Make Believe Seattle Film Festival 2023 [In-Person Only]
Ticketing, concessions, cinemas, restrooms, and our public edit lab are located on Northwest Film Forum’s ground floor, which is wheelchair accessible. All doors in Northwest Film Forum are non-motorized, and may require staff assistance to open. Our upstairs workshop room is not wheelchair accessible.
The majority of seats in our main cinema are 21″ wide from armrest to armrest; some seats are 19″ wide. We are working on creating the option of removable armrests!
We have a limited number of assistive listening devices available for programs hosted in our larger theater, Cinema 1. These devices are maintained by the Technical Director, and can be requested at the ticketing and concessions counter. Also available at the front desk is a Sensory Kit you can borrow, which includes a Communication Card, noise-reducing headphones, and fidget toys.
The Forum does NOT have assistive devices for the visually impaired, and is not (yet) a scent-free venue. Our commitment to increasing access for our audiences is ongoing, and we welcome all public input on the subject!
If you have additional specific questions about accessibility at our venue, please contact our Patron Services Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our phone number (206-329-2629) is voicemail-only, but we check it often.
Made possible due to a grant from Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, in partnership with Sensory Access, our Sensory Access document presents a visual and descriptive walk-through of the NWFF space. View it in advance of attending an in-person event at bit.ly/nwffsocialnarrativepdf, in order to prepare yourself for the experience.
NWFF patrons will be required to wear masks that cover both nose and mouth while in the building. Disposable masks are available at the door for those who need them. We are not currently checking vaccination cards. Recent variants of COVID-19 readily infect and spread between individuals regardless of vaccination status.
Read more about NWFF’s policies regarding cleaning, masks, and capacity limitations here.
March 23-26, 2023
About the Festival:
Located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, MAKE BELIEVE SEATTLE is an imagination-focused genre festival that’s dedicated to shining a light on the best in genre cinema, while also expanding the definition of what “genre” means for a new generation of cinephiles.
Make Believe’s diverse, unpredictable programming, fueled by the mysterious and fantastical energy that courses through the veins of the Pacific Northwest, aims to take even the most ardent genre fans out of their comfort zones. Let’s make believe…together.
Make Believe Seattle is fiscally sponsored by FRACTURED ATLAS and operates as a 501(c)3 non-profit entity.
Click each showtime/title for tickets + info!
(Jason Brooks, US, 2022, 108 min, narrative)
A continuation of Friday the 13th: Vengeance, this unauthorized fan film is about as good as you get in terms of quality, execution, and attention to detail. Starring C.J. Graham (Friday the 14th Part VI: Jason Lives), Thom Mathews (“Tommy Jarvis” himself), Tom McLaughlin, and more. This epic conclusion of the Tommy Jarvis storyline follows his daughters, Angelica and Ashley, as they search for their dad while attempting to evade the father of Jason Voorhees, Elias, who has sinister plans for the duo. This homegrown horror hit will be preceded by a refresher on the entirety of the Tommy Jarvis storyline.
Co-presented by c89.5: Seattle’s home for dance
(Jake Von Wagoner, US, 2023, 86 min, narrative)
Aspiring teenage journalist Itsy is miserable when her family moves to the small town of Pebble Falls. Among the new challenges — a fixer-upper house and unfriendly high schoolers, to name a few — Itsy meets Calvin, her strange, space-obsessed neighbor and classmate. Itsy befriends Calvin in hopes of writing an exposé on the oddball for a summer internship back in New York City, but she soon discovers that the amateur astronaut has an out-of-this-world secret. Calvin believes his parents were abducted by aliens, and it’s his mission to find and join them in outer space. As they endeavor to uncover the truth, the pair of outsiders foster a surprising and heartwarming friendship.
Starring Will Forte (MacGruber) and Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost), this wild and wonderful family film world premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival before making its way directly to The Emerald City.
