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Cumberland horror/sci-fi film fest will get folks ready for Halloween

2nd-annual Astrophobia Sci-Fi and Horror Film Festival set for this weekend
Film still from the movie “The Killdren Are Coming” - Director: Dana Berry. The Astrophobia Sci-Fi and Horror Film Festival takes place Oct. 15-16 at the Masonic Hall in Cumberland.

Dan Webb is producing the second annual Astrophobia Sci-Fi and Horror Film Festival, Oct. 15-16 at the Masonic Hall in Cumberland.

The festival includes two full days of nail-chewing drama, including 18 shorts and two features: Blades in the Darkness Oct. 15 and One Cut of the Dead, Oct. 16.

Webb said the concept for the festival came about when he was at home during the pandemic, thinking of things to do.

“It occurred to me that the Comox Valley doesn’t have a film festival devoted to (this genre),” he said.

“There is the World Community Film Festival but it is devoted to social justice causes. I think the Whistler festival plays at the Waverley, but this (horror/sci-fi) is lacking.

“So a friend of mine, who is in the industry, came together and we organized the Comox Valley International Film Festival in the spring, and along with that, I thought it would be great to have a genre festival,” he said. “Sci-fi horror is my favourite type of film. That’s why I chose it.”

He is hoping to build on the foundation he set with the inaugural Astrophobia Sci-Fi and Horror Film Festival, in 2021.

“The first one was last year. It was good attendance, considering the context,” said Webb. “It was about a month after we were allowed to have public events again, but everyone had to be masked up.

“This year should be better because the mask mandate is over.”

Webb said the jury process to select the films was extensive.

“There is a website called film freeway, where hundreds of festivals post for submissions,” he said. “I believe 149 films were submitted, from 18 different countries. From there, we watched them all - I got a little jury together of four friends and myself. Then I made the final decisions based on their recommendation and on my own viewing.”

As an added bonus, there is a science fiction and horror trivia night on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m.

The trivia night is limited to 12 teams, $48 per team.

“The trivia night will be the way to pay for most of the costs of the festival,” said Webb, who hopes to add a fundraising aspect to the event in the future. “I deliberately chose early on not to turn it into a non-profit event for the first couple of years, just so I could establish it, but hopefully I can connect it to some community organization to turn it into a fundraiser eventually.”

Sunday afternoon will feature a special guest - filmmaker Avalon Fast.

“We’re screening Honeycomb which is a feature-length film made entirely on Cortes Island by 22-year-old first-time director Avalon Fast. Avalon will be at the festival to do a Q and A session after the screening of her film.”

Prices vary, from $9 per block (one short film block and one feature block each day) to $28 for a weekend pass.

One-day passes are also available for $16.

Tickets are available onsite, or electronically through

Tickets ordered online are subject to a processing fee.

Terry Farrell

About the Author: Terry Farrell

Terry returned to Black Press in 2014, after seven years at a daily publication in Alberta. He brings 14 years of editorial experience to Comox Valley Record...
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