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Pickford Film Center hosts 11th year of Bleedingham

Bellingham's local film festival returns with 101 short films

Autumn leaves fall and gather outside the Pickford Film Center in Bellingham, Wash., on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. Bleedingham Film Festival has been held at Pickford since its founding in 2011. // Photo by Maylis Laverne

The Bleedingham Film Festival will be hosting its 11th year of short horror films at the end of Halloweek, Oct. 28-30. 

With 101 films and no COVID-19 mandates, Langley West, co-director for Bleedingham, is “looking forward to a Bleedingham that feels like Bleedingham.” In 2020, the festival went online and came back socially distanced in 2021. This year will be the first time since the pandemic that Bleedingham is back to ‘normal.’

“It’s the best film festival I’ve ever been to,” said Brady Mcatee, a producer at Converge Media

Mcatee first submitted a film to Bleedingham in 2015 and has submitted films four or five times since.  

“Bleedingham is an exciting time at the theater because it celebrates Bellingham’s devotion to the horror film genre and local filmmakers from Whatcom County and beyond,” said Gray Gordon, marketing manager at the Pickford Film Center. 

Those interested in attending Bleedingham can expect festivities to begin at 9:20 p.m. on Friday, with the presentation of the “Best Feature Film” award along with a few other surprises for audience members, West said. 

Saturday will feature the Washington State Official Selection and award ceremony, or as West calls it, “the big show.”

Sunday, films from the “Creepy Cornucopia” will be shown at 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. These are the films, “that did not score high enough to get into the official selections, but still deserve to be seen,” West said.

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The Pickford Film Center’s front window displays featured films and movies on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. Bleedingham Film Festival will be held from Oct. 28-30, 2022. // Photo by Maylis Laverne

Tickets sell out fast, mentioned West, Gordon and Mcatee, and will be available for purchase through the Pickford Film Center website.

Along with the prizes, $1,000 for the overall winner and trophies for category winners, each film submitted is judged and rated on a scale of one to 10 in different categories. Judges then submit critiques, including advice and constructive criticism, so submitters can learn and grow from their experience. 

Mcatee said one of the critiques he’s received that has stuck with him was that sound is the most important aspect of a film. The audience can sit through bad cinematography if needed, but sitting through bad sound is much less enjoyable. 

The film “Meet the Devil,” won the ‘Scariest Film’ at Bleedingham in 2021. 

Torger Olson, a film production student at DePaul University in Chicago who grew up in Bellingham, acted in “Meet the Devil.” He said they filmed for three days but spent nearly nine months planning, working and editing the film. 

“We were shocked at how positively it was received,” Olson said. “There was an in-person screening, and I’m told that once the credits started to roll, the theater was silent.” 

In 2021, Olson was in Chicago but learned about the film’s success from Casey Crocker, director of ‘Meet the Devil’.

Mcatee said he encourages people to submit their work to Bleedingham.

“I recommend anybody to submit to it because that was what kept me interested in filmmaking,” Mcatee said. “Before that, I had never seen one of my movies on a screen that big before, and that really changes your perspective.”

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Ethan Van, Brady Mcatee and October Yates stand outside the Pickford Film Center in Bellingham, Wash., on Oct. 27, 2019. Van, Mcatee and Yates showed their film, “The Legend of The Wendigo” at Bleedingham 2019. // Photo courtesy of Brady Mcatee

Submissions for 2022 are closed, but future films can be submitted to the Bleedingham website.

Returning attendees may be sad to hear that the Night Gallery will not be happening this year. The Night Gallery was set up to showcase artists, authors and other creative types who specialized in horror and live events such as spooky burlesque shows and scary drag shows, West said. 

Alternatively, West said that select local businesses like Wink Wink and Mo’s Parlor will be allowing vendors to set up tables and sell art on Halloween.

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