We’ll have your favorite slasher films playing the entire night, and you’re encouraged to dress up as your favorite horror movie killer. The DJ will be spinning some deep, dark jams, and every now and again someone might just go…missing. We’ll have prizes for the best costumes, and Century Ballroom’s cash bar will be open and ready. Included in festival passes and opening night ticket, or with a party pass. $10 walk-up tickets available.
(84 min. TRT)
In this genre-diverse block, each films deals with characters who are being pursued by something whether it’s a literal killer in the flesh, or something more sinister in the mind. Programmed by Make Believe Seattle.
Films in this program:
(Zoey Martinson, 2022, 10 min)
A man under house arrest starts to realize he might not be alone.
(Sander van Dijk, 2022, 11 min)
An anxiety-ridden man meets his friend for dinner in a shadowy restaurant to share a dark suspicion. At first, his friend doesn’t believe him, tries to convince the man there’s nothing going on. But the further they get into their midnight conversation, the more they both begin to fear: something about this evening isn’t quite right.
(Michael Thomas Goyert, 2022, 21 min)
An aging man searches for his missing son in the remote backwoods of the Pacific Northwest.
(Samuel Davis, 2022, 8 min)
A deer hunter is followed by a red light.
(Inga Elin Marakatt, 2022, 19 min)
A pregnant widow steals silver from a dead body in order to survive and feed her daughter. But the silver is cursed and has consequences for all of them, including the unborn.
(Elise Huyssen, 2022, 15 min)
Suffering from Alzheimer’s, a pensioner is facing his caregiver going mysteriously missing. Confused, he looks for her in his nursing home’s hallways but he is prey to disturbing apparitions.
Co-presented by Seattle Queer Film Festival!
(Daniel Montgomery, US, 2022, 72 min, narrative)
A heartbroken young man finds himself trapped in a remote rental with two lonely souls. This unique blend of comedy, horror, and drama showcases the imagination that was required to shoot during the pandemic, without losing a sense of scale and grandeur. Starring Chase Williamson (John Dies at the End) and Daniel Montgomery (Southern Baptist Sissies).
Co-presented with Seattle Gay Scene!
IMAGINATION AWARD (6:30pm)
Filmmaker Guy Maddin has been pushing boundaries for decades with his unique blend of genres and forms, creating works that are equal parts fiction and non, creating worlds that defy the imagination yet seem all too human. Guy joins us to receive the inaugural Make Believe Imagination Award, and to discuss his work and career before an archival 30th anniversary screening of one of his most singular visions, the 1992 film Careful. Additionally, Guy has helped us program a shorts block featuring some of his most acclaimed projects.
CAREFUL: 30TH ANNIVERSARY SCREENING (7:30pm)
Turning 30 is none other than Guy Maddin’s 1992 classic Careful, which remains the perfect showcase for his blend of realism and fantasy. The wary residents of a 19th century mountain village must tread carefully and speak softly lest they cause an avalanche. Sexual frenzies teem in this world of repression, setting off incestuous love triangles with deadly consequences. Guy joins us beforehand to accept our inaugural Imagination Award, and to discuss his decades-long career in a business that doesn’t always reward the weird, wild, and wonderful.
(Michael Joseph McQuilken, US, 2022, 68 min, narrative)
Using dance, industrial rock, classic string quartet, and opera, Black Lodge takes viewers through a Lynchian psychological escape room, somewhere between death and rebirth, where a tormented writer faces down demons of his own making while mining fractured and repressed memories for a way out. Inspired by the complicated mythology of surrealistic writer William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch), the film questions what it ultimately takes to face ourselves.
(Malik Zenger, Kazakhstan, 2022, short)
Kogershin is a story about kids playing cardboard wars. Innocent child’s play shows the whole tragedy of humanity and a call for peace.
(Oscar Harding, United Kingdom, 2022, 75 min)
When filmmaker Oscar Harding’s grandfather passed away in the rural English county of Somerset, his family inherited an extraordinary video tape – a feature-length home movie from neighbor Charles Carson, which can best be described as Monty Python meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Charles’s life and work are examined by those who knew him best, as well as a whole new generation of fans inspired by his legacy.
