The Séance International Film Festival Review

Beware, dear reader. For this is a tale not for the faint of heart. This is something for those who crave the ghastly, the macabre and the gruesome. 

Is this what your heart desires? Then the Séance International Film Festival (SIFF) is the place to fulfill that ghoulish hunger by seeing the wide array of films that horror cinema has to offer. 

The hallowed halls of the Capitol theatre on Swanston Street played host to SIFF on opening night. Set against the perfect backdrop of a cold, dark, miserable Winter’s evening, there was no better way to set the stage for a film festival centred around horror films. 

However, not even the cruel chill of Winter’s grasp could deter the excitement that was felt throughout the Capitol that night. There was an electricity in the air that could not be ignored. The foyer had plenty on offer with merchandise set up to remember the night by. T-shirts, totes, stickers and even a selection of candles to bring the smell of the festival home. The team behind SIFF had clearly put love into creating this event and now they were seeing the fruits of their labour pay off as they ushered in esteemed guests from far and wide to see frights on the silver screen. 

As the doors to the main theatre swung open and seats were filled, it begun to sink in why the Capitol is the perfect place to house a horror film festival. Not only having a wonderful atmosphere and lavish architecture, but its own haunted history of ghosts stalking the corridors. Alas, no ghosts were spotted on opening night.  

Director and programming coordinator, Simmy Zeimer, and production and programming coordinator, Daimian Galbraith, began the film festival with some short remarks about what the SIFF’s core mission was and what audiences could expect. In their own words, the SIFF seeks to “celebrate the multicultural array of horror stories in both classic and contemporary cinema”. The programming schedule that has been curated by the SIFF team reflects these sentiments strongly. With a range of contemporary and classic shorts and features from a diverse array of voices and perspectives show the care and attention that has been put into crafting the film festival to showcase the genre.  

With the welcoming remarks out of the way, the lights in the theatre turned blood red and the film festival got underway. Opening night’s films started with a short film from Germany titled Memories In The Night Wind (dir. Daniel Wolters 2022) and then was followed by the feature film A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (dir. Ana Lily Amirpour 2014) from Persia. Both films were excellent examples of how the horror genre can be explored, challenged, and experimented with to deliver not only scares but unique story. 

SIFF was truly a positive experience and one that is well worth attending. It succeeds in showcasing the world of films that horror cinema has to offer that will be sure to please any fan of the genre. With much more scares on offer over the next couple of days, it will deliver a journey through the roots of horror cinema to how modern voices use it today. 

The Séance International Film Festival will continue to run on Friday, June 3rd at the Capitol theatre and then finish up on Saturday, June 4th screening the remaining features and shorts at RMIT Building 80, Level 1, Room 2. Get your tickets HERE.

Written by Vivian Dobbie-Glazier

Header image via IMDb

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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