First Annual WHAT THE FEST!? Wraps

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What The Fest!?…

What The Fest!? (, a new showcase for outrageous content, completed its first edition with ten sold-out screenings (including a Closing Night encore added by popular demand) and a bevy of filmmakers and special guests in person. Held March 29th through April 1st at New York’s IFC Center, the festival boasted seven New York and US premieres, with the inaugural What the Fest!? Audience Award going to BOILED ANGELS: THE TRIAL OF MIKE DIANA by Frank Henenlotter (BASKET CASE, BRAIN DAMAGE), which made its World Premiere at the event.

The latest documentary directed by Henenlotter, BOILED ANGELS is the true story of underground comic artist Mike Diana, the only American artist ever convicted of obscenity. The film also featured appearances from Neil Gaiman and George A. Romero, among others. Henenlotter and Diana were both present for a Q&A following the World Premiere screening, along with producersAnthony Sneed and Mike Hunchback.

“The first edition of What The Fest!? had something organic that’s impossible to buy or manufacture: an incredible atmosphere,” says Creative Director Maria Reinup. “Audiences and filmmakers welcomed our new festival with open arms, and we were thrilled to launch a new home for great genre films in New York — and we’re especially proud that our audiences honored a legendary New York genre filmmaker like Frank Henenlotter.”

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BOILED ANGEL’s Audience Award win was the cherry on top of a successful launch for What the Fest!?. The eleven-program lineup featured an international selection of new films from the US, France, Norway, Switzerland, the UK, and Indonesia, along with a sneak preview of AMC’s new series “The Terror,” with star Jared Harris in attendance, and the world premiere of a restoration of the 1988 Polish-Estonian CURSE OF SNAKES VALLEY, a Soviet-era action spectacular never released stateside. Festival selections included upcoming releases THE ENDLESS and LOWLIFE(both opening April 6th), GHOST STORIES (April 20th) and REVENGE (May 11th), as well as titles not yet acquired for the US. Filmmakers were present for most screenings, among them Jenn Wexler, Larry Fessenden, and Heather Buckley, in attendance for the Closing Night selection,THE RANGER.

In addition to traditional filmmaker Q&As, the festival also partnered with Forbidden Planet, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, The Swarm Lab, The Association for Psychoanalytic Medicine, and punk band Rotten UK to provide audiences with unforgettable screening events — from a talk on female adolescence and body horror, to a post-film taco truck, a surprise hardcore concert and more.

As the first edition of What the Fest!? comes to an end, the festival makes the same promise to moviegoers and genre fans for 2019: expect anything!
Image: Caitlin Hughes PR

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