The Carolina Theatre will host the 17th Nevermore Film Festival this Valentine’s Day weekend—foregoing mushy romance films for something a bit more macabre.
Featuring brand-new horror, science fiction, mystery, thriller and action-adventure films from the United States and abroad, the three-day festival will be sure to excite all kinds of movie enthusiasts. As a juried competition festival, Nevermore’s films are handpicked by a committee from submissions of filmmakers around the globe. There were 1,275 submissions this year, much more than the usual 200 the festival received in past years. 41 shorts and 11 features were chosen from the submissions, representing the highest-ranked films in each category.
“We are one of—if not the—largest genre film festivals in the southeastern United States,” said Jim Carl, senior director at the Carolina Theatre. “The filmmakers who come love us, then go back to L.A. and talk up the festival to their friends who are also filmmakers.”
Nevermore was created in 1999 when Carl discovered an audience in the Triangle for horror movies. Aside from the classic films that the Theatre screens in its Retro Film Series, Nevermore presents films that are far from well-known, big-budget movies. Most films at Nevermore are so new that festival-goers have never heard of them before.
“From the audience’s point of view, they trust the brand,” Carl said. “After 17 years, audiences recognize they may not have heard of the movies playing, but chances are if they go to Nevermore they’ll like what they see because Nevermore is good at picking films.”
Nevermore accepted films through the online platform FilmFreeway for the first time, making the festival more accessible to filmmakers who may not have had the resources to send in their works otherwise. Filmmakers from more than 60 countries presented their works, from the United Kingdom to Cambodia.
“You’re going to have to make really difficult cuts at the end, because you’ll have to send letters of rejection to films that were really good but wouldn’t fit in the slots,” Carl said.
One feature that made the cut was “Everlasting.” A dark love story, “Everlasting” centers on a teenage filmmaker named Matt whose girlfriend was recently killed. After receiving a package containing a tape of her murder, he decides to travel from Colorado to Los Angeles to learn about the events leading to her death, and to eventually face her murderer.
“‘Everlasting’ was the sort of process where I’d write for a day or two, but have to stop because it was so emotionally intense. Once I finished the screenplay I sent it out and people latched onto it—I got a lot of immediate support,” said Anthony Stabley, the writer, director and producer of “Everlasting.”
An unconventional tale, “Everlasting” presents the darker side of love in an unorthodox fashion—Matt’s story is told through a mingling of news passages, home videos and real-time sequences.
“Our movie is non-linear—it goes back and forth between memories and the present time,” Stabley said.
Although not a film that would typically seen in movie theaters, “Everlasting” is deep yet provocative. Nominated for Best Feature at the Crystal Palace International Film Festival during its premiere in London last November, the film has already resonated deeply with audiences.
“It’s this very emotional film—the audience comes in and sees all these strange characters, but they get really hooked in the love story and connecting with the two kids and really feeling for them,” Stabley said.
By being accepted a festival, filmmakers can show distributors that there is real interest in their work, and that people have reviewed it positively. As a well-respected genre festival, Nevermore supports filmmakers by providing an outlet for showcasing new films that may not otherwise be available.
“After we go through the process of presenting films at festivals, we can go to distributors and show reviews that people like the movie,” Stabley said.
Covering a range of grim and thrilling subjects, Nevermore has expanded to include animation this year, making a conscious effort to include the genre by forming its own short films program. The shorts program, “It’s Only a Nightmare, Charlie Brown,” will be a combination of different forms of animation, all with creepy undertones. By adding more animation, the festival hopes to connect to the audience for anime and animation present in the Triangle, as shown by attendance at events like North Carolina Comicon. Nevermore will become more accessible to people interested in genres beyond live-action, as well as a slightly younger audience.
“I have a suspicion there will be people coming to Nevermore this year because of the animated programs that wouldn’t have come before when we were just horror,” Carl said. “There are people who tell us that this is the biggest event for them every year, and at Nevermore they’ll see films they wouldn’t see anywhere else.”