Join us for a very special evening of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy movie trivia with Cinephile Game Night at Make Believe Seattle. Hosted by Cinephile: A Card Game creator Cory Everett and The Film Stage co-founder Dan Mecca, the event will feature special guests from the Screen Drafts and Colors of the Dark podcasts and include multiple trivia rounds along to see who is the ultimate cinephile. With chances to win tickets, prizes, and more, this is sure to be one of the can’t-miss events of the festival. There’s no need to bring Cinephile to participate––only your movie-loving brain is required.
This venue is of limited size, so please make sure to arrive early in order to claim a seat and participate in the trivia.
(84 min. TRT)
Your home for the most wickedly clever, baffling, hilarious, and unexpected stories that burrow their way into your subconscious, refusing to remain silent. Programmed by Marcus Gorman.
Films in this program:
La Nueva (The Newcomer)
(Ivan Villamel, 2022, 15 min)
Maria is the new teacher who arrives at an old religious school. On her first day, she will have to teach a group of rebellious kids who are part of a punishment class. An unexpected event will turn the classroom into a real hell.
(Kevin Ralston, 2022, 5 min)
A grief stricken man of international origins searches for the bones of his brother while also dealing with his status as a spokesperson for a rice cake company.
My Little Creature
(Alvaro Laguna, 2022, 16 min)
Flor and Guido’s quiet life in their cabin in the woods will change forever with the arrival of a strange creature.
Pepe le Kool: Electric Dreams
(Udesh Chetty, 2022, 2 min)
One bad-ass Pekingese pup embarks on a quest into the vapor-verse to retrieve his most precious of possessions.
(Daniel Thomas King, 2022, 15 min)
Greg, a man on his death bed, confronts his high school bully and presents him with a strange last request.
(Ruari Chambers, 2022, 9 min)
A young man’s life falls apart when he develops an uncontrollable urge to itch.
(Brandon Carraway, 2022, 8 min)
Two Latter-day Saint missionaries visit the home of a wicked lady.
(Will Lee, 2022, 13 min)
After discovering her boyfriend’s plan to propose on their weekend vacation, a young girl undergoes a crisis of commitment which attracts the attention of a sinister cult.
Co-presented with Scarecrow Video!
(H. Tjut Djalil, Indonesia, 1981, 86 min, narrative)
Researching a book that takes her to Bali and the black magic cult of Leak, Cathy meets an evil witch who promises to train her in the dark arts. Tricked, Cathay is turned into a Penanggalan, a flying vampire with internal organs hanging from her neck. All rests on the local Holy men who are forced to do battle with the forces of evil. This Indonesian ’80s gem is one of the most bizarre, unsettling, and raucous films of its time, and sure to become a new favorite.
Co-presented with Outsider Comics!
(91 min. TRT)
A block dedicated to the animated form, a selection of off-kilter comedy, deep introspection, and the kinds of characters you can only experience when the sky is the limit. Programmed by Make Believe Seattle.
Films in this program:
In the Mountains
Dark Odyssey 2: Ice Nexus
The Sea On the Day When the Magic Returns
Co-presented with 5th Avenue Theatre!
(Paul Bogart, US, 1966, 60 min, narrative)
Originally produced as part of ABC’s Stage 76, and starring Anthony Perkins (Psycho) with original music from the late Stephen Sondheim, a man becomes part of a secret society of people who live in a department store and quickly falls in love with the leader’s young maid. Featuring the first appearance of classic Sondheim songs like “Take Me to the World” and “I Remember.” It’s one you’ve likely never heard of, and we are excited to remedy that.
Film critic, author, screenwriter, and champion of all things awesome, Drew McWeeny joins Make Believe Seattle for a special presentation of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1987 horror/Western masterpiece, Near Dark. Over the course of the film, whenever Drew or an audience member screams “stop!”, the film is paused and the audience engages in a discussion about what they’re seeing, what it means, and why it’s important for cinema.
Co-presented by Fangoria!
