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Crown Heights Film Festival Debuts Fright Night Features

By Sonja Sharp | October 19, 2012 4:21pm

CROWN HEIGHTS —  October may have its share of shaky-camera thrillers, but for sophisticated slasher fans, the third annual Crown Heights Film Festival is the hot ticket this Halloween.

"A number of the horror films surprised me, because that's not typically my thing," curator and co-founder Erin Gleason said of the bumper crop of scary flicks the festival received this year. "But they're so experimental and gorgeous."

The filmmakers said they had no idea they'd be putting on a fright fest when they put out an open call for submissions this summer. Now in its third year, the festival has expanded to accommodate feature-length films into its eclectic mix of psychological thrillers and children's cartoons, dark comedies and experimental documentaries.

"We curate the festival based on what comes in," Gleason said. "The surprises that come in help us create a festival that we could not have conceived of beforehand."

Despite the emphasis on all things local  — Williamsburg is too far and Manhattan is out of the question — Marti and Gleason take submissions from all over the world: Halloween alone will feature shorts from France and South Korea, as well as a feature-length thriller by local auteur Vishnu Seesahai.

"We take pride in reflecting the diversity that crown heights possesses," said co-founder Pedro Martí. "Originally we were going to be centered around Brooklyn, but we started getting an international selection of work."

Among Marti's favorite features is El Último Hielero, a Peruvian documentary profiling an indigenous ice-picker, while Gleason loved El Invento, a Columbian short about a boy who tries to engineer his way out of heartbreak.

"I love that one. It's a beautiful story," Gleason said. "I has a bit of love, it has friendship — it's really delightful.