Cinepocalypse film festival signals fresh start, not end times


Erin Brown

The Music Box Theatre will host the Cinepocalypse, a festival showcasing horror films, from Nov. 2-9. 3733 N. Southport Ave.

By Miranda Manier

Film festival organizer and artistic director Josh Goldbloom has had his eye on the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., for years, following its programming and envying its spacious auditoriums from his home in Philadelphia.

Now his dream of showing films there has become a reality with Cinepocalypse, a genre film festival from Nov. 2–9 that fulfills what he called “a match made in film geek heaven.” 

Cinepocalypse features a variety of genre film including horror and science fiction. The festival grows out of Goldbloom’s experience as artistic director from 2014 to 2016 for Bruce Campbell’s Horror Film Festival in Rosemont, Illinois, produced by comic convention Wizard World. The festival, as the title suggests, screened three days worth of horror films in conjunction with Wizard World each August. But for the festival’s fourth year, Goldbloom was ready to expand both the festival’s length from three days to seven—and the range of its subject matter. 

“We’re able to deliver more to the audience [with a genre festival],” Goldbloom said. “We just wanted to be able to explore. There’s so many great movies out there; you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself and what you’re able to present to the audience.” 

For Ryan Oestreich, Music Box Theatre’s general manager, this expansion from horror to the inclusion of other genres was an exciting opportunity.

“When I was talking to [Goldbloom] about how large the Chicago appetite is for genre, it made sense to expand [the festival] beyond horror, especially when we’re trying to expand the number of days,” Oestreich said. “The Music Box Theatre is a larger auditorium, so we’re [also] expanding the number of seats we’re  trying to sell.” 

Chris Geske, a junior electrical engineering student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, bought a weeklong pass for Cinepocalypse after hearing about it on the theatre’s website.

“It’s a lot of horror, grindhouse [and] noir movies, and I like that,” Geske said. “It’s always good to see more [screenings like this].”

Despite reactions like Geske’s, Oestreich explained that the festival’s new name and rebranding made it difficult to get the word out. On the heels of the Chicago International Film Festival and a slew of Halloween-related events, generating buzz was a hurdle for Cinepocalypse, he said.

“When I explain it to [someone], they’re like, ‘That is amazing!’” Oestreich said. “But in year one, when you’re trying to explain a new film festival, not everybody understands.” 

However, Goldbloom said that the audience for the festival has steadily grown since 2014, and he hopes the newest iteration of Bruce Campbell’s Horror Film Festival will elevate participating filmmakers’ profiles.

“I never take lightly that, [for] a lot of these films, [this is] the first time that the filmmakers are screening in the United States,” Goldbloom said. “I understand how much effort goes into making these movies. It’s important that we’re able to give that back. In the same effort that they’ve put forth in making this film, we’re trying to give them the best outlet to screen their projects.”