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Get ready for an unforgettable four-day genre celebration with exciting new audience experiences at the 2023 Nightmares Film Festival.


Is anything better than the film festival season? We’re so excited that one of our absolute favorites is gearing up for its stacked 2023 program.

Nightmares Film Festival, FilmFreeway’s #1-ranked genre fest, revealed this year’s program aimed at celebrating its mantra: #BetterHorror. Now in its eighth year, the fest is building even more community beyond the screen by adding new live experiences to its heralded film and screenplay slate.

The four-day Nightmare program once again delivers a must-see lineup collected from new and beloved genre voices around the world, with highlights including the boundary-smashing queer coming-of-age midnighter The People’s Joker, notoriously pulled from TIFF; the world premiere of Zac Locke’s (#Float) psychological Christmas horror Santa Isn’t Real; the U.S. premiere of Stewart Sparke’s (Book of Monsters) classic-creature horror comedy How to Kill Monsters; horror comedy anthology Cryptids, featuring The Last Drive-In’s Joe Bob Briggs; and nightmare fuel Abruptio, a descent into madness created entirely with lifelike puppets.


In all, the NFF will present 17 feature films and more than 150 horror, thriller, midnight, horror comedy, and documentary shorts – including themed blocks like werewolf shorts hour Hairy Situations, holiday shorts hour Slay Ride, and the alumni Recurring Nightmares blocks – while honoring 22 feature and short script finalists and returning its anticipated annual interactive panels, Social Progress Through Horror and The New Distribution.

But according to NFF co-founders Jason Tostevin and Chris Hamel, that wasn’t enough.

“NFF has become known just as much for the camaraderie and welcoming community it creates as for our extraordinary genre lineup,” they said in a statement.

“This year, we wanted to build on those connections by bringing our audience together for fun, unique experiences that let  them celebrate horror and one another.”

The Friday night live experience is Nightmare Trivia, created exclusively for Nightmares and composed of horror-themed songs and movie clips.

Santa Isn’t Real

On Saturday, the fest welcomes horror host Aurora Gorealis for the Shocktail Hour Halloween Mixtape, with lost horror video segments and Aurora’s Tournament of Terror game show. And Sunday’s live experience is a hands-on workshop on pitching your film to the press with New York Times horror reviewer Erik Piepenburg.

All NFF live experiences are free to badge holders.

A complete initial schedule (subject to minor changes) and a list of selections and screenplays are available here.

The festival once again takes place at the legendary independent Gateway Film Center.


This top-five North American art house (Sundance) features one of the last dedicated projection teams in the country.

Upgrading the already standout on-site experience this year is the film center’s remodeled and expanded overlook festival lounge, where VIP badge holders can hang out with creators while enjoying a private bar and restrooms, a new kitchen menu, and a private entrance to both festival auditoriums.

Competition films and screenplays vie for a coveted Night Mare statuette, representing the dark horses of the genre. The Night Mare is sculpted and painted by renowned toy and figure creator Tony Simione (Marvel, Star Wars, Godzilla, Alien).

A limited set of VIP badges is now available for purchase through Gateway Film Center’s website while they last. Tickets for individual screenings will be available beginning Friday, Oct. 13.

The People’s Joker

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