles Band 
    The Sword and the Claw, 1975, director Natuk Baytan 
    Special Screenings 
    The Attack of the Killer Beer Yoghurt, 2001, directors: Raul Allikivi, Kaaren Kaer, Andres Korberg, Tõnis Leht, Lauri Lippmaa, Erik Moora 
    The Host, 2003, director: Bong Joon Ho 
    Who Killed Captain Alex, 2010, director: Nabwana IGG 
    Focus: 130 years of H.P. Lovecraft 
    Re-Animator, 1986, director: Stuart Gordon 
    Call of Cthulhu, 2005, director: Andrew Leman 
    Color Out of Space, 2019, director: Richard Stanley 

    Estonian Genre Film Competition 
    Dora Who Came From the Highway, 2019 director: Urmas E. Liiv 
    Eerie Fairy Tales, 2019, director: Mart Sander 
    The Old Man Movie, 2019, directors: Oskar Lehemaa, Mikk Mägi 
    Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway, 2019, director: Miguel Llansó 
    Justice, 2019, director: Toomas Aria 
    Chasing Unicorns, 2019, director: Rain Rannu 


    Méliès Short Film Festival Competition 
    Downs of the Dead, Norway, director: Even Husby Grødahl 
    Two Bodies on a Beach, Finland, director: Anna Paavilainen 
    The Burden, Netherlands, director: Nico van den Brink 
    The Rave, Estonia, director: Johannes Magnus Aule 
    Snowflakes, United Kingdom, director: Faye Jackson 
    Smiles, Spain, director: Javier Chavanel 

    Little Nightmares 
    Exit, Russia, director: Ivan Basov 
    Unholy 'Mole, USA director: David Bornstein 
    Intrusion, France, director:  Maxime Sévellec 
    The Haunted Swordsman, USA, director: Kevin McTurk 
    Plainsong, Canada, director: Alexis Fortier Gauthier 
    Mannequins, Russia, director: Maksim Noginov 
    Moment, Canada, director: Geoffrey Uloth  

    Dates of the Q&A’s 

    Mutant Blast – Fernando Alle USA 
    Call of Cthulhu Andrew Leman USA
    The Mortuary Collection Ryan Spindell USA
    Eerie Fairy Tales Mart Sander

    The Faceless Man  James Di Martino Australia
    Chasing Unicorns Rain Rannu Estonia

    Stranger Dmitriy Tomashpolski Ukraine
    VHYes Jack Henry Robbins USA


    Film still: The Faceless Man

    Film still: Stranger

    Film still: Come to Daddy

    A scene that will be impossible this year: fans at a physical HÕFF screening