Science fiction and fear merge during inaugural Astrophobia film festival

More than 200 short and feature-length movies were submitted to the festival

Arghhh! is a Comox Valley film by festival organizer Dan Webb. Photo submitted

Arghhh! is a Comox Valley film by festival organizer Dan Webb. Photo submitted

Dan Webb is taking two of his favourite genres – science fiction and horror – and is turning into the inaugural Astrophobia Film Festival in the Comox Valley.

Webb is using his experience as a festival organizer and filmmaker to curate the event, which is set to showcase the best in independent and classic genre films from Oct. 16 to 17 at the Stan Hagen Theatre at North Island College in Courtenay.

In May 2021, Webb hosted a screenwriting festival, and from there, got the idea to host a film festival, and decided October would be a fitting month for the genre.

“Despite the fourth wave, we will host (the films) indoor at NIC with COVID-19 precautions,” he explained and added proof of vaccination, as well as masks, will be required for all screening and theatre capacity will be reduced to 50 per cent.

Webb put out a call for films and received more than 200 short and feature-length movies for the festival. He curated the selection and initially planned the festival for three days but due to the pandemic, decided to reduce the schedule to two.

Short films will be shown both Saturday and Sunday afternoon, with one feature shown each night. Films begin at 3 p.m until 5:30 p.m., with the feature set for 7:30 p.m.

“Even the short films are really high-quality productions – the story, editing and production are so good,” he said.

“I grabbed (films) that I really wanted to show and wanted to find themes that were built around the films and how well they fit with that theme; there’s a few good films that I did leave out.”

Webb noted the name of the festival comes from a mix of the words for science fiction and fear – something which is exemplified in the Sunday night feature film, A Cabin in the Woods.

Two films that particularly stand out for him are Arghhh!, a zombie mockumentary shot in the Valley using all using local actors and Updated, a short film from an Indigenous director in Greenland.

Despite the reduced capacity, he is confident in drawing an audience and noted he already has a call-out for films for next year.

Tickets and the full schedule for the Astrophobia Film Festival can be found at:

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