If you sense something weird in Providence this weekend, it’s probably just the residual effect of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, which takes place August 19 through 21. Presented by The Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council, the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival will include almost 20 shorts, four feature films and other added attractions.
The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival has been around for 21 years as an annual event in Portland, Oregon, but this is the first time they are bringing their festival to Rhode Island. I contacted Brian Callahan from the festival to ask him about the festival’s selection process.
“The overwhelming majority of films we play at the festival are submissions through our FilmFreeway page. That’s really what our festival is about: independent films that look at Lovecraft’s works or the works of his contemporaries and inspirations in a more interesting or authentic way than studio productions do. It’s not all adaptations, though; many are original stories that draw on Lovecraft’s works, or which exist in the genres of Cosmic Horror, the Weird Tale or the Uncanny. We believe that Lovecraft has influenced modern horror (and science fiction) to such an extent that you can see his tentacles weaving through much of the genre films we’re familiar with today. One of our big missions is to show audiences films with original stories that couldn’t exist without Lovecraft’s influence.”
I also contacted Niels Hobbs of the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council with some questions about their involvement in bringing the festival to RI.
Joshua Gravel: Is the Providence premier of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival an indication that the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council will host more events?
Niels Hobbs: It is. It is our mission to encourage, support, host and create as many events as we can that find inspiration in Lovecraft’s global literary fame and its obvious connection to Providence. So in addition to our big convention, NecronomiCon Providence, we are putting more effort into staging author readings, walking tours, art shows, bicycle-based adventures (see the Tour de Tentacle) and the film festival for years between NecronomiCons.
JG: What went into bringing the festival to RI?
NH: Fortunately, much of the hard work of selecting films and the core programming is done by the pros from the mother-ship HPLFF in Portland, Oregon. Our primary role in Providence is to play host and arrange the various venues. While it’s still a lot of work for us, especially with organizing some of the additional programming, we’re happy to have a great crew of friends from Portland doing much of the heavy lifting.
The core film festival in Portland often incorporates other events, such as panels and gaming, and since we also like to create well-rounded events with various aspects to appeal to all fans of weird stuff, Lovecraftian or otherwise, we wanted to do the same here. We have three very well-regarded and active authors doing readings on Sunday at the Arcade – Paul Tremblay (A Head Full of Ghosts), Laird Barron (The Beautiful Thing that Awaits Us All) and John Langan (The Wide Carnivorous Sky). Additionally, Andrew Leman from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society will do a reading of Lovecraft’s tale “The Lurking Fear,” set to some dramatic musical accompaniment. We’ll also have a panel discussing the adaptation of weird tales to film, featuring several of the filmmakers present for the fest. Over the course of all three days of programming, vendors will be selling books, art and other weird collectibles.
Saturday night, Narragansett Brewery is hosting a special party for Lovecraft’s birthday at the Dorrance downtown, featuring their latest release in the Lovecraft beer series: The White Ship IPA.
The final event of the festival will be a special screening of the 2005 silent film The Call of Cthulhu at the Athenaeum with the filmmakers in attendance giving live director’s commentary.
So if you are looking for something with a bit of an unusual flair to it, The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival will have something for you. Schedule and ticket information can be found at hplfilmfestival.com.