One of the most popular horror-themed podcasts around, Fangoria’s “Colors of the Dark” features professor, filmmaker, and co-host of the “Pure Cinema” podcast, Elric Kane; and professor, and filmmaker Dr. Rebekah McKendry (Glorious). The two share their wealth of knowledge on the horror genre every week, and we’re beyond thrilled to have them in Seattle for a live recording of their podcast to celebrate our inaugural year.
This is a FREE event. Pass holders will be seated first.
Co-presented with Crypticon Seattle!
(Jeffrey Obrow, US, 2023, 105 min, narrative)
From the director of the horror classic The Dorm That Dripped Blood comes the world premiere of a riveting thriller about a teenager who stalks her mother’s new boyfriend, only to accidentally stumble upon a stranger with the same name who also happens to be a deranged serial killer.
Starring Madison Lawlor (The Axe Murders of Villisca), Molly Ringwald (The Breakfast Club), Sam Trammell (True Blood), Angus Macfadyen (Braveheart) and the late Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas).
Co-presented with Translations: Seattle Trans Film Fest!
(Matt Kiel, US, 2023, 90 min, narrative)
Matty, down on his luck and distraught from a recent break-up, is magically sucked into a unicorn-run alternate dimension. Now, Matty must work with their new unicorn friends to conquer a dark force, bringing peace to their kingdom and emotional stability to their bleak Silver Lake life. A young adult, coming-of-age animated feature which explores the complexity of first heartbreak and gender identity. Featuring the voice work of Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford, and Harold Perrineau.
The Third Saturday in October (Part V)
(Jay Burleson, US, 2022, 89 min, narrative)
A love letter to the lesser sequels to popular ’80s slasher franchises. An unstoppable killer stalks and butchers the occupants of multiple homes across the stretch of one lone country road as the residents prepare to watch the yearly college football showdown between the Alabama-Mobile Seahawks and Tennessee A&M Commonwealth.
The Third Saturday in October
(Jay Burleson, US, 2022, 102 min, narrative)
A lost slasher film from the golden age of the genre. Years ago, Ricky Dean lost a child at the hands of a spree killer. As the killer escapes Death Row, Ricky Dean throws himself in the line of fire to stop him from killing again.
Joining us live and in-person is the “Screen Drafts” podcast, where experts and enthusiasts competitively collaborate on the creation of screen-centric best-of lists. Hosted by Clay Keller and Ryan Marker, it’s been praised by the likes of Entertainment Weekly, and consistently causes listeners to scream at their sound systems. Clay and Ryan will be tackling a Make Believe-inspired topic (“Woods Horror”) with an all-star roster of guests: Elric Kane, Dr. Rebekah McKendry, Drew McWeeny, and Billy Ray Brewton. And there might be more surprises – who knows?
This is a FREE event. Pass holders will be seated first.
A success on the 2008 festival circuit, time has all but forgotten the inventive, singular, and visually arresting Make-Out with Violence, made by a group of friends from the South. A genre-bending tale of a boy trying to fulfill his unrequited love for a girl who has risen from the grave. We’re thrilled to present a 15th Anniversary screening of this underseen gem, joined by many of the same friends who brought it to life.
(Rebekah McKendry, US, 2022, 79 min, narrative)
Sure, it’s not that old, but we couldn’t have Dr. Rebekah McKendry in town without screening her critically acclaimed ode to all things Lovecraft, 2022’s Glorious, featuring Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) and Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons.
After a breakup, Wes ends up at a remote rest stop. He finds himself locked inside the bathroom with a mysterious figure speaking from an adjacent stall. Soon Wes realizes he is involved in a situation more terrible than he could imagine. Claustrophobic and entertaining as hell, it’s just a no-brainer.
Set in 2144 against the harsh backdrop of a subarctic wasteland, Sumi, a human child raised by Mama Polar Bear, narrowly escapes capture from a brutal Morad hunting party and sets out across the vast winter landscape. When Sumi stumbles across Frozen Girl, an unlikely friendship is forged and together they race ahead of the vindictive hunters towards the only guiding light Sumi knows, the Polaris star. This imaginative action thriller blends elements of Mad Max: Fury Road with Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter.
