The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

‘A Night of Horror’ International Film Festival held in Eau Claire

International horror film festival screens at the Micon Downtown Cinema
Photo by Ambrosia Wojahn
“A Night of Horror” parallelled “Midwest Weirdfest” at Micon’s Downtown Cinema last weekend.

“A Night of Horror” International Film Festival made its United States debut in Eau Claire this past weekend. 

The festival premiered at Micon’s Downtown Cinema Friday through Sunday. It ran parallel to “Midwest Weirdfest,” an event that has been going on for a number of years in Eau Claire.

Both film festivals are orchestrated by founder and programming director Dean Bertram. In 2006, Bertram launched “A Night of Horror” for the first time in Sydney, Australia.

“I launched ‘A Night of Horror’ with some friends in Sydney. I’ve had some other people run it there for the past few years after I moved here,” Bertram said. “That first year, we were inundated with submissions from around the world… it just grew from there.”

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Bertram said he has been running “Midwest Weirdfest” for the past eight years at the theater. After leaving Australia, he connected with the Micon Downtown Cinema to launch the festival in Eau Claire.

“I wanted to run a film festival in Central Wisconsin. After being introduced to this cinema I had an interview with the owners and they seemed very receptive to the idea,” Bertram said. “It seemed like a nice fit at the time, and it’s been wonderful ever since.”

Bertram said “A Night of Horror” fit organically into the “Midwest Weirdfest” scene. 

“The “Midwest Weirdfest” fans love horror anyway… The “Weirdfest” includes a broad range of genres, but the people always got into that portion,” Bertram said. “I figured if I brought this fest here, I’d have a built-in audience.”

Bertram’s prediction proved correct last weekend, as film enthusiasts lined up outside the theaters to experience what both fests had to offer. 

“A Night of Horror” featured both short films and feature pictures. Filmmakers used a variety of live-action and animated styles. This made for a unique, multi-faceted viewing experience.

According to Bertram, the films shown at the festival are selected during a lengthy curation process from the several hundred submitted each year. Both festivals have open submissions for nine months out of the year on the platform FilmFreeway.

Bertram said he calculated that the full amount of time he spends curating each year is equivalent to about four months of working a full-time job. He said he views film curation as an art form in and of itself.

“The strength of a good festival is someone who has a good curatorial eye — someone who has a vision the way a filmmaker has a vision,” Bertram said. “I don’t think there’s an objective form of curation; all art is subjective. Curating art is as subjective as creating it.”

Several feature films had their international premieres at the festival this year, including director Tyler Eaton’s “Mysterious Ways,” which was shown on Saturday.

Originally from Texas, Eaton currently lives in Los Angeles and has been working in the filmmaking scene for some time.

“I started with a web series,” Eaton said. “After moving to LA, I made tons of short films with collaborators and ended up making this movie with the same people. It’s a lot of friends, a lot of people that I would work with… everyone’s super collaborative and willing to do whatever.” 

“Mysterious Ways” follows members of a youth group who are forced to deal with a demonic possession. The film blends comedy with themes of religious conflict and uncertainty. Eaton said he drew inspiration from his upbringing while making the picture.

Other feature films shown at the festival included “Blue_Whale”, “It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This”, and “He Never Left.” Bertram said he looks forward to the two festivals continuing to run alongside each other in future years.

Wojahn can be reached at [email protected]

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