The Haapsalu Horror & Fantasy Film Festival (HÕFF) is an independent festival focusing of screening best films from the darker side of cinema from fantasy to horror, forgotten classics, filmmaker and country retrospectives, extreme films and celebrated guests in the unique setting of Estonia, a small country in northern Europe between Sweden, Finland and Russia. The festival takes place in late April, usually coinciding with the full moon.
The festival's mission is to present to the audiences of Estonia and the neighboring countries horror, fantasy, sci-fi and cult films from the world’s cinematic heritage with a geographically diverse and contemporary programme.
HÕFF has developed into a small, but internationally highly appreciated festival in the the Nordic area. The festival is organized by the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, one of the largest art house festivals in the region together with Haapsalu Culture Center and the City of Haapsalu. Part of the festival’s unique atmosphere is derived from it’s location – an ex-Soviet culture center with three cinema halls renovated in 2010 to it’s full crystal glory.
The festival programme is divided into three sections. The main programme features new fantasy and horror films, not older than two years with a focus on a theme or a genre. The second part of HÕFF is targeted for audiences with strongest wits and guts – introducing the most extreme and obscure films ever made, such as “Guinea Pig”and “Serbian Film” or cult classics like “Salo: 120 days of Sodom” and “Cannibal Holocaust”. Finally, the festival's retro film section includes films from the 1980s, screening both hits such as "Mad Max", "Escape from New York" and "Terminator", as well as the crazier and lesser known cult films from all over the world.
Additionally HÕFF is increasingly featuring premieres, such as the international premiere of british gothic horror “Splintered”, later on European premieres for hits like “Beyond the Black Rainbow”, “Agression Scale”, “Henge” or “VHS” and world premiere of Spanish horror "Omnivores". In 2016 the festival had the European premieres of Babak Anvari's BAFTA-winning "Under the Shadow" and Simon Rumley's thriller "Johnny Frank Garrett's Last Word".
During the years HÕFF has attracted several recognized filmmakers and guests including Brian Yuzna (Reanimator), Magnus Paulsson (Frostbite), producer Gregory Rossi (Il Busco Fuori), Polish cult director Marek Piestrak (Navigator Pirx), film directors Mike Mendez (Mega Spider), Babak Anvari (Under the Shadow), Simon Rumley (Johnny Garrett’s Last Word), Can Evrenol (Baskin), festival programmers Tuomas Riskala, Mikko Aromaa, Shelagh-Rowan Legg, Todd Brown and many others.
In 2012, HÕFF became a part of the European Fantastic Festivals Federation Méliès and is proud to be the only one in the Baltics. With some 20 festivals represented, on the European continent as well as in Asia and North-America, and a joint audience of approximately 600 000 spectators, the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation has become one of the most powerful tools to promote the originality and creativity of the European fantasy film industry.