Co-presented by 6162 Productions
(David Farrier, New Zealand, 2022, 96 min, documentary)
Journalist David Farrier (the documentary Tickled) is drawn into a game of cat and mouse with a mysterious individual. Delving deeper, he unearths a trail of court cases, royal bloodlines, and ruined lives, in this true story of psychological warfare.
Co-presented with Sonder. Screens with the short film A Folded Ocean
(Quentin Dupieux, France, 2022, 80 min, narrative)
From the the eclectic and acclaimed French auteur behind Rubber, Deerskin, and Mandibles come his latest sojourn into the weird, wild, and wonderful. A group of vigilantes called the ‘tobacco-forces’ is falling apart. To rebuild team spirit, their leader suggests that they meet for a week-long retreat, before returning to save the world.
Co-presented with Rat City Roller Derby!
(Jamie Wede, US, 2022, 64 min)
With shades of both Fatal Attraction and Whip It, this kitschy blood-soaked gem has been enjoying quite the run on the festival circuit. Filmmaker Jamie Wede has taken his love of horror, roller derby, and bad ass women, and turned it into one of the most enjoyable mid-lengths we’ve seen in some time.
Here is the plot, if you even need it now: A roller derby woman gets in a little over her head when she meets her number one fan.
Presented by MUBI!
(Lea Mysius, France, 2022, 95 min, narrative)
8-year-old Vicky possesses a special power: a hyper-acute sense of smell. She spends her days exploring this gift, and lives happily with her mother Joanne, a swimming teacher whom she adores exclusively – to the despair of her firefighter father. When her mysterious aunt Julia suddenly reappears in their lives, secrets from their past resurface both violently and magically. Starring Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Color).
A block dedicated to complicated women on disparate journeys whose travels take them through monsters, obsessions, psychological turmoil, and weird and wild wonders. Programmed by Kasi Gaarenstroom
Co-presented with Classified Cinema
Co-curated by the filmmaker himself, Guy Maddin, this block features a fabulous mixtape of some of Guy’s most celebrated and imaginative works over the past decades. Programmed by Billy Ray Brewton & Guy Maddin.
Co-presented with Seattle Documentary Association!
(Lisa Cortes, US, 2023, 98 min, documentary)
From CNN Films and HBO Films comes a long overdue chronicle of one of the most creative, eccentric, and influential musical arts of all-time. Little Richard shaped a generation of performers and musicians with his larger-than-life persona, and made a name for himself going against the norms of music and performance at the time. Featuring musical legends Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones, and more, Little Richard: I Am Everything chronicles his career, his music, and his ongoing contributions to the field of imagination.
A block dedicated to those unknown terrors creeping around the dark recesses of your home or your heart, with special attention paid to design, costuming, and atmosphere. Programmed by Make Believe Seattle.
Co-presented by Super Yaki
(Christopher Murray, Chile, Mexico & Germany, 2023, 101 min)
On the remote island of Chiloé in the late 19th century, an Indigenous girl named Rosa lives and works with her father on a farm. When the foreman brutally turns on Rosa’s father, she sets out for justice, seeking help from the king of a powerful organization of sorcerers. Here’s a film with a lot on its mind and incredible imagery to help convey it. Fresh off a successful world premiere at Sundance, we’re thrilled to have it for Year One.
Co-presented with Crypticon Seattle! Screens with the short film Globophobia
CW: Lots of triggers. Brace yourself.
(Onur Tukel, US, 2023, 90 min, narrative)
From Onur Tukel, one of the most astute and fearless satirists of his generation, comes Poundcake, a bold and subversive film about a serial killer who targets only straight white men. While some residents of The Big Apple feel empathy and concern for the situation, others feel like the victims are getting what they deserve. A dark and twisted comedic ode to queers everywhere that answers the important question: “What’s one more dead straight white dude?”