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The Overlook Film Festival 2023 Announces Festival Winners

No one does horror the way The Overlook Film Festival does horror. A four days celebration of all things past and present spooky in the big easy. New Orleans is perhaps the spookiest city in the country and The Overlook capitalizes on that atmosphere. The 2023 Overlook FF brought all of the things we love. Secret screenings, old school throwbacks, and of course guest appearances that blew our socks off. Now that we have had a few days distance lets take a look at who won the festival awards and what others are saying about the festival.

The Overlook Film Festival, the seventh annual celebration of all things horror, announced today the winners of the 2023 juried competition along with the Audience Award recipients. 

In awarding these films, the jury stated: “This year’s slate of Overlook short films were marvels of ingenuity. Genre is a liberating organizing principle for filmmakers, and the range of complete creative visions on display was inspiring and invigorating.” 

The feature film Audience Award went to Late Night with the Devil by directors Colin Cairnes and Cameron Cairnes, with the runner-up being Alexis Jacknow’s Clock. The short film to receive the 2023 Audience Award was Violet Butterfield: Makeup Artist for the Dead. The runner-up in the shorts category was Snatched by Michael Schwartz.

Taking place March 30 through April 2in America’s most haunted city, New Orleans, LA, the 2023 festival welcomed 110 filmmaker guests, the highest number to date, for a four day celebration of all things horror. This year also marked the addition of a fifth day of screenings dedicated to local audiences and the expansion to the Uptown location of the Prytania Theatres — which was added to the Canal Place, Downtown location.

Filmmakers and special guests from around the globe converged in New Orleans for a record-breaking edition with 45 sold out shows and approximately five thousand audience in total attendance — the festival’s highest to date.

Celebrated director Chris McKay, who attended the festival along with Oscar®-winner Nicolas Cage to present the world premiere of Renfield, stated: “We had the immense pleasure of screening Renfield as the Opening Night film at the Overlook Film Festival in New Orleans. Overlook showcases an incredibly diverse body of films that reflect the entire spectrum of horror. The historic Prytania theater, built in 1914, was the best place to show our movie because of its connection to the past — one can easily imagine Nosferatu or Tod Browning’s Dracula playing there. The festival staff were great partners and took such good care of us. It was a truly unforgettable experience.”

Jim Jarmusch and Carter Logan of SQÜRL added: “Bloody hell! We love the Overlook Film Festival!  There’s nowhere else in the world that could make our strange band of vampires feel so welcome. We send our undying respect to everyone from the organizers to the fans who make this festival the coolest place on this or any planet.” 

SQÜRL, the enthusiastically marginal rock band composed of Jarmusch, Logan and Erik Sanko, performed at the Opening Night Vampire Ball. The festival also presented a special screening in celebration of the 10th anniversary since the premiere of Only Lovers Left Alive. Directed by Jarmusch, the film was co-produced by Logan and scored by SQÜRL, in collaboration with Dutch lutenist Jozef Van Wissem.

Masterful genre director Joe Dante said: “This was not my first Overlook experience, but the first in New Orleans, and a memorable one. The movie love is palpable, and the staff is great. My double bill of Matinee and The Tingler was a joy — it was like seeing them both for the first time.” 

Dante, who attended a special 30th anniversary screening of Matinee along with legendary actor John Goodman, also selected William Castle’s horror classic The Tingler to be screened at the festival. Introduced by ​​David Dastmalchian, appearing as his TV horror host persona Dr. Bartholomew Fearless, and with a special appearance by Dante himself, the film was presented in Percepto!, featuring a wealth of spooky surprises.

Film highlights also included the Opening Night world premiere of Renfield, the Centerpiece screening of Danny and Michael Philippou’s Talk to Me — which was presented as a secret screening — and the Closing Night film Evil Dead Rise, directed by Lee Cronin. World premiere screenings included Philip Barantini’s AccusedAlexis Jacknow’s  Clock Nick Kozakis’ Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism, Ariel Vida’s Trim Season and Anthony Penta’s We Kill for Love.

Showcasing a selection of the best in genre filmmaking for the year (50 films from 12 countries), the 2023 Overlook Film Festival also added new sidebars in Music and Magic programming to a robust slate of immersive and live experiences, including the exclusive Undersigned from Yannick Trapman-O’Brien and this year’s immersive alternate reality game Lingering Echoes presented by guest designers The Ministry of Peculiarities. The game, which for the first time was developed to connect every piece of immersive programming as part of a cohesive festival mystery, was once again an audience favorite. Music programming, including performances by SQÜRL and American sludge metal band Thou, was presented in partnership with Kickstarter Music. The Magic presentations — including The Last Magic Show, created and performed by the renowned Zabrecky, and the world premiere of The Oracle, from Tarologist and Soothsayer Jared Kopf — was curated by the Academy of Magical Arts, the organization that resides in the world famous Magic Castle®. 

Audience Awards 

Winner — Feature Film

Late Night with the Devil

Directors: Colin Cairnes, Cameron Cairnes

Cast: David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Fayssal Bazzi, Ian Bliss, Ingrid Torelli, Rhys Auteri, Josh Quong Tart, Georgina Haig

Australia, 2023

Desperate for ratings, a Seventies-era late night talk show host invites a skeptic, a doctor and a young girl supposedly possessed by the devil for a very special Halloween episode. By the end of the show, his horrified audience would learn one awful truth: Evil doesn’t take commercial breaks.

Runner-Up — Feature Film



Director: Alexis Jacknow

Cast: Dianna Agron, Jay Ali, Melora Hardin

United States, 2023

On the eve of her birthday, a woman desperately attempts to fix her broken biological clock, but at what cost? Featuring a powerhouse turn from Dianna Agron (Shiva Baby), this cautionary tale warns that when the pressure to conform mounts beyond reason, something’s going to break.

Winner — Short Film

Violet Butterfield: Makeup Artist for the Dead, Dir. Brooke H. Cellars, United States, 2022

One night at her mortuary salon, Violet receives a visit from a new client and discovers that sometimes a person feels they cannot authentically live their best life until after they’re dead.

Runner-Up — Short Film

Snatched, Dir. Michael Schwartz, United States, 2022

After coming out as gay, a 15-year-old boy must fight for his life when his parents react with otherworldly acceptance.

Juried Awards

Best Short Film

Violet Butterfield: Makeup Artist for the Dead, Dir. Brooke H. Cellars, United States, 2022

One night at her mortuary salon, Violet receives a visit from a new client and discovers that sometimes a person feels they cannot authentically live their best life until after they’re dead.

Honorable Mention

Dead Enders, Dir. Fidel Ruiz-Healy, Tyler Walker, United States, 2023

A disaffected, young gas-station clerk on the midnight shift must learn to give a damn about something after malevolent mind-controlling bugs are set loose by irresponsible oil drillers.

Scariest Short 

Night of the Bride, Dir. Virat Pal, India, 2022

A young woman’s cries for help fall on deaf ears as a family holds her hostage, desperate to get their only son married through whatever sinister means necessary.

Special Jury Prize for Creative Vision 

FROM.BEYOND, Dir. Fredrik S. Hana, Norway, 2022

This kaleidoscopic vision portrays mankind’s first meeting with alien life, told through faux archival footage combined with practical FX, miniatures and old school in-camera trickery