May 21, 2021

Hexploitation Cancels 2021 Film Festival

A special update from Hexploitation Film Festival Director / Lead Programmer Aaron Allen

Hello fellow fright fans, horror hounds, and cult film connoisseurs. 

I hope that you and your loved ones have been able to weather this COVID-19 storm so far, but if you or your families have suffered hardship this past year and half, you have my sympathies. This is not the 2020 or 2021 any of us were hoping for. With so much strife and sadness going on in the world, I have had occasion to hear explicitly from many of you how much you miss the Hexploitation Film Festival (HXFF) and wish for a return to normalcy. With that in mind, it is with immeasurable regret that I must announce that there will be no HXFF for 2021 either online or in person.

Since our last HXFF in February 2020, we have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation carefully and rolling with the punches that fate has delivered. Whether it was the unexpected closure of our long-time venue or the entirely foreseeable crushing third wave of COVID variants that were encouraged to sweep through Ontario (thanks for nothing, Dougie!), we have been trying to work out a plan to return our festival and screening events to a venue or screen near you. With the news that the People Under the Staircase were going to resurrect our long-time venue, and in seeing that the ramp up in vaccine rollout was on the horizon in Ontario, we had hope that we could return for Fall 2021. We were fully prepared to bring the festival back in 2021 as an online event and were positioned to open submissions this Spring/Summer. Unfortunately, events in my life that are beyond my control have led me to the hard decision to cancel HXFF for 2021.

Like many of you, horror films are my passion but not my profession. I work a regular day job, Monday to Friday, that's about as far away from cinematic thrills, chills, and kills that you can get. Although I have been the lead festival programmer and director of HXFF since 2012, “Festival Director and Lead Programmer” is not my fulltime job. Everything I do to organize and pull off the film festival each year with the help of a great team of programmers is done on my own free time. Like myself, the entire dedicated HXFF team is made up of programmers and volunteers who make ends meet in fields outside the world of film distribution and entertainment. While it is true that those with passion find a way to make time for what they love, it’s equally true that there's not always enough time to give that which you love the attention it deserves. 

This is the position I find myself in as we approach the Summer. Certain developments in my field have resulted in my day job becoming unexpectedly and increasingly demanding. It is leaving me very little time or energy to devote to the intensive preparations that the HXFF requires, and I do not foresee it letting up until next year. I faced a choice of burning the candle at both ends, but no matter which way I looked at it, the HXFF was bound to eventually suffer in either quality or presentation. I love the HXFF, I love our fans, and I love the films we screen too much to do a half-assed job. After speaking with my fellow programmers, I have decided that the best course of action is to cancel HXFF for 2021 in its entirety.

That is not to say that you won’t see some activity from us this Summer or early Fall. Ontario just announced a new three-phase opening plan that leaves the possibility of some outdoor screenings or events. If something of a smaller scale presents itself, we may resurface. But as for our three-day competitive film festival...well, that event is a slippery, slobbering beast to wrangle at the best of times. You cannot handle a monster like that without giving it your full attention. Therefore, for 2021 we will do the next best thing. We will shackle the beast of HXFF and force it into hibernation. But if the types of movies we love to screen have taught us anything, such beasts never slumber for long. Hexploitation will return. And it will return very, very hungry.

We hope you will be there with us to feed it.

Feed it with your screams.

All the bloody best,

- Aaron Allen
Festival Director / Lead Programmer
Hexploitation Film Festival