Nightmares Film Festival announced today that, beginning with this year’s event, its acting awards will be gender-neutral — a change meant to advance equity and inclusion in genre film.
“The reason we exist is to elevate horror and inspire genre creators, and you can’t do either of those things without addressing inequities that hold us all back,” said NFF co-founder and programmer Jason Tostevin. “We believe gender-neutral acting awards will include our whole community, and recognize that gender is a social idea that, in the end, has nothing to do with how well someone performs a role.”
Rather than “actor” and “actress” prizes, the festival’s coveted Night Mare statuettes will be awarded to a “lead performer” and “supporting performer” in both the features and shorts categories.
The idea had been brewing for some time, organizers said.
“Jason told me he’d been thinking about this for a couple seasons of Nightmares, that he didn’t want to wait and wanted to know if I agreed,” said co-founder and Gateway Film Center President Chris Hamel. “I of course told him I loved the idea, and we put it into action.”
“It’s long past time we expressly include nonbinary and genderfluid people in what we call things,” Tostevin said, “and it’s time we stopped dividing artists by gender. We felt like the actor-actress thing was outmoded and wrong for our community. And so, in Nightmares tradition, we changed it.”
Because of pandemic risks to attendees, Nightmares will hold a five-day digital event (Oct. 21 to 25) called “Nightmares Film Festival: Masquerade” instead of its 2020 in-person event.
NFF: Masquerade will make the festival’s 2020 short and feature film selections available to event pass holders through a secure online streaming platform for the five-day duration of the fest. The platform includes apps for AppleTV, Roku, and Android TV, which will allow viewers to watch on their home theater setups. While Nightmares will publish a recommended schedule, including shorts blocks and feature/short pairings, pass holders and those who purchase individual film streams will be able to watch the festival’s “better horror” program in their own order, on their own time.
In addition to the industry-leading film program Nightmares is known for, Masquerade will present several live components each day, like real-time Q&As with filmmakers. These include hosted screenings and question sessions with the festival’s “Shut-In Shorts” selections, a category Nightmares created this year exclusively for films made under quarantine constraints.
Submissions are still being accepted for consideration at https://filmfreeway.com/NightmaresFilmFest. For updates, follow Nightmares Film Festival on social media @NightmaresFest.
Now in its fifth year, Nightmares Film Festival has been named a top genre festival in the world by every leading outlet. It has been FilmFreeway’s top-ranked genre festival — and second-ranked overall fest out of more than 7000 — continuously since